The large, puffy and oh-so-cute Parker the Owl pops up everywhere — along Park Avenue, at celebrations, parades, on your Facebook feed and the pages of ILuvWinterPark.com
He seems to always know what’s going on down the Avenue, alerting fans to the latest happenings in Winter Park’s business and social scenes.
But who is the man underneath that furry owl head?
It’s a question he gets often, in little messages sent to his ILuvWinterPark Facebook account, and it makes him smile. The man underneath Parker the Owl, the face of his website is…local Clyde Moore.
Donning an animal costume and living in Winter Park weren’t life aspirations, but they fit his personality perfectly, Moore said.
“The best things in life are the ones you sort of stumble into,” he said.
And that applies to a few things Moore loves most in his life — falling into his owl costume, spontaneously buying a home in Winter Park on a weekend trip to the town, and the start of ILuvWinterPark.com
The site offers a place for Winter Park businesses to promote themselves, for free, with deal vouchers for customers. It’s very similar to a Groupon site, but it’s by locals for locals, and there are no merchant fees — Groupon takes half of the sales revenue.
Moore said he hopes his site can help Winter Park business owners bring in local traffic that will come back again and again, not just customers after a one-time deal. He said he loves helping his “Parkpreneurs” and keeping the city he loves full of successful, diverse shops and restaurants.
“I do love living in a dynamic environment … and I’d like to be the place that these businesses can turn, rather than some of the big deal sites that are out there, because I think that a lot of those can be detrimental to small business,” he said. “I wanted to be the positive, very localized alternative to them.”
Helpful to business and the community
“I think it’s astounding the number of people that come in as a result of that, and what it does is it gives not only us exposure, but it gives Park Avenue exposure,” said Lettie Sexton, owner of Downeast. “He brings in an entirely different person that has ever come in the store, people perhaps who would never have come in the store.”
Moore runs The Attic @ Downeast on the second level of the retail store facing the Avenue. The Attic sells local art including Moore’s own mosaics, and high-end designer closeouts from Downeast. He often invites artists to paint in front of the floor-to-ceiling window that overlooks Central Park.
He also helps with promotion for Downeast. Sexton calls him “helpful to a fault,” and said his creativity knows no bounds. He’ll even text her in the middle of the night if he gets an idea for her store.
Moore, who has a background in marketing and journalism, said he has always had an entrepreneurial and fun, free spirit, and felt like Florida’s atmosphere was a perfect match for that. It’s made for small businesses, he said, and supporting them benefits the whole community.
And merchants share his vision — Ginny Enstad of Ginny’s Orchids said his enthusiasm and help make all the difference for small businesses in a competitive, mall-filled market.
“Every penny that you spend locally, that money trickles right down into our own economy; in Winter Park it helps,” Sexton said. “I think people forget that if you don’t shop locally, your community suffers all the way.”
Moore, who moved to Winter Park six years ago, has a passion for the city that is clear the moment he starts talking about it. There’s not a thing he doesn’t like about his home. Actually, he said he barely ever leaves it. He jokes that if his partner wants dinner outside of his little bubble, he’ll have to find a new date.
“He won’t go outside the zip code,” his partner, Jim Kiger, said. “And the good thing is you don’t really have to.”
Check out Clyde Moore’s deals at ILuvWinterPark.com or on Facebook at Facebook.com/winterpark
Moore’s weekly column in The Observer debuts on May 3.
Soon, his insider knowledge and enthusiasm for our city will be coming to the pages of the Observer with Moore’s weekly column spotlighting what he sees as wonderful, unique and great in Winter Park. Through his site and the column, he’ll share what he finds on his adventures around town, and learn a few things about it himself.
“Sometimes that’s just reminding people what we have at our fingertips,” he said. “I feel so fortunate to live in a community and a place that I love so much.”