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

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 beth@azoradvisoryservices.com 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.

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky



Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.