Monday, July 16, 2018
Business

Downtown Brooksville's House of Passage 'not your mama's store'

BROOKSVILLE — At House of Passage, old lumber and pressed tin ceilings have passed into new life as a beautifully rustic cupboard/armoire, a well-chocked carpenter's bench into a high-gloss library table, a swirling bunch of budded aspen branches into an artful chandelier.

The downtown shop, featuring "a unique collection of new, old and repurposed furnishings" as well as "found objects," celebrates its fifth anniversary this month.

The eclectic and en pointe tastes of owners Ann and Craig Borgialli have established a repeat clientele that knows if the shop doesn't have just what they want, they're sure to find a more-stunning-than-expected alternative.

Jewelry and furniture are best-sellers.

"I just try to find things I'm attracted to," said Ann, the primary buyer of shop stock. "I have no background in this," added the retired business manager of her father's construction firm. "I just know what I like."

Her likes, she has discovered, mesh with those of customers for high-end jewelry, handmade leather and brass handbags, Florida Cracker replica signs, heroic-sized foam florals and Mason-jarred jams and jellies, as well as the furnishings among which to showcase or subtly note them.

"We're not your mama's store," Ann said with an all-around gesture.

A third-generation Brooksvillian, Ann is devoted to giving local fine artisans their due. Represented are museum-quality woodworker James Lee, painter-printmaker Dean Rusk, soapmakers Simply Caprice and Finchberry, cottage jam maker Teresa Hill and Southwestern-style jewelers LeGrand Designers.

Craig Borgialli is the furniture finder. A native Wyoming rancher, he brings a Wild West and rustic mind-set to the shop, currently in demand by millennials and descendants of farmers.

"The young, newly married don't want all that matching furniture," Ann said. "They want something painted, distressed, some kind of character or uniqueness they know they're not going to find anywhere else."

The couple makes two trips annually to Wyoming, where they have a second home and from which they make forays in search of countrified and homespun furnishings to fineries. A Billings, Mont., friend always has ready for them a piece of furniture he concocts from once-used lumber, scavenged hardware, rusted tin or other rough-hewn whatnots.

Outdoorsman Craig calls on more of his ilk to enlarge the shop's repertoire with polished deer antlers, animal-skin rugs and artful decor featuring wildlife and range livestock, while Ann gleans Western jewelry and leftovers from last-era dressmaker emporiums.

Craig has become an artisan himself, crafting hanging light fixtures from mid-mountain aspen branches that defy chandelier nomenclature but are every bit as dazzling as their brass and glass cousins. The latter also are available.

About 75 percent of the shop's customers are repeat buyers from surrounding counties and as far away as St. Petersburg. Most have learned of House of Passage by word of mouth. The shop also spreads its word on Facebook and Instagram.

Said Ann: "We try to have a variety and mixture that will apply to all ages. I think that's what makes us a success — that blend, like leather and lace."

Contact Beth Gray at [email protected]

 
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