The first time Sandy Oldenburger walked into the Emporium last fall, she "fell in love." Newly moved from Pasco County to Belleair, she began buying new furnishings for her home — a hand-painted, solid wood dresser and end table for the bedroom and chairs and printed rugs for the patio. Her shopping excursions continue to this day, said Oldenburger, who works for a cardiology group at Morton Plant Hospital. "I stop by every Friday to see what's new."
Rooms inside the 3,500-square-foot building display handmade tables, bars, mirrors, lamps, soaps, wire and metal sculptures, as well as new, vintage and antique furniture, gifts and candles. Prices range from $2.95 for greeting cards to an antique, painted European armoire at $1,500.
A gallery room features the brilliantly colored abstract acrylic paintings of Pinellas artists Caren Katzenburg, Lynne Parrish and Sandy Snider.
The store's bathroom features "stall art" that changes monthly.
Freelance photographer Bridget Burke of Safety Harbor, whose photos of the store are featured on its website at theemporiumlargo.com, has been shopping at the Emporium for a year. "The inventory is constantly changing," she said. "That's what I love about it."
When the building was vacated a year ago July, Darra Kollios of Clearwater took it over and became an equal partner in the business with Cindy Kleinhans of Island Estates.
Two and half years ago, Kollios had leased the property adjacent to the building as a landscaping and garden décor business from Kleinhans and her husband, Don, who have owned both the property and the building for about 15 years. Plans are for the outside to become a full-scale nursery.
Today, customers can meander through an acre arranged with a variety of used garden furniture, some plants and colorful pottery. Outdoor wall art features the florals and landscapes of St. Petersburg artist Betsi Burgess painted on pressed cement board and the glittering tree jewelry of Susan Sears of Largo.
Several months ago, Thayer and Cody Haydon of Belleair hired Kollios to landscape the back yard of their Florida bungalow-style home.
A plan was designed and the work was completed in May.
"It's exactly what we wanted," said Thayer Haydon.
The project, he said, divided the yard into a play area for their 16-month-old son and an area where the couple can relax in the evenings or entertain. "It looks amazing," he said.