A couple from Chicago has bought Gill's Grocery & Deli Market on Gasparilla Island from 10-year owner Grant Quirk.
Purchase price was not disclosed for the North Village Plaza business mainstay. Official closing date is May 1.
Jill and Steve Kaplan, who sold his title abstract business in the Windy City after 23 years, have often vacationed on Gasparilla Island. Now they own a home and will soon operate a business here.
Steve and Jill Kaplan, owners to-be of the Gill’s Grocery & Deli Market on Gasparilla Island.
"We love the island and we were looking for something to do in retirement," Steve Kaplan said.
"We wanted a change in lifestyle," Jill Kaplan said.
Quirk moved to Little Gasparilla Island in 1981 and bought Gill's Grocery in the Courtyard Plaza April 15, 2003.
"It was a perfect fit," said Quirk. "I think it's the 15th business I've sold. Sometimes there are hang-ups. I don't think there's a hang-up in this one."
Despite battling leukemia, the 76-year-old Iron Man of Boca Grande kept the store open 365 days a year. Hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.
"We have never closed it for one whole day," Quirk said. "I like to think we provide a service when the others are closed."
But his health issues are pressing.
"Yes, sure it was health-related," Quirk said. "I need to get time off. There's no question about it. I've got a little problem. It's nothing I dwell on or worry about though."
The philosophy for Gill's Grocery, which stocks everything from groceries to cigars, T-shirts to shells, booze to bubblegum, is to respond to consumer demand.
"Whatever the customer wants," Quirk said.
The groceries and deli are the biggest sellers. Quirk added fish tackle, bait, T-shirts, souvenirs and golf carts to the inventory and sales slid during the Great Recession. He never missed a marketing move.
"The people come here first when they arrive on the island and last when they leave," he said.
Quirk kept the store name of Gill's Grocery, named after former owner Tom Gill. The new owners say they will continue to do business year-round but the name may change some time down the road, operating hours may lengthen and improvements such as more ice cream and outside seating are possible.
"We're so excited," Jill Kaplan said.