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Secrets of the Sea aquarium researches possible locations


Aquarium plans haven't all gone dry

Secrets of the Sea aquarium has hit a major roadblock, but it is not derailed. The former Pier Aquarium lost its lease in John's Pass Village because of delays in financing the buildout of the facility. Opening dates projected for December 2012 and Nov. 12, 2013, have come and gone.

The homeless aquarium, however, has several viable options for a location, according to CEO Howard Rutherford.

"After the announcement (of the lost lease) we received an outpouring of support for potential options," he said. "But it's all kind of premature to talk about right now."

Rutherford said a decision will be made within three or four months. The nonprofit group is conducting due diligence on various locations. Some could be ready in the short term, others further out.

Monetary donations and pledges from current donors are still in place. All nine beach hotels that pledged money based on their size when Secrets of the Sea was slated for John's Pass are still on board, he added.

Clearwater residents' recent vote of support for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium doesn't hurt Secrets of the Seas' opportunities to also open a new facility in Pinellas County, Rutherford said. The Secrets concept is based on educating visitors about marine research, which is not a focus at the Clearwater or Tampa aquariums.

"We are excited for (the vote that allows) them to move forward toward building a larger facility for Winter," Rutherford said. "We feel that all boats will rise with the tide."


Inventory gets Zazoo'd at chic new boutique

Zazoo'd, a new store that combines diverse styles of decor, furniture and bedding, recently opened at 531 Central Ave. Co-owner Jodie King describes the merchandise as "coastal chic meets vintage industrial."

That translates to anything from colorful needlepoint pillows with whale designs to a rusted anchor wall hook. There are vintage metal beach shovels painted with stripes for $19, boxes of wooden matches decorated with crabs for $4.50 and a doghouse that looks like a barn, complete with hayloft and split rail fence, for $250.

King and her partner, David Fisher, look for items they can enhance with a personal touch. They paint wooden rolling pins in pastel colors or distress a new wooden dresser with a faded turquoise blue.

"That's what it means to get Zazoo'd," King said.

She's a former flight attendant and he is a vice president with Darden, which operates restaurants such as Olive Garden and Seasons 52. They are neighbors at Sunset Beach who decided to embrace their creative and business sides by opening the store together.

The store itself is a conversation piece. The checkout counter is made from weathered wooden doors. Old riding helmets and fireman hats are shades for hanging lights. And, if you like their taste, they also offer interior design services and event decorating.

Nominate a top beach business

The Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce is accepting nominations for this year's top businesses. Categories include nonprofit, women- or minority-owned, small business (1-20 employees), medium business (21-100 employees), and large business (100 or more employees).

To nominate, complete the application located at and fax to (727) 360-2233 or email to

Nominators must be a member of the chamber and submit by Dec. 6.

Katherine Snow Smith, Times staff writer

Secrets of the Sea aquarium researches possible locations 11/19/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 3:00pm]
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