Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Eve Eve

On the eve of Christmas Eve, we would like to thank all of our customers and neighbors that have come out to shop and share with us this season. In our unofficial poll of shoppers, we have seen people who are willing to shop around for things that mean something to them.

Fair trade is not so foreign a word this year, and hand-crafts are making a comeback. I love seeing people who are wrapping their presents in re-usable bags and giving local art as gifts. I really believe that if we take the time to shop around for things, we will spend more carefully and buy things we really need or love.

Christmas parties this year have taken on more meaning as people seem to really want to connect with friends and prop up each other in these tough times. This Christmas we want to take time to thank those that open their homes to us.

Last minute tips:
Alternative wrapping is the norm now - newspaper, aluminum foil, and paper shopping bags are all great alternatives.
Can't think of a gift for someone close? Burn a CD of your favorite tunes or songs that remind you of them. Music makes a nice gift that reflects your personality and doesn't involve big boxes and waste.

Friday, December 12, 2008

TSM at the WMNF Holiday Bazaar Saturday Dec. 13th

Just a quick note to remind everyone of the WMNF Holiday Bazaar and Record Sale tomorrow in Ybor at the Cuban Club. The weather report is sunny and cool! We will be set up outside with the food vendors and the music. Oh yeah! Live music! Not only do we get to commune with fellow WMNF lovers, we get to to listen some great bands.

According to the radio station's website:
10:00 AM Maggie Council
11:00 AM Juniper
11:40 AM Talk to Mark
12:20 PM Acho Brother
1:00 PM The Human Condition

Come out and support this great radio station, and get your Christmas shopping done in style. Where else can you shop to live music at one of the most beautiful historical buildings in Tampa? If you haven't been in the Cuban Club - do yourself a favor. Get down there. The tile work and those awesome stairway banisters are amazing! There will be tons of great records and books, music equipment, and artists and crafters. We will bring a few pieces of furniture for examples of our stuff, and lots of our fair trade ornaments and gift choices.

Hours are 10 to 5 - See you there!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Biggest Shopping Weekend of the Year

As the analysts tally their numbers and the big box stores sharpen their pencils, the holiday weekend was kicked off in our neighborhood with a sputter. Luckily I don't have to wonder if this last weekend was the biggest shopping weekend of the year for us. I know without a doubt that there will be better weekends to come. For one thing, we were closed. What? Closed? Didn't I just say this was the biggest shopping weekend of the year? If you weren't one of the many disappointed shoppers that visited us this weekend then let me catch you up. Our building is old. How old, nobody seems to really know that we've talked to. I will concede that old buildings have flaws and can occasionally let you down. That was clear on Friday, when we opened our doors to the flickering lights of an electrical problem. I had to use an extension cord to hook up our computer so that we could make a sale. When customers ask if you paid the light bill, nobody is laughing. Our landlord was incommunicado and the only shining light was our hero the helpful Teco electrician that offered me a flashlight while we diagnosed a nightmare of mixed up wiring. We made it through that in time to salvage the afternoon and have a pretty decent day. We have very patient customers! Then Saturday we arrived at our aging storefront to find a puddle of sorts on the floor... a very smelly puddle. After digging into the wall nearby in search of a source, I came to the realization that the water was coming up from the floor. We had not found a well, but noticed a sloppily patched piece of flooring with pinholes spewing water. My landlord of course did not want to pay weekend rates for a plumber, so I hastily volunteered to pound my way through the floor with a sledgehammer and locate the leak. What I found was some sort of old "soaker" tank according to the plumber that I met on Monday - two days later. I would like to imagine that if Target had a leak, they would have a plumber there about two seconds later, but the little guy is stuck there with a sledgehammer in his hand. Amazingly, no furniture was damaged, as we caught it early and moved everything out of the way. So eventually they fixed it, and now the leak has moved. It is now leaking in the store next door. The plumber will have to come back and dig again! We are still open, but I think we have solved the mystery of why no other businesses could make this spot work. How many mornings do you come in to a smelly puddle on the floor and a landlord that says it is your problem to deal with? Again, thanks for all your patience!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Changing our Christmas

While I haven't heard Elvis croon "I'll hahahave a bluuuue Christmas..." yet this season, I know that the clock is ticking. I watched the big box stores swap their layouts almost as soon as the last trick-or-treater had stepped off the porch. I'm just hoping that more of them will be singing the praises of a "green" Christmas this year.

