Giggle Box Couture closes Bay to Bay store

PALMA CEIA — Giggle Box Couture, the upscale kids clothing shop that opened in 2006, is closing at the end of this month — but not because it hasn't been a success.

Owner Jennifer Tishler, who has a marketing background, said she was offered an unspecified opportunity that was "too good to pass up."

She had offers from people who wanted to buy the store at 3211 W Bay to Bay Blvd., she said, but could not bring herself to give up the Giggle Box name.

"I chose not to sell because I wanted to keep the brand," Tishler said. "It's a successful brand, a successful store. I wasn't ready to stay goodbye completely."

If what she is calling only a "personal career risk" doesn't work out, she wants to be able to open another location. In the meantime, she will open a 200-square-foot Giggle Box Outlet at the Pink Cabana at 14361 N Dale Mabry Highway, which she will stock with her favorite brands offered late in the season for lower prices.

Everything at the Bay to Bay store is being offered at 50 to 75 percent off. Tishler said recently that much has already sold out.

Staci Brum, the owner of Kooky Kidz — a gift and handmade clothing shop that has shared space in Giggle Box for about a year — is "contemplating" opening her own location in a smaller space, Tishler said.

Homewares boutique won't renew lease

Giggle Box is not the only area boutique shutting down this month. After three years running their tabletop and home store, Cazou owners Laura Whitley and Carol Schultz have decided not to renew their lease.

They will close down the store at 2307 S Dale Mabry Highway, Suite F, in the coming weeks. Whitley said they will take the summer off and consider whether to look for a new location or even open an online store.

"We laugh in hindsight," Whitley said. "We couldn't have picked a worse three years to try to open our business. It's just hard to get momentum going. People's spending habits have changed."

And that change, Whitley believes, is so significant that she and Schultz don't want to commit to a new lease and then wait for consumer spending to bounce back.

"We love doing our store, we've met a lot of great people," she said. "It was a wonderful experience overall. I'm certainly glad we did it. We hope to … kind of reinvent and come back in the fall."

In the meantime, everything in the store, including display pieces, has been discounted. Further discounts will continue weekly until Cazou closes at the end of May or early June.

Animal charity opens thrift store

A Tampa charity that raises funds for small rescue groups is opening a South Tampa thrift store this month.

The nonprofit Animal Based Charities supports 50 local animal rescue groups that give aid to cats, a variety of dog breeds and even smaller animals like squirrels. The charity hosted an adoption event at the University of South Florida Sun Dome in February and adopted out 500 animals in five hours, said Rick Medina, a spokesman for the organization.

The group has already planned a second event at the Sun Dome for September. But it needs funds for this and future events, Medina said, hence the decision to open a thrift store.

Donations of all kinds are being accepted for the store, which is located at 4342 S Manhattan Ave. Call (813) 380-5674 for more information or visit the organization's website at animalbasedcharities.org.

"We're going to let the public kind of dictate the hours," Medina said. A grand opening event is scheduled for May 21.

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

Giggle Box Couture closes Bay to Bay store 05/20/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 19, 2010 5:25pm]

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