What will Whole Foods Do for Us?

img_0815Whole Foods Market will open it’s doors to the public on Wednesday, November 16, 2016. I was fortunate to get a sneak peak of what’s to come. Employees were busy stocking shelves, setting up displays and getting trained.

I’ve only been to Whole Foods once while I was visiting Overland Park, KS, so I was looking forward to seeing what we would be getting in Shrossier. In particular, I was interested in what Whole Foods would do for us. I found out that the commitment to our community is absolutely phenomenal.

Whole Foods Shreveport-Bossier has hired 141 local people and only brought in six from other regions for training purposes. img_0829Local artist Ann Gassen has been hired as “The Chalk Designer” to decorate all of the signs around the store. They currently have approximately 50 local vendors, with more in the process. The store has used reclaimed wood throughout the building, most notable is the “Joskes wood” on the walls and soffits, reclaimed from a San Antonio department store built in 1888 called Joskes. That wood originally came from forests around my hometown of Lake Charles, LA in Calcasieu Parish. Electric vehicle charging stations, a bike rack to support the cycling community and energy efficiency throughout the store.

In addition, Whole Foods Market Shreveport will host five community giving days over the next five weeks as part of their commitment to supporting the local community, and to celebrate the opening of their first Shreveport store. One percent of net sales on designated community giving days will benefit the following Shreveport-Bossier area nonprofit organizations: Community Renewal International, The Fuller Center for Housing, Food Bank of Northwest Louisiana, Shreveport Green, and The Gingerbread House.

Now, about those services! There are so many fabulous services that are provided in the Shreveport store. Too many to list here, so here are the services that I found of value:

  • The butchers will custom cut, season, steam, fillet or portion your order for FREE just by asking!
  • Full-service seafood shop with experienced Fishmongers ready to help prepare your fish any way you would like it. They fillet, butterfly, debone whole fish, peel and devein shrimp, season, and grill or steam your fish for FREE! In store Seafood Smokehouse with custom smoking available.
  • Have a favorite? They will special order any item by the case with a 10% case discount
  • Free ice to protect your items on the ride home
  • Want to taste fruits or veggies before you buy them? Just ask and they will cut them right there for ya.
  • 500 wines in-house! Get 10% discount when you purchase wine by the case.
  • Expanded grass-fed dairy options including milk, butter, and yogurt and over 2,600 Non-GMO and Organic items!
    A floral area that will include more than 40 cut flowers, potted plants and arrangements in addition to seasonal items such as Christmas trees. For each tree sold, Whole Foods will replant a tree through American Forests.
  • 2000 items on sale every week and an extensive line of 365 Everyday Value® products
  • Louisiana proud! They feature a great selection of Louisiana products. (See list below)

LOUISIANA PROUD VENDORS IN THE SHREVEPORT WHOLE FOODS:

In addition to this list, there are several vendors in the process of finalizing paperwork, so there will be more to come. If you have a product that you’d like to get into Whole Foods, you may submit at Rangeme.com/wholefoods 

Abita Brewery
Acalli Chocolate
Bayou Soap
Bayou Teche
Bee Hippie (uses Hummer and Son beeswax)
Big Easy Bucha
Café du Monde
Cake Face Soaping
Camellia Beans
Chafunkta Brewing Co.
Community
Cool Brew
Covington Brewhouse
Crystal
Davey’s Treasures
Delightful Palate
Dirty Potato Chips
Doodley Dee’s Farm
Edwardo’s Secret Salsa
Evamor
Flying Heart Brewing
French Market
French Truck (beans and cold brew)
Good Granoly
Great Raft Brewing
Gulf Coast seafood
Hanley’s Dressing
Hummer and Son (packaged and in bulk)
Inglewood Farm Pecan Oil
Jennings Apiaries
KenChaux Rice
Kinloch Plantation Pecan Oil
Louisiana Brand Hot Sauce
Magoun’s Kitchen<
onjuni’s
New Orleans Brewing Company
Nuccio’s Olive Salad
Parish Brewing
Red River Brewery
Reve (coffee beans)
Rhino Coffee (beans and cold brew)
River Road Coffee
Southern Art
Star Nursery
Sucre
Swamp Pop
Tabasco
Taylormade Kale Chips
Three Brothers Farm Cane Syrup and Cane Sugar
Tin Roof Brewing Co.

Whole Foods Shreveport Photo Gallery:

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There will be a sneak peak on Monday, November 14 from 4-7 pm. Find info on their Facebook Event. Also, if you are interested in attending the Bread Breaking Ceremony (ribbon cutting), it will be held at 7:30 am on Wednesday, November 16, 2016. The first 200 people who arrive for the grand opening ceremony will receive a Whole Foods Market gift card with a mystery amount up to $100.00.

