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Meet Tammy Hauser
March 27, 2023 | CanvasRebel Magazine

Tammy, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. To kick things off, we’d love to hear about things you or your brand do that diverge from the industry standard

Our company is a hybrid of the worlds of theater and tourism. Generally these worlds do not collide but at Discover Sarasota Tours they come together by providing entertaining and informative daytime tours and nighttime original musicals on wheels!

Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers

When I moved to Sarasota from Minneapolis in 2015, I wondered why there were no trolley tours in a tourist town with such a storied past. As an arts consultant (part of my past 20-year career), I was asked to take on the role of leading the Center for Architecture Sarasota as part of a Gulf Coast Community Foundation consulting assignment. For them, I developed the Architectural Trolley Tours which led to me realizing the potential for other types of tours. In 2018, I started my own tour company Discover Sarasota Tours (DST) to showcase all the wonderful and hidden aspects of Sarasota’s rich history and culture. DST offered three trolley tours when we started (Circus Tour, City Tour, and the Haunted Tour) but now have 15 different tour themes running all year long. During COVID to keep the business open, I operated The ChillMobile vintage ice cream truck which became so popular it was featured in a FB movie and in AARP Magazine as the ultimate pivot business. My career in the arts as a theater performer, director, and producer taught me how to bring stories to life in an informative and entertaining way which remains the hallmark aspect of all DST tours.

Prior to my role with DST, I spent 23 years as the Founder & CEO of a consulting firm for arts organizations called Blue Sky Thinking LLC, and before that worked as an Arts Administrator for state grant makers, museums, theater and dance companies, Broadway Theater, and live radio shows for 15 years. I am also the creator of The Ultimate Pajama Party™, a grown-up girls’ slumber party extravaganza and commercial theater enterprise.

When I started DST, I was ready to leave my world of arts consulting for nonprofits and be able to make my own decisions rather than enacting Board decisions. Running a company that sold goods and services instead of time and expertise seemed like a whole new exciting challenge. I saw a unique need to offer tours that no one else was offering and thought they would be successful because this area is filled with smart, curious people who love to learn and have fun while doing that.

I am so proud of what we do, of my tour guides and of our resilience to just keep going. It’s so important to help new residents learn about their new homes so that they may cherish some of our remaining historical buildings. It’s also important for residents to keep falling in love with our area as they learn new things about where they live.

Like a professional theater company with a new season each year, we are we are continually adding new tours. In the works are a Naturalist tour for nature lovers and a Sunset Cabaret Craft Beer & Music tour for younger residents and visitors. Our night time “theatrical shows on wheels” will be adding new Murder storylines during 2024 and really, there are just so many new things happening that we could offer 20 tours and not cover it all!

Have you ever had to pivot?

Our business was shut down March 20, 2020 a day I will never forget. Fortunately, I had purchased a 1979 vintage ice cream truck two months prior and because I had to work, had bills to pay and operating costs to cover, I learned the ice cream business in a week and was off selling ice cream with my dog Max. For two years, The ChillMobile ice cream truck paid the bills while we waited for the world to return to normal. We were so successful that Facebook Marketplace came to make a movie about us now seen by more than 2 million viewers. We were also featured in AARP Magazine as an example of a mid-life pivot and in several other national and local magazines. I was most pleased that we won BEST NEW BUSINESS Award in 2020 during a very challenging year.

Let’s talk about resilience next – do you have a story you can share with us?

See above! I would also say that in the past four years, we have never had a normal year. We started during a bad bout of Red Tide which drastically cut tourism. Then we had 2 years of COVID and this past year has been filled with staffing challenges, hurricane Ian, inflation, political divisiveness and trauma with the loss of Max and Michael two beloved staff members. We have weathered all these storms as a strong team and look forward to easier times ahead!

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