Public Invited to Nominate Retail Business or Restaurant for a South Florida Independent Retailer Award

The program recognizes small businesses that serve residents and help drive the local economy

Avoiding the financial consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic has been nearly impossible for many independent retailers and restaurants. To help recognize their commitment to the local economy, the South Florida Independent Retailer Awards (SFIRA) requests the public’s help to identify locally owned retail shops and restaurants worthy of consideration in 2021. The event is in its third year, with more than 400 business owners and shopping center landlords expected to attend.

“During the pandemic, retail tenants and landlords collaborated in ways hardly seen before for the mutual benefit of survival,” says Beth Azor, co-founder of the awards program and member of the organizing committee. “The businesses that made it through deserve to be recognized and thanked now more than ever. We are so grateful and appreciative of the response from sponsors this year, including Blue Waters Development Group that will be the major underwriting sponsor for this year’s awards.”

Nominations for a South Florida Independent Retailer Award can be emailed to with a description of why the business deserves the award. The only requirements are that companies must be independent (non-franchise or corporate), have at least two locations in the tri-county area and are in expansion mode. There will be at least 10 categories with three finalists in each. The winner will be selected during real-time voting by the live audience comprised mostly of retailers and shopping center owners. Nominations are due by Oct. 8.

“We are looking for those iconic businesses that are household names and have been serving local communities for more than a quarter-century,” Azor says. “We know a bunch of them but would still like to hear from the public about those that might be under the radar.”

SFIRA is introducing a new category for 2021 called the Icon Award. Any independent retailer or restaurateur that has been in business for more than 35 years will be recognized at the event and receive a special plaque to commemorate their longevity and service to the region.

Another aspect of the awards program is the Retail “Shark Tank.” During the ceremony, this category involves a local business that intends to open a new location sitting on stage face-to-face with three shopping center landlords, pitting one against the other, to find the best lease deal.

“This is definitely one of the highlights of the day,” Azor says. “It’s so fun to watch these property owners go head-to-head and give it their best shot to entice a new occupant to one of their properties.”

The South Florida Independent Retailer Awards® is an Academy Award-style event held from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 4 at the Signature Grand in Davie. All net proceeds will benefit a local charity.

SFBW Staff
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