Follow Whole Foods Shreveport-Bossier:

In terms of community, I believe Whole Foods will do lots for us.

That Just Happened!!
Robin Williams
Marketing Maven, Holiday Lanes

Christina is full STEAM ahead

Christina WashingtonRecently I became a STEP FORWARD literacy volunteer which has given me the opportunity to read to third graders each week. Reading to children has been something that I have found to be surprisingly rewarding. Today, I had the pleasure of being on the opposite side of the table and was read to by my new friend, Christina Washington. Christina has published a new children’s book,  “Ms. Pearl Makes a Discovery”, designed to encourage curiosity and get children excited about learning STEAM or science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.

“Ms. Pearl Makes a Discovery” has such a creative way of engaging children to explore science. Children are encouraged to see the fun in science by following the example of the exciting characters that reinforce STEAM learning.  14691045_1205398436187409_9182381999145870097_nThe story takes place at a nature park, where a female scientist named Ms. Pearl performs a variety of experiments in her laboratory with help from her animal friends. Each character in the book is representative of each STEAM section.  Sean the Squirrel, Teddy the Turtle, Elle the Elephant, Alex the Alligator, and Max the Monkey. Each character has a special talent while together exploring the fascinating world of STEAM. Readers will witness the shenanigans of Ms. Pearl and her animal friends, and be inspired to reproduce the kid-friendly experiments presented in the book. Ms. Pearl’s character is loosely based on Christina, who also happens to be a Scientist. Mrs. Washington created Ms. Pearl and the STEAM characters to reflect her love for STEAM.

I originally met Christina at the Bossier Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting of her business, Young Scholars, a premier provider of STEM educational programs and services including enrichment programs, custom learning solutions, educational workshops, test prep, and tutoring. Christina WashingtonChristina Washington is such a motivating woman, first and foremost, because she is a scientist (a physicist to be exact). She is an author, educator, Founder of Innovative Learning Solutions, and Founder and Executive Director of Young Scholars, the youth academic division of ILS. She is also a contributing author of two engineering lab manuals and now author of her new children’s book. Christina has received numerous awards for her efforts and continues to be a trailblazer in her industry. Christina is very humble and probably won’t tell you right off that she has participated in research projects at NASA and USDA, so I will tell you for her. WOW – What a woman!

Christina’s self-published book “Ms. Pearl Makes a Discovery” is currently being printed as I write and is available for pre-sale on Amazon, with an approximate ship date of November 19, 2016. All pre-sale orders will be autographed and personalized. Christina Washington is an inspiring woman who is making a great impact in the lives of young people. I encourage you to not only purchase one copy of this book, but purchase many copies to share with school children in your area.

13138993_1078445302216057_9137830259205827830_nRead more about Christina:

I’m excited to see Christina moving full STEAM ahead!

That Just Happened!!
Robin Williams
Marketing Maven, Holiday Lanes

 

Why volunteer?

I had someone ask me why I volunteer? My initial reaction was “because I can”. I went on further to explain that I’m fortunate to have a job that allows me to do so. The next question I received was “well, how does that help Holiday Lanes?”. I often have to explain how or why I am at so many events around town. My job as marketing director for Holiday Lanes allows for me to be involved in the community in a way that also highlights the programs and services that we offer. I respect and understand the need for salespeople and yet I’ve found it difficult to follow the cold-calling techniques that often come with jobs in sales and marketing. I find that attending events, serving on committees, and volunteering provides a way for people get to know me and what I do without having to work the hard sell edge.

readingSo how does it help Holiday Lanes? It gives us the opportunity to invest in the community. We learn about other organizations and it allows us to be a resource for those people related to the organizations.

Today, I found out that sometimes, it really has nothing to do with my job. I started as a Step Forward literacy volunteer, reading to 3rd graders. I was kind of nervous. I’ve never done this before and wasn’t sure how well I’d be around third graders. When I walked into Ms. Collins third grade class at E.B. Williams Stoner Hill Lab Elementary school, I  was actually sweating. (Ok, so humidity was like 300%, but still!) Ms. Collins introduced me to the class and each student had an opportunity to share their name with me. There were five other Williams’ in the class, and so we had something in common. I was assigned six students as my breakout group. We all gathered together in the miniature burgundy chairs and began the task of reading “Jennie and the Wolf”. I asked each student to read a paragraph to me and then asked if I could read a paragraph. They excitedly allowed me to do so. We then all read in unison. (Kinda cool!) We talked about the vocabulary words (discovery and inspired) and the moral of the story (Help others and they will help you). We compared ourselves to Jennie and the Wolf. It was such a fabulous day for me. Those kiddos really snagged me in way I hadn’t expected. I get to read to them twice a week for 30 minutes and what at first seemed like something I might dread, I can now see is going to help me be better at the rest of my work week.

