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News Bites: Beverly Hills, 32204; Up in Smoke; Birthday Song

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BEVERLY HILLS 32204

What’s in a ZIP code? Quite a bit, according to RENTCafe.com. Matthew Farina of the Florida Times-Union touts the apartment search site’s recently published list, which names 32204 as the sixth top trending millennial hot-spot in the entire U.S.

“Vintage homes, trendy coffee shops, eccentric restaurants and hip breweries have made Jacksonville’s 32204 ZIP Code—Riverside, Five Points and Brooklyn—a haven for millennials, young people between 18 and 38 years of age,” observes Farina.

Only certain Los Angeles, New York and Portland ZIP codes registered higher increases in millennials’ share of the overall population. Jacksonville’s 32204 edged out all Florida competitors, including strong contenders in Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, Orlando and Miami.

Farina spoke with Jacksonville realtor Beth King, who cites the meltdown of the housing market and Downtown redevelopment as prime factors in this migration.

And this is just the beginning. “As millennials continue to shift the economic and cultural landscape of Jacksonville,” Farina concludes, “their influence is expected to supplement projects by city officials who look to double Downtown’s population within the next few years.”

UP IN SMOKE

The rise of electronic cigarettes breathed new life into an ailing industry. After decades of regulatory and public relations setbacks, Big Tobacco has found a new product and a new market. Travis Gibson of the St. Augustine Record describes how St. Johns County businesses are caught between regulatory loopholes, cynical youth marketing and authorities’ belated scramble to tame the Wild West of vaping.

“Local youths are using JUULs more than ever,” the headline announces. “Here’s what the FDA is doing to stop it.”

JUULs are “sleek electronic cigarette[s] that can contain high levels of nicotine and [have] exploded in popularity since [they] came onto the market in 2015.” They are especially popular among teenagers, thanks to their assorted flavors. “Last year,” Gibson writes, “the St. Johns County School District had 311 ’vape-related incidents’ involving students.”

Since these products don’t contain tobacco, however, “there is no retail license or permit required [on the state or local levels] to sell e-cigarettes and all the businesses where vapes are being sold cannot be fully identified and regulated.”

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has stepped in to correct this oversight, “issu[ing] more than 1,300 warning letters and fines to retailers who illegally sold JUUL and other e-cigarette products to minors across the nation this summer.”

On the frontlines are business owners like Chris Olearczyk of St. Augustine’s VAPOR Smoke Shop, who was forced to fork out $300 on an ID scanner to verify customers’ ages and preempt a warning letter. What does he do when he catches a would-be JUULer red-handed?

“I just tell them, ‘Come back when you’re 18.’”

BIRTHDAY SONG

After more than 40 years in business, Dave Plummer has learned to cater to the lowest common denominator. The founder of Jacksonville Beach-based Cypress Records now offers his recording studio for birthday parties.

Why? Well, as Paris Moulden of the Ponte Vedra Recorder explains, “If there’s one thing everybody across the world has in common, it’s that they all have a birthday.”

Inspired by RCA Studio B in Nashville, Plummer built the studio himself decades ago. Much of the hardware dates back to the 1960s. And though he’s had a host of famous country, rock and jazz names pass through Cypress Records over the years, there’s a limited demand for vintage analog studio recording in the Pro Tools era.

This new concept guarantees the soon-to-be-77-year-old audio engineer a bit of job security.

“Plummer got the suggestion his recording studio might make a great birthday party place when he was out painting his building purple and gold not long ago,” Moulden writes. “He was approached by a woman who asked if he’d ever thought about holding a birthday party there and was interested in doing one for her daughter. After that, the idea took flight. Birthday party guests of all ages could have something different from the norm, and be the star of their own show. Party guests receive a CD of their studio recordings.”

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