BRANDON — You haven't been hallucinating. There really is a 5-foot-tall white rabbit standing on Parsons Avenue.
At least it's there during business hours, welcoming people to an eclectic new shop called, of course, White Rabbit.
Jen Burhans and Laura Hovan had been selling antiques in separate spaces they leased from another local antique dealer for many years. They decided to join forces and open their own place. They opened White Rabbit April 13.
It's proving to be a good partnership, Burhans said. The two owners' aesthetic sensibilities mesh, but they have different areas of interest and expertise that complement each other.
"She brings in a lot of the furniture, and she knows a lot about that," Burhans said. "I tend to bring in the dishes, the smaller stuff."
Both want the shop to be something other than the standard, stuffy antique store. So besides 18th century armoires, they stock contemporary jewelry created by local artisans, old books, affordable but artistic gifts and greeting cards. There's also a section devoted to children's items.
They are gearing up for a grand opening June 4 and 5, but meanwhile Burhans said she and Hovan are pleased with how business is going. Part of the credit goes to a great location, on Parsons just a block south of Brandon Boulevard. But Burhans said the 5-foot-tall papier-mache rabbit, created for the store by an artist friend, has brought a lot of attention. It's not unusual for people who are visiting friends at Brandon Regional Hospital to stop in the store just because they're curious about that rabbit.
White Rabbit is open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. For information, call (813) 681-2950.
Right-priced jeweler to double up at mall
It has been only about a week since Venetian Jewelers opened at the Westfield Brandon mall, but owner Amit Trehan is already planning a second store there.
Trehan opened Venetian Jewelers in Orlando nine years ago. Then he started a sister store called Bellagio Jewelers. Before the new store opened in Brandon, he had two Venetian and two Bellagio shops in Sanford and Orlando. He plans to open a Bellagio in Westfield Brandon in September.
Both stores specialize in diamond jewelry. Bellagio will focus on custom-designed items. Venetian's business will be more off-the-rack.
But that doesn't mean Venetian stocks lower-quality merchandise, Trehan said. The inventory includes some affordable diamond jewelry, with prices as low as about $30, but also features items that run as high as $12,000.
No matter what price point his clients seek, though, Trehan said he wants to give them the best price he can. In this economy, he said, even people shopping for luxury items want bargains.
"I deal directly with the manufacturers," he said. "There's no middle man, and I don't have the high overhead that some of the big chains have. I can offer fine jewelry at about 30 percent less than some of my competitors."
Venetian Jewelers is open from 10 a.m. until 9 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. Sunday. For information, call (813) 681-6363.
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