PALMA CEIA — Four new shops have popped up in the past few weeks on the 4200 block of Bay to Bay Boulevard, just east of Manhattan Avenue. All are owned or operated by women hoping to turn a creative vision into a successful business. They range from a 400-square-foot jewelry and accessory spot to a 1,600-square-foot consignment store.
Fans of the original Art Tarts boutique will be happy to hear that artisan Suzanne Wightman is back in business. Art Tart Jewelry opened in February, smaller but still showcasing Wightman's handcrafted pieces.
"It's great being back; I really missed it," Wightman said. From 2004 to 2009, Wightman turned her art into a full-time retail business in South Tampa. Besides her one-of-a-kind earrings, necklaces and bracelets, often featuring semiprecious stones and freshwater pearls, she is known for her custom designs and repair work.
"That's what sets me apart from others,'' she said.
The store also carries other handmade jewelry and trendy hats, handbags, scarves, accessories and gifts.
Mindy Fisher, meanwhile, is opening Bay to Bay Marketplace, along with her boyfriend Robert Griffin and kitchen designer Carole Sikora.
The idea came on a six-day trip from San Francisco, driving a box truck full of furniture and accessories from a relative's home in Sonoma, Fisher said. Somewhere along the way, the couple decided to open a consignment store to sell the stuff, plus men's and women's clothing, in the building owned by Griffin's family. Works of local artists and craftsmen will also be featured.
"Eclectic would be the word,'' Fisher said, describing the shop that used to house a doctor's office.
The name, she adds, has more significance than just the street where it is located.
"We drove from San Francisco Bay to Tampa Bay, and Carole is originally from the Chesapeake Bay area of Maryland.
"Bay to Bay really fits."
A few steps away on Bay to Bay is Fay's Home & Garden.
"Pretty furnishings at practical prices," that's Fay Johns' business plan and passion.
The new shop is at least her sixth Tampa location selling the estate sale and flea market furniture and accessories that catch her discerning eye.
"I actually opened the first "juntique" store in South Tampa 17 years ago," Johns said. "Now there are an abundance of them."
Longtime customers will remember to be careful not to step on Henry, her Jack Russell terrier. The dog is likely to be curled up under a wrought-iron patio set or wicker settee. "Everybody knows Henry,'' said Johns.
Finally, there's Rehab, which opens this weekend. The idea is for people to bring in clothing, accessories, handbags and jewelry to be exchanged for cash or store credit.
But besides resale, Rehab offers redesigns. Take, for example, that purple dress with shoulder pads and peplum that has been hanging in the back of the closet forever. It might be tagged and hung to sell.
Or cut up, reworked and sewn back together for a new look.
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