This has nothing really to do with my job, but in another way, it has everything to do with my job. Sometimes I find that I don’t feel like I’m making a contribution. I get caught up in emails, quotes, booking events, and yes, volunteering. Volunteering with thirStep Forwardd graders is way different than volunteering on a committee. I think this is going to give me energy and make me better at my job.

I would encourage you to consider reading to third graders. From what I have learned, third grade is that “make or break” time in a child’s life where being able to read is an indicator of whether they will graduate from high school. This is the very basic description. You will learn more when you sign up. There is a need for volunteers in both Caddo and Bossier Parishes. If you would like more information about Step Forward please contact Laura Alderman at The Community Foundation at 318-221-0582. As I walked out of the classroom from my volunteer time, one of the young men in the class yelled out “We had fun Ms. Robin!”. That made it all worth it!

Step Forward:

That Just Happened!!
Robin Williams
Marketing Maven, Holiday Lanes

 

 

Be A Fan of Shreveport-Bossier

SBCTB_BeAFanOfShreveportBossier_PhotoPost_02

In celebration of National Travel and Tourism Week – May 1 -7, 2016, I invite you to Be a Fan of Shreveport-Bossier (SB). I am a super fan of SB, and love spreading the word about all of cool things to do in this area. In case you didn’t know, Shreveport-Bossier is home to a horseracing track, six casinos, 45 family attractions, and 50 annual events. I cringe when I hear someone say “there’s nothing to do here”, it is soooo not true.

Check out the video below for my top picks in SB Outdoor Adventures:

Whether you live in SB or have plans to visit, Shreveport-Bossier is filled with museums, festivals, art galleries, indoor and outdoor adventures that will keep you busy for hours. The Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau, and KSLA, has teamed up with SB attractions to offer some super-fabulous, exclusively deep discounts available only during Travel and Tourism week. All you have to do is register your email address at BeAFanOfSB.com. Nearly 20 discounts are being offered as part of the “Be a Fan of Shreveport-Bossier” campaign. When you sign up to receive the discounts, you will also be automatically entered to win a “staycation” package including a hotel stay at Hilton Garden Inn/Homewood Suites in Bossier City, 2016 family 4-pack to Splash Kingdom, a $50 gift certificate to Jan’s River Restaurant, as well as a family 4-pack of tickets to Sci-port Discovery Center, a family 6-pack to Holiday Lanes and more.

You can help spread the word too by sharing your photos and experiences on social media with the hashtag #BeAFanofSB.

Here are some useful websites to help you stay engaged:

That Just Happened!!
Robin Williams
Marketing Maven, Holiday Lanes

National Travel and Tourism Week, a project of the U.S. Travel Association, was established by a congressional resolution in 1983. This week of events serves to champion the power of the tourism and hospitality industry. For more information on National Travel and Tourism Week, visit www.ustravel.org.

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Print your #BeAFanOfSB coloring sheet

How many monster apples can you eat?

Boudreaux_rI have this really cool side job promoting The Chocolate Crocodile™ on social media. In case you haven’t heard about The Chocolate Crocodile, in which case I’m not doing an effective job, you need to know that it is the most fabulous candy/chocolate store around. They can dip anything (that’s legal). The Monster Croc Apple is their most popular specialty. More about that in a moment.

IMG_0318In 2005, Jim and Cyndi Ragon decided to leave their full time jobs in Minnesota, move to Bossier City, Louisiana and share their love for chocolate at the newly established Louisiana Boardwalk. Ten years later, they have opened two more stores: Cypress, Texas and Huntsville, Alabama. They are committed to bringing life´s goodness in an elegant, personal atmosphere. Their love extends by specializing in the finest chocolate and caramel delicacies covering the largest juiciest fruits and wrapped in the tastiest crunchiest nuts.

