NEW PORT RICHEY — Sometimes an idea sprouts from an unlikely vantage, a serendipitous mishap that leads to a creative vision.
As Lisa Langford tells it, that’s the start of Lis’s Pieces, an artisan boutique on Grand Boulevard that she opened about a year ago and is in the midst of expanding.
While reaching for a power drill in her garage one day, she accidentally toppled a glass shelf that shattered into pieces and landed on the panes of an antique window.
Remarkably, the window was intact, Langford said. “I looked at it and just thought it looked so shiny and pretty."
She grabbed a mermaid plaque and set it among the glass and got to researching resin materials to make it set.
Her mermaid window soon was hanging on the wall. Friends were asking her to make more.
Maybe there was a future with this, Langford thought. She purchased 65 windows from two salvaged homes in Plant City to create more beach scenes using sand, glue, glass and a variety of trinkets and sea shells. She sold 54 of them on the patio at Pete’s Grand Central during the 2018 Chasco Fiesta.
“That was just in two weekends," she said. “I told my husband we had to open a shop,"
As it happened, Paul Langford had seen a “For Rent” sign in the old Boulevard Building, next to the Gateway Gallery and Emporium.
The couple and her sons, Cody and Tanner Bruce, worked to get the store open for the 2019 Chasco Fiesta. She recruited eight artisans to sell their wares in the shop for a monthly fee.
“The thought process was, how to keep the doors open when New Port Richey wasn’t quite thriving yet," Langford said. "We could give them an avenue to sell their art. They get the exposure, and it helps pay the overhead.”
Lis’s Pieces opened the day the 2019 Chasco Fiesta street parade rolled by, bringing in a stream of customers. Some were lured by the path of flamingo footprints Paul Langford chalked into the sidewalk from Sims Park to his wife’s storefront.
“I thought it was important to get our name out there when there were 30,000 people downtown,” Langford said. The store took in $1,000 the first day.
Inventory includes paintings, shabby chic furniture, soaps, hand and body creams, jewelry, funky sunglasses, greeting cards and hand-made children’s clothing.
“It’s a great place to buy something for someone who’s hard to buy for,” said frequent patron Sandy Russell of Port Richey. “There’s a lot to choose from, and she (Langford) is just so helpful in helping you find just the right thing.”
LaVerne Williams of Land O’ Lakes, who typically shows her work at art shows, has been selling paintings at Lis’s Pieces since the store opened.
“Shows are a lot of work, and I’d really been looking for a gallery. She just came around at the right time." she said. “I think it’s a hidden gem. It’s a breath of fresh air.”
Within three months of opening, Langford rented another 700 square feet to accommodate the inventory of roughly 30 artisans.
Now she’s moving upstairs.
Langford recently rented and remodeled a portion of the second floor. According to the West Pasco Historical Society, it was a meeting place for the Masons, the Order of the Eastern Star, the Knights of Pythias and the Pythian Sisters in the 1920s.
She uses the upper floor for one-night workshops. Attendees can bring a bottle of wine and snacks to munch on while they create a craft to bring home. Langford also plans to rent the space for small weddings and other intimate occasions.
“It’s amazing how she started with a little store and expanded,” said shabby chic artisan Diane Pullara. “Now, with the upstairs, the possibilities are endless.”
Langford said she added on based the city’s projected growth envisioned by former economic development director Mario Iezzoni and the new downtown businesses that opened during his tenure.
“I felt we were about a year too early from things taking off when we first started, but I didn’t want to lose out on the opportunity," she said. And the 2020 projected reopening of the fabled Hacienda Hotel and opening of The Central and The Landings apartments should attract more patrons downtown. Special events, such as an evening wine stroll, are a boon in the meantime.
Even so, the shop’s distance from Main Street and Sims Park, where most events are held, presents a hurdle, Langford said. Downtown tends to bustle come sundown for restaurants and bars. Not so much during the day.
“There’s not many businesses that are open seven days a week during normal biz hours," she said. "I hear it 10 times a day from customers who come in and say, ‘We’re glad you’re open.’
“’If I have to be an outlier, so be it. I’m just excited to be part of the revitalization of downtown.”