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Nicholson House is now two businesses run by siblings

SOUTH TAMPA — In her 16 years as owner of Nicholson House, Beth Purcell not only catered to shoppers looking for something fun, unusual or handcrafted, she managed to pass along her passion for retailing to two of her four children.

Daughter Missy was co-owner during Nicholson House's many incarnations, from Clearwater to Orlando to Hyde Park Village to International Plaza. At one point son Charlie moved down from Atlanta to help grow and manage the business.

Now Nicholson House, which closed its last store in 2008, officially has been divided.

Missy gets the jewelry side. Charlie gets most everything else — including the Nicholson House name.

"It was difficult for us to work together," Missy Purcell said with a laugh. "We're both kind of stubborn. If you've ever worked with your family …"

Last month Missy opened a jewelry boutique, Sparkles Plenty, in a 768-square-foot space in Bayshore Plaza, 3215 S MacDill Ave.

The store specializes in handcrafted, mid-priced jewelry that she said is especially well-suited for special occasions. Most items sell for between $80 and $250, with pieces selling for as high as $500.

She also offers a jewelry and handbag rental program for customers who may need an important piece for only a week or so.

Charlie Purcell, meanwhile, has been running Green Fish Greetings in Whaley's Plaza at 533 S Howard Ave. By mid-June, Green Fish should be ready to move to a bigger space two doors down and officially become Nicholson House. He will double in size to 1,200 square feet and add traditional Nicholson House offerings, such as crafts and housewares, and small furniture items to his current lineup of greeting cards, papers and small gifts.

"People have been excited when they find out" about the revamp, Charlie Purcell said.

Beth Purcell has more or less retired, her children say, but she often helps out in each of their stores. (They don't mind sharing.)

The siblings have faced challenges in recent months.

Nicholson House closed in International Plaza early last year after high rental costs made the business unsustainable, Missy said. She decided to open a similar store called Green Fish Gallery in downtown St. Petersburg, across from the struggling BayWalk retail center.

It wasn't long before "I knew there was no way I was going to make it there," she said. "I decided to cut my losses, downsize and do something different." She closed that store in early April and opened Sparkles Plenty in South Tampa a few weeks later.

About the same time Missy set up shop as Green Fish Gallery, Charlie opened Green Fish Greetings in Hyde Park Village, where Nicholson House had a store from 1994 to 2006. But his store was one of several evicted from Hyde Park last fall to make way for a group of unspecified new tenants that have yet to move in.

He reopened in Whaley's Plaza just in time for Christmas. Ongoing renovations at the plaza gave him the opportunity to plan for expansion.

The new Nicholson House will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, Charlie Purcell said, and possibly later on some nights.

Hours at Sparkles Plenty are noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The store's Web site is

Do you know something that should be everybody's business? Call (813) 226-3394 or e-mail

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Amy Scherzer

Nicholson House is now two businesses run by siblings 05/21/09 [Last modified: Thursday, May 21, 2009 4:30am]
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