Here are some things you might not know, but should:

  • The Chocolate Crocodile™ uses only the finest chocolate to cover everything from apples to strawberries, peanut butter balls to twinkees, and anything between that you can dream. [If it’s legal – :)] If you don’t see it, they can custom dip it, just ask.
  • They make their caramel fresh, right in the store each day. Yes, homemade. It takes about three hours for each batch. That’s why it tastes so yummy.
  • choccroc4They dip approximately 1300 bushels of apples each year. That’s 83,200 APPLES!
  • In addition to their most popular Monster Croc Pecan Apple, they have 36 different varieties of dipped apples. Each start with a super sized Granny Smith Apple, homemade caramel and layers of chocolate, nuts, sprinkles or confections. (Consider trying the Margarita Apple).
  • Worried about how to eat a Monster Croc Apple? No worries, they will slice your apples so that you can dig right in. I’ve seen the knife, it’s big. Maybe machete is the better word.
  • 10906483_898323243541969_8634360711497633935_nLet’s talk strawberries and apple sizes. Have you seen them? Extra large may be an understatement. The Chocolate Crocodile™ special orders their strawberries and apples. Quality is very important to Jim and Cyndi. If they run out of the fruit, there will be no run to the corner grocery. The standards for consistency in size and quality are of the utmost importance.
  • IMG_6382The Chocolate Crocodile™ has chocolate tours available for groups. Jim, or one of the chocolatiers, will show you around the store, give you the history of chocolate and allow you to have a hands-on experience with dipping chocolate.
  • Are you a wine and chocolate lover? Well then you will want to book a Wine and Chocolate Experience at Jimmy’s Seafood & Steak inside the Margaritaville Resort Casino To book, contact Ashley Davis at 752-1455 or adavis@woodmont.com.
  • They even doggie treats. Their non-chocolate treats are specially formulated so don’t worry about ill effects to your dog.
  • And the last point that I’ll draw your attention to is that you can order The Chocolate Crocodile™ yummies from ANYWHERE! Yes, they have ONLINE ORDERING. Check it out.

Today, The Chocolate Crocodile™ appeared on the KTBS First News morning show to discuss the upcoming Monster Apple Eating Contest that will be held at the KTBS/KPXJ Independence Day Festival. On-air personalities, Rick Rowe and Brian Fowler took a shot at an early challenge.

Who do you think was the winner there?

So now, let’s talk about how many monster apples you can eat. Let’s find out on the 4th of July. Head down to the Independence Day Festival at Shreveport’s Festival Plaza. 2015_Choc_Croc_Apple_Eating_FlyerThe Monster Apple Eating Contest begins at 3 pm on the Community Stage, under the Farmer’s Market Pavilion near the train depot. Adults and children are encouraged to give it all they’ve got! You will have 7 minutes to eat all the Monster Croc Apples that you can. There will be cash prizes for 1st thru 3rd place for both adult and children categories. Holiday Lanes will provide water for the event and has provided game passes for anyone who signs up, along with prizes for the winners. My good friend Thomas at Maccentric has provided the apples for the event. (good fit, don’t ya think?)

Sign up online now and don’t forget to follow The Chocolate Crocodile™.

That just happened.
Robin Williams,
Marketing Maven at Holiday Lanes

It really takes a community

People tell me every day that I seem to have such a fun life and then they ask how I know what’s going on in the Shreveport-Bossier community. Most of the time, I rattle off how I heard about particular events. One of the things that annoys me most is when people say that there is nothing to do in our locale. It is so NOT true. Sometimes my calendar has so many events that I have to cull my choices. I thought it might be fun to make a list of the people and organizations who contribute community event information to my life each day.

BCC new logoBossier Chamber of Commerce – I have been a diplomat for the Bossier Chamber for 5 years. This year I decided to take some time off in an official capacity, but I still make an effort to be at the events. The Bossier Chamber is probably my best resource for networking. I find the info to attend on their website calendars:

facebookFacebook Events – I hear people say they hate getting all of the event invites on Facebook. Not me! I rejoice in them, because behind each one is a person that created the event with hopes for even one “going” response. This is my main resource for finding out information about events in our community. Of course, from time to time, there are events that I’m not interested in attending, but I still look at them and value them as a contribution of knowledge in my life. I link my Facebook events with my iCal and Google calendars so that I don’t miss an opportunity. ALSO, I invite people to those events and share, share, share!

IMG_9723Jada Durden – Recently Jada was named my true soul mate by Captain Quizz, so you know it must be true. Jada has a very similar vision as mine and has made a huge impact in contributing to my life. She is in the know when it comes to the events, restaurants and attractions that are appealing. Jada writes the Loving This Life blog and has been honored by Louisiana Travel as a top 11 blogs to follow in Louisiana. She also writes for the Shreveport Times, has her own videographer and more plans in the works for sharing.  Her contribution is enormous and you should be following her every move.

