PLANT CITY — Perhaps the moment of truth came last Christmas when KeeLee Tomlinson was sitting atop Roxanne Fulwood's refrigerator for the better part of an hour trying to arrange decorations in just the right way.
Or maybe it was when the duo designed a peacock tree topper and matching 80-inch skirt complete with real feathers, ruffles and three fabrics.
Whatever the project, the Plant City friends knew that after a few years of decorating Fulwood's home, it was time to bring their interior decorating skills mainstream. So they left their jobs at the Strawberry Festival and opened SASSI (Stylish and Simply Stunning Interiors) Oct. 28 at 314 S Collins St. in Plant City.
Their store is in the former home of Knotts Hardware, a Plant City landmark for 78 years. During their first site inspection of the rustic 5,000 square foot building, they noticed hints of Christmas from extension cords to trees and knew this was the right home for their dream shop.
"We both love Christmas," said Tomlinson, 26. "The Lord's definitely blessed us. We are more than just a holiday store. We tried hard to stay unique to us."
While Christmastime cheer is the anchor of the boutique and will be present year-round, SASSI aims to help homeowners decorate for every major holiday as well as everyday life.
Your Christmas shopping list can include ornaments for less than $10, a bubble light set that grandma had 60 years ago ($18.88) and even a 7-foot tall, realistic Santa Claus for $2,000.
Home furnishings also dot the store including jewelry, Milkhouse candles and Cashmere Bath soaps where you can plant the label and get bonus scents — flowers.
"We have been very busy," said Fulwood, 47. "We enjoy decorating. It's not run of the mill; it really is different."
SASSI also offer services such as gift wrapping and in-home holiday decorating. Tomlinson, who holds an MBA in marketing from USF in lieu of formal interior design education, says every design is a challenge. And they all remind her of decorating with her family growing up in Plant City.
"It's just the Christmas spirit," she said. "We don't get winter here."
SASSI is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Call (813) 704-6896 for questions or in-home design quotes.
Estela's, the Village shutter their doors
A pair of longtime Brandon area restaurants have hung closed signs on their doors.
Estela's Mexican Restaurant, operating for more than 15 years at 312 E Brandon Blvd., has a handwritten sign that says, "Thanks everyone for your support for all these years. We are closed for renovation. We will open as soon as the job is done."
The Village Restaurant, a breakfast and burger joint catering to locals for decades in Seffner at 512 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., hung a sign that simply reads, "Sorry we're closed." The phone number is out of service.
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