When customers walk through the doors into Domain Home Accessories, owner Michael Knettel tells them to look around not once but three times. According to him it takes that much exploring to fully take in all that's on the store's walls — and ceiling, shelves, armoires, doors and floors.
He should know. After all, he was just another avid customer of the store who, after hearing the owner was thinking of selling it, became the new proprietor literally overnight by writing him a check that same day. Knettel, an architect contractor, knew nothing of retail except that he didn't want the essence of the store, an art gallery filled with functional home décor pieces, to be lost.
Today Domain sells the work of 123 American artists, 71 from the Tampa Bay area. From colorful fan pulls made with sea glass ($15) to one-of-a-kind bottle openers ($30) and unique handmade chandeliers ($150), the store is a collection of artistic renditions of everyday items. The goal is to get original art pieces into people's homes that can be bought for the same affordable price as replicas or prints bought at a chain store.
Some of the artists are scouted from art shows, others just walk in after hearing about the store. One of the benefits of being located in the artistic community of Gulfport, where there's a monthly showcase of independent artists and a constant stream of locals and tourists looking for unique pieces, is that word travels fast. As a result, so has Domain. After 11 years in business, the store has expanded three times, with the latest update adding a gallery featuring bigger pieces such as sculptures and furniture.
Even so, Knettel has kept the store's essence, being able to give customers a backstory on each one of the pieces on the walls, doors, shelves and armoires of the store.
— Natalia Galbetti is a freelance writer and director of sales and marketing at k.hendrix in St. Petersburg. Follow her on Twitter at @NatiGalbetti.