It Can Be Hard to Find that Perfect Gift, so We Scouted Four Local Shops with Lots of Present Potential
Wickedly Fun Gifts!
Did you say rum? We say yum!
While Wicked Dolphin only opened for business in Cape Coral in 2012, the company has been making waves and gaining accolades ever since. Owner JoAnn Elardo and her dedicated team have created award-winning rums that receive rave reviews locally, nationally and internationally.
“I was retired. I sold my business outright, and I had some commodities and some investments in agriculture. I was looking into the sugar industry and happened to try a pretty terrible bottle of rum,” JoAnn says. “After trying that awful rum, I knew I could do better than that—and I knew I wanted to do it locally.”
Wicked Dolphin uses 100 percent Florida sugar—sourced just miles from the distillery—and the rum is handcrafted in small batches using an American copper pot still, the largest in South Florida.
A bottle of Wicked Dolphin rum starts around $20, and prices go up from there, depending on the style, flavor or blend you prefer.
Along with their reserve rums—spiced, silver and gold—Wicked Dolphin offers a premium line of flavored rums, including vanilla, pineapple, coconut and Pine Island mango. If you’re feeling a little more “wicked,” there’s also the 100-proof rumshine. They also occasionally offer limited edition special blends—which JoAnn tells us sell out fast!
While the main attraction is the hard stuff, the gift options go beyond bottles of booze. Wicked Dolphin also offers plenty of fun merchandise—T-shirts, hats, glassware, barware, flasks or even your very own oak barrel (well, smaller ones than they use). Additionally, they sell their own brand of barbecue and hot sauces.
“We offer lots of great gift items, and we can create custom gift baskets with any of the items you’d like to include,” JoAnn says. “It really makes a fun holiday gift.”
When you stop by to pick up a few gifts, you should also plan to take the complimentary distillery tour and indulge in a few “on the house” drink samples.
If you can’t make it to the distillery, Wicked Dolphin rum—and their recently debuted Wicked Dolphin vodka—are available at many liquor stores in Florida and across the Southeast.
Be sure to check out their unique Wicked Dolphin drink recipes at WickedDolphin.com/Flavors.
131 SW Third Place, 239.242.5244, Cape Coral, WickedDolphin.com
A Poppin’ Good Present!
It would be hard to miss Wild About Popcorn while driving along Del Prado—and inside the shop is popping!
While Julie and Ed Caracappa only opened their shop in March, it seems like this Cape newcomer is already known throughout the area as a popcorn lover’s paradise.
“The community has really embraced us,” Julie says. “It’s been wonderful. We’re really blessed.”
Julie was a registered pediatric ER nurse for more than 30 years in Texas, but after the couple relocated to Cape Coral four years ago, she wanted to try a new career. She decided to take a local entrepreneurship class to get some training and ideas.
“I really just wanted to try something new. I wanted to run my own business,” Julie says. “Honestly, I don’t know why I decided on a popcorn shop, but after I started doing the research, I knew it could really take off here in Cape Coral.”
While popcorn brings to mind movie theaters, fairs and fun times, the Caracappas put in long hours and long days to make their popcorn perfect.
“We make about 300 gallons of popcorn on weekends and 100 to 150 gallons on weekdays,” Ed says. “It’s exciting, but it’s a lot of work.”
They currently offer more than 50 flavors of popcorn, including traditional favorites like buttery, cheddar cheese and caramel, as well as more experimental flavors like Sour Patch, Unicorn Charm and strawberry cheesecake. And they are always looking to create new popcorn formulations.
“We love trying out new recipe ideas. We even take suggestions from our customers,” Julie says.
“Some days it’s like a science experiment in here, tasting and testing to get the flavors just right,” Ed says.
Bags of popcorn start at $3.95. Filled popcorn tins start at $31.50. One of their popular deals is that anyone who purchases or is gifted a filled popcorn tin can return and get it refilled for half-price.
Wild About Popcorn also offers custom gift baskets and plenty of other sweet treats. They are also a featured vendor at the Cape Coral Farmers Market. Best of all, they offer free samples, so why not stop by to taste the exciting flavors yourself?
1311 Del Prado Blvd., Cape Coral, 239.829.0527, WildAboutPopcorn.com
Give Something that Glitters!
For more than 40 years, Zak’s Jewelry has provided Cape Coral families with special and memorable pieces that make for lifetime treasures.
Still family-owned and operated, Zak’s opened on Cape Coral Parkway in 1977 when Mike Zak’s family moved to burgeoning Southwest Florida.
“My grandfather owned a popular jewelry store in New Jersey, but then they decided to move down here. Now I’m part of the third generation of the business,” says Alison Polo, Mike Zak’s granddaughter, vice president of the family business and a Cape Coral native. “I can’t imagine doing anything else. Every day is unique, and we love being part of this community.”
Alison runs the store with her father, Thomas Rosanio, her brother, Michael, and several very dedicated staff members.
So, what are the hot jewelry items for the 2018 holidays? Allison says current trends include stackable rings, Florida-related pendants, pre-owned estate jewelry and, of course, engagement rings.
“Last year it was diamond stud earrings, which continue to be popular—who doesn’t love diamond stud earrings? But this year the stackable diamond rings seem to be the sought-after gift,” Alison says. “Then there are the engagement rings. Those are always, always popular around the holidays.”
The store offers a vast array of beautiful jewelry items in various price ranges, so there is certainly something for every budget. Additionally, they offer a wide range of services, including resizing, in-house repairs, appraisals and custom design.
“If you have an idea of what you are looking for, we invite you to come in, and we can help you find the perfect item or we can even assist you in designing something totally custom,” Alison says. “We love making our customers happy!”
1314 Cape Coral Parkway, Cape Coral, 239.542.7766, ZaksJewelry.com
Do you have a comic book, collectable or game enthusiast on your holiday list? There’s a good chance you will find something they will totally geek out over at Cool Comics and Games. The largest store of its kind in Lee County, owner Thomas Lotz will celebrate his 15th year of ownership in March 2019.
“We are really lucky to have a loyal following,” Thomas says. “I think everyone keeps coming back because of what we offer and our tournaments. There’s definitely a community feeling here.”
Also, if there is something you are looking for that the store might not have in stock—or might be rare or hard to find—Thomas says he and his staff will do their best to track a special item down.
“We can definitely special order things,” Thomas says. ”Obviously it depends on the item, but we can usually get things here in about a week. If it’s for the holidays or a birthday, we just need a little advance notice.”
Not familiar with the comic and gaming scene? Not to worry! Thomas and his staff will most likely have all the answers you’re looking for.
“I can handle most of the question and requests about comics, toys and collectibles and the games. Aside from myself, I have two great employees who really are experts in various areas,” Thomas says. “Amanda knows a lot of the gaming stuff, especially Warhammer. Darrell is the Pokemon professor, and he’s also very fluent in Doctor Who and Harry Potter.”
Cool Comics and Games has a large and varied selection of fun merchandise—so it’s definitely worth a visit even just to browse. They get new comics every Wednesday and host game tournaments almost daily.
311 Del Prado Blvd., Cape Coral, 239.573.7468, Facebook.com/CoolComicsAndGames