Make us your home page
Victoria's Parlour Antiques

Belleair Bluffs business owner grew up in the rug business

Pat France’s rug collection includes more than 200 rugs from all around the world, some of which are a century old.


Pat France’s rug collection includes more than 200 rugs from all around the world, some of which are a century old.

Jewelry, glass and pottery, lamps, paintings, wall hangings and bric-a-brac crowd the aisles and walls of Victoria's Parlour Antiques. But the heart of the business is a back room jammed with a jumble of Oriental rugs, some standing upright in rolls, others on open stacks. The only way to see the sizes, shapes, colors and designs of the rugs is to thumb through books featuring them in more than 200 photographs.

Pat France grew up in the rug business and has spent a lifetime developing an eye and taste for them. Her collection represents every major rug-making area in the world, she says. Some are a century old.

"I have a lot of Persian rugs, some Turkish, Armenian, some Chinese," she said. Styles range from art deco to traditional and modern.

When France was a child, her playground was a store filled with more than a thousand wool and silk rugs from around the world — Paulson & Co., a family business in Swarthmore, Pa., established by her grandfather in 1914.

From age 4, she played on the store's rugs, watched them being cleaned and saw them displayed for customers.

On family outings to museums with her brother and sister, "we would always play a game," she recalled. "Whatever was on the walls — paintings or rugs — we would have to describe why we liked it, whether it was the beauty of the colors, the clarity of the design or something about it that caught our senses."

Seeking a warmer climate, Wesley and Dorothy France left their hometown of Swarthmore in 1957, moved to Largo with their three children and started France Rugs.

At the time, Pat France was 8 years old and entered Mildred Helms Elementary School.

She worked summers in the family store as a teenager and after graduating from Florida Southern College in 1971, she joined the business.

When she turned 20, her uncle, Paul Paulson, invited her on a buying and selling trip to New York City. The only room for her was in the back of the truck on top of rugs.

It's one of her fondest memories.

"It was the neatest experience," she said. "We would stop at a dozen places a day. I got to go into all the showrooms and warehouses and see how different people do business."

She also learned the art of rug repair and reweaving. Her teacher was award-winning artist Mildred "Muggsy" Kelso, who learned her craft at the Philadelphia Institute of Art.

When her parents retired in 1984, some of the rugs went to the family store in Swarthmore and Pat France took some when she started her own business that same year in Antique Alley in Belleair Bluffs.

"For years, I had customers that I inherited from my parents," she said. "I've always liked the challenge of finding things for people. I brought paintings and jewelry for one customer, then her kids and now her grandkids."

With the changing economy, her buying has become more selective.

"I used to buy everything under the sun. Now I'm much more particular, much more critical," she said.

"I buy as high quality as I can or something that's really unique. Things have to have something extra to sell these days. Usual isn't going to cut it."

Chris Cosdon can be reached at

Victoria's Parlour Antiques

Where: 568 N Indian Rocks Road, Belleair Bluffs.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.

For more information: Call (727) 581-0519.

Belleair Bluffs business owner grew up in the rug business 01/17/09 [Last modified: Saturday, January 17, 2009 3:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trigaux: Amid a record turnout, regional technology group spotlights successes, desire to do more


    ST. PETERSBURG — They came. They saw. They celebrated Tampa Bay's tech momentum.

    A record turnout event by the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, held May 24 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, featured a panel of area tech executives talking about the challenges encountered during their respective mergers and acquisitions. Show, from left to right, are: Gerard Purcell, senior vice president of global IT integration at Tech Data Corp.; John Kuemmel, chief information officer at Triad Retail Media, and Chris Cate, chief operating officer at Valpak. [Robert Trigaux, Times]
  2. Take 2: Some fear Tampa Bay Next transportation plan is TBX redux


    TAMPA — For many, Wednesday's regional transportation meeting was a dose of deja vu.

    The Florida Department of Transportation on Monday announced that it was renaming its controversial Tampa Bay Express plan, also known as TBX. The plan will now be known as Tampa Bay Next, or TBN. But the plan remains the same: spend $60 billion to add 90 miles of toll roads to bay area interstates that are currently free of tolls. [Florida Department of Transportation]
  3. Palm Harbor boat dealer facing litany of complaints of bad deals


    PALM HARBOR — With an aging father sick in the hospital and a son just graduating high school, Andrew Kashella, in between jobs, knew what he had to do.

    A sign on a front window of Gulf Coast Boat Sales, 37517 Us Highway 19 N, in Palm Harbor, notifies people they are under restructuring  The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office has received 20 complaints against Gulf Coast Boat Sales in Palm Harbor. Complainants say they sold the shop their boats and never got paid and/or paid for boats they never received. Pinellas County Consumer Protection is leading the investigation.
  4. To catch a poacher: Florida wildlife officers set up undercover gator farm sting


    To catch a ring of poachers who targeted Florida's million-dollar alligator farming industry, state wildlife officers created the ultimate undercover operation.

    To catch a ring of poachers who targeted Florida's million-dollar alligator farming industry, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission set up an undercover operation. They created their own alligator farm, complete with plenty of real, live alligators, watched over by real, live undercover wildlife officers. It also had hidden video cameras to record everything that happened. That was two years ago, and on Wednesday wildlife officers announced that they arrested nine people on  44 felony charges alleging they broke wildlife laws governing alligator harvesting, transporting eggs and hatchlings across state lines, dealing in stolen property, falsifying records, racketeering and conspiracy. The wildlife commission released these photos of alligators, eggs and hatchlings taken during the undercover operation. [Courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission]
  5. CBO analysis: 23 million would lose health coverage under House-passed bill


    WASHINGTON — The Republican health care bill that passed the House earlier this month would nearly double the number of Americans without health insurance over the next decade, according to a new analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

    Demonstrators protests the passage of a House Republican health care bill, outside the the Capitol in Washington, on May 4. The House took the unusual step of voting on the American Health Care Act before the Congressional Budget Office could assess it. That analysis was released Thursday and it showed the bill would cause 23 million fewer people to have health insurance by 2026. Many additional consumers would see skimpier health coverage and higher deductibles, the budget office projected.