IMG_7664Chris Jay and Sara Hebert – This dynamic duo = THE cool kids in town. Chris knows lots, and even more about food. Sara is who I strive to be, even though I’m sure she is 20 years younger. I follow both on social media just to pick up any nuggets they might be chucking, especially the events that they share. They know about music, food, events and even weird stuff that you didn’t think you needed to know. I’ll let you figure out those on your own. Oh, and they dress really cool. I want to rip off their style, yet I’m afraid I’m too old to pull it off. Together Sara and Chris produce the All Y’all Blog, Live Storytelling Events and Podcasts. Sara is the marketing genius at Moonbot Studios and Chris is the extra hard working Public Relations and Social Media Manager for the Shreveport- Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau and writes the 20×49 Blog (listed next).  I hear that Chris writes for six magazines. Ask him about it.

19120_10153133965946328_887482314413511101_nShreveport- Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau (SBCTB) – I serve on the Attractions Association Board with the SBCTB and get lots of info just by hanging around those folks. On days when I can’t think of anything to do, I check out the SB Fun Guide and 20×49 blog:

1507837_10201883458861266_1240861387_nRobert Trudeau – Robert is one of those people who you just want to stand close to in hopes that his creativity will waft over to you. If I’m looking for info about music, art, or community, Robert is the one I look to. Robert is the editor of the Shreveport Blog and I look to him for my cultural arts fill. His wife Talbot is a fabulous artist and they make a great team.

Shreveport Chamber of Commerce – As with the Bossier Chamber, the Shreveport Chamber has many opportunities to connect with others in our community.

These are just a few of the info powerhouses that I look to for my pulse on the community. I wanted to add paragraphs to acknowledge the likes of:

but we would be here for quite a while. It really takes a community to know your community. I guess what I’m saying is . . . get to know those who know.

That just happened.
Robin Williams,
Marketing Maven at Holiday Lanes

Peanut Butter for Chimps

IMG_9881

These chimps made me smile today!

Have you ever been to Chimp Haven? Do you know what Chimp Haven is? Before today, I knew what Chimp Haven was, but had not ever visited the facility. I’m so glad I had this opportunity and can share with you.

Chimp Haven is a non-profit National Chimpanzee Sanctuary located in Keithville, Louisiana inside the Eddie D. Jones Nature Park. They provide housing and humane care for over 200 chimpanzees who have been subjects of biomedical research and other purposes for which they are no longer being used. In addition, Chimp Haven is committed to educating the public about these endangered nonhuman primates and the needs for conservation in the wild and protection in captivity.

Ashley showed me around Chimp Haven. She's awesome!

Ashley showed me around Chimp Haven. She’s awesome!

Part of my job with Holiday Lanes is to build community within our area. It’s important for us to be a leader in cross-promoting other attractions and non-profits. What this does for us is to help us see beyond ourselves. By learning what other organizations are doing and offering, we learn how to serve in a bigger way. It also gives us an opportunity to share the sport of bowling with a wider audience. Today, I met with Ashley at Chimp Haven to discuss our involvement with their June Fest 2015 – Discovery Day. A bowling lane in the relay race it is!

This is Matthew.

This is Matthew.

Chimp Haven June Fest 2015 event is being held on June 20, 2015 from 9 am – 1 pm. June Fest is going to be a super fun day of activities and exploration. You will be able to observe over 50 chimpanzees in the natural wooded habitat. You can talk to staff about the chimpanzee’s personalities and natural behavior. There will be games and field day activities (INCLUDING BOWLING!).  The cost for the day is

  • Adult (13 and older): $6
  • Children (12-6): $3
  • Children (5 and younger): Free
  • Optional Behind-The-Scene Hayrides: Adults: $10; Children: $5

IMG_9873I want you to consider making the drive to Chimp Haven. I really think you will be amazed at the service they are providing for these amazing primates. If you are interested in helping Chimp Haven, they have opportunities for volunteerism, donation and participation. Check out the ways that Chimp Haven relies on generosity. 

IMG_9887So now, about this peanut butter. Ashley tells me that they are having a peanut butter drive during the June Fest event. Peanut butter is a great supplement to the chimpanzees diet. With over 200 chimps, can you imagine how much peanut butter they might need? Everyone is encouraged to bring a jar of peanut butter for chimps. There will be prizes for the person who brings the most peanut butter. Will it be you?

Follow Chimp Haven:  Facebook  |  Website  |  Twitter  |  YouTube

That just happened.
Robin Williams,
Marketing Maven at Holiday Lanes