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Christian bookstore Saint Thomas Cafe closing after 13 years

PALMA CEIA WEST — To small business owners everywhere, Darlene Yetta's story is an increasingly familiar one.

The owner of Saint Thomas Café — formerly Just for Heaven's Sake — is closing her shop after 13 years at 4135 Henderson Blvd. in search of greener pastures.

"We've always struggled, and I needed to get a job that paid," Yetta said. "That's the bottom line."

Yetta tried many creative ways to make her Christian book and gift store profitable, including an extensive renovation last year that expanded the shop and added a small café.

But it was hard enough to compete with the big-box stores and online retailers that in recent years had begun offering similar products. The slumping economy finally forced Yetta's decision to close.

"I've talked to other (Christian bookstore) owners," she said. "I think with the smaller shops like ours, it's all just a matter of time."

Yetta said the store will have a going-out-of-business sale until the doors close Feb. 7.

She will continue to take special orders and sell her Saintly Scents candle line on her Web site, www.justforheaven.com.

Paint away the blahs?

Even in the toughest of times, painting instructor Sandra Hoffman believes there are people willing to splurge on creative indulgences.

This week she moved her Sandra Hoffman School of Art into a retail space at 4123 Henderson Blvd., just a few doors down from Saint Thomas Café. She leased the 1,200-square-foot storefront, roomy enough for 14 students at a time, after her home art studio grew too cramped.

Hoffman's motto? A quote from Henri Matisse: "Creativity takes courage."

That sounds about right.

"Art is definitely discretionary funds, and most people do it more for an escape," Hoffman said, then laughed. "It's much cheaper than a therapist.

"Regardless of the economy, people still need these outlets and creative ways of expressing themselves, especially when things are not quite so stable."

Hoffman, a painter for 25 years, has taught oil painting for two. She said her style is a blend of traditional techniques with modern use of color.

Oil painting is "a challenge," Hoffman said. "I like to teach people the how and why. I want to be able to teach them how to create on their own."

Six-week sessions (with one four-hour session per week) run $360 plus supplies. For more information call (813) 748-0277 or visit www.SandraTHoffman.com.

Five Guys in a few days

The new Five Guys Burgers and Fries downtown franchise is expected to open Tuesday on the ground floor of SkyPoint.

Bob Dorfman and his TCH Restaurant Group wanted to get its second Five Guys franchise open in time for the Super Bowl. The location at 777 N Ashley Drive will be open for lunch and dinner and will be one of only a few Five Guys restaurants serving beer.

Dorfman hopes the new location will take some pressure off his busy Five Guys at 3841 W Kennedy Blvd., which has faced a severe parking crunch since opening in late 2007. A third location planned for 4304 S Dale Mabry has been delayed because of renovations to the building.

Do you know something that should be everybody's business? Call 226-3394 or e-mail sharonlginn@yahoo.com.

>>Hot tip

Plant High state championship gear

You can show your love for Plant High by wearing specially made state championship gear. You'll find it at the Panthers' unofficial football headquarters, aka Louis Pappas' Market Café, 3409 W Bay to Bay Blvd. T-shirts cost $12, and hoodies are $26, both gray with the championship logo designed by Coach Robert Weiner on the front and all the players' names on the back. Adult and youth sizes available.

Also available: car magnets, Tervis tumblers, license plates and caps bearing the champs' logo. Polo shirts for men and women are special orders. Sales benefit Plant High athletics. Call 748-3456 for information.

Christian bookstore Saint Thomas Cafe closing after 13 years 01/22/09 [Last modified: Thursday, January 22, 2009 3:30am]
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