SOUTH TAMPA — Jennifer Dutkowsky has spent much of her life in western Massachusetts, where recycling is a reflex and shoppers go out of their way to search for organic, eco-friendly or all-natural products.
"People are very earthy, very crunchy," she said. "You can't go up there without experiencing the whole eco-friendly lifestyle."
She landed in Tampa after graduate school and has found it to be "a little bit behind" in that department.
After nearly two years of working as an analyst for a big company, Dutkowsky, 26, wanted to try working for herself. She opened green-themed Why Not Boutique, a women's clothing and gift shop, on Nov. 24 at 3217-A S MacDill Ave.
The store is in a trendy shopping area (the so-called Palma Ceia Business and Design District) and eco-friendliness is nothing if not of-the-moment. But Dutkowsky said it still has been scary to open a new store — even one furnished with "recycled" consignment items — during a severe economic downturn.
"I left a full-time job where I was getting paid," she said with a laugh. "If I can make it now and pay my bills now, I can pay my bills when the economy is going great. Cycles go up and down.
"My theory is that going green … is not always going to be trendy. It's going to be a way of life for people who choose to make it a way of life."
Dutkowsky believes strongly in that philosophy. The store's Web site (www.whynotboutique.com) features not just an online store but Dutkowsky's detailed blog with tips, trends and local recycling information.
She also stays in close contact with Amanda Brzozowski, owner of Silver Sage Organic Boutique at 2408 S MacDill. Dutkowsky said the stores offer different products but are constantly trading ideas and referring customers to each other.
"We're all fighting for the same thing — an eco-friendly, natural, organic lifestyle," Dutkowsky said.
Clothing is a focus at Why Not Boutique, with items ranging from a $19 T-shirt to a $100 blazer. The store also sells a Fair Trade certified jewelry line from World of Good, Burt's Bees products, Envirosak reusable bags, lunch boxes made of recycled materials, paper made of what is delicately referred to as elephant "poo," and other gift items.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 on Sunday.
Shops find new homes
Two more of the businesses evicted this fall from the Snow Avenue section of Old Hyde Park Village have reopened.
Children's boutique Precious Cargo and clothing retailer Zagora Premier Boutique were among those that had to make way for new, yet-to-be-announced retail stores. Precious Cargo owner Cristi McGann opened in International Plaza in mid-December after signing a six-month lease with the mall. She had hoped to move the store elsewhere in Hyde Park but "we couldn't come to an agreement," she said.
Zagora, meanwhile, has reopened in the Channelside Bay Plaza complex.
Design shop expands
It may seem unusual for a home furnishings and design shop to be expanding these days, but the owner of Andrea Lauren Interiors jumped at the chance to move to a bigger space last month for a little less rent.
The business, formerly in a hidden space on Kennedy Boulevard, is now in a visible storefront at 3006 W Swann Ave. Priscilla Castellano, who named her design shop after two granddaughters, said it has expanded from 1,800 square feet to 2,500, with a large drapery workroom on the second floor. The first floor is mostly retail, with lighting, furnishings and accessories.
Andrea Lauren is a full-service design shop that offers space planning, lighting consulting and window treatment design and carries furniture from lines such as Hooker and Century, Castellano said.
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