What, you ask, would that actually mean?

Well here's my wish list:
1. Don't Buy at All (i.e. Make)
2. Buy Green
3. Buy Fair Trade

First off, let's get the first complaint about green retail out of the way - You can't buy your way out of our environmental situation! This is true, I agree, but, BUT, understand that we as a nation of consumers have been cruising along with little concern for what our purchases actually mean for way too long. People of course can just not buy anything, non-consumption is a very green thing to do. Not an easy thing, but definitely if you take a year off from Christmas you are doing a positive thing for your carbon footprint. Instead of buying something, you can also make your gifts. Give photos you've taken, or if you are crafty, paint some pottery or create something from re-used materials. If you aren't so crafty or strapped for time - donate in your loved one's name at OXFAM or at one of our many needy charities like Metropolitan Ministries.

However, If you are going to buy, then buy green. I encourage us all to consider how powerful a decision we wield this time a year. We get to buy, make, invent, paint, whatever we want for those close to us as an expression of our care for them and as a reflection of our values only once a year. So before we all just take the year off, let's consider that. If I buy my little brother a shirt, he might wear it. If I buy him an organic shirt, he might change how he thinks about organics and buy one for himself. This is how grassroots change works - one little step at a time.

Besides just buying green, there also many wonderful fair trade options for gifts. If I buy my mom a necklace from the mall she will certainly like it (or pretend to for my benefit), but what if I buy one from a fair trade artisan? Then she can know that whether she wears the necklace or not, the money for it went to help those that really need it and they were paid fairly for it!

Ask those that have you on their list to give something handmade this year or to donate a gift in your name to your favorite charity. The holidays are a great chance to show those we love that we can make a difference. Instead of crowding the tree with gadgets that will eventually crowd the landfill, let's push a little wave of hope out into the universe when we gather this year.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Green Gifts

Are you thinking about your Christmas list yet? If so, think about giving green, sustainable and/or fair trade this year. There is a new study about the ice caps melting at an alarming rate, and in these economic conditions we need to think a little more before we buy. Please see the comment below from the scientists at NOAA:
The Arctic ice cap is melting faster than scientists had expected and will shrink 40 percent by 2050 in most regions, with grim consequences for polar bears, walruses and other marine animals, according to government researchers.

There is something that you and I can do--give the gifts that give back. Green gifts are out there and green no longer means expensive. We have quite a few green gifts that are not only affordable, but attractive and stylish.

One of my favorite things we have is Aster and Sage--a company that is making personal accessories made from recycled plastic bottles--really! They make purses, pillows, small ipod/camera bags and much more!

New ornaments are always appropriate for the host/hostess of the local holiday party. Make sure that they are green and/or fair trade. These ornaments are beautiful hand-
made items sold through Ten Thousand Villages. From carved birds to newspaper angels (repurposed newsprint) you can find your perfect new bauble for the tree!
There are many new green items on the market that you can feel good about giving this year. Also stop by Tampa Street Market to see more green gift ideas and shop local!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Shopping Local

Charles and I have lived in OSH for almost 4 years! We have lived in many different places through the years, including overseas, and some of those places were more beautiful, more pedestrian friendly, and I could go on, but no other place has afforded us the friendships we have made in Seminole Heights! The people in OSH are nice, welcoming and down right friendly. It is almost like stepping back in time, a kinder gentler place, where warm baked pies are delivered to your door. Although no pies have found their way to my door, many cupcakes and bottles of wine have crossed the threshold!
OK--enough of the mushy stuff!
Getting to the point, I live in Seminole Heights and I own a business here. I love the neighborhood and do everything I can to support it. I try and shop in the neighborhood. Buying local is a green ideal that I love supporting. I like the idea of knowing the owner and being recognized when I come in . On the other side of the counter, I like seeing my neighbors and friends walk into my shop. It is a CHEERS kind of place where everyone should know your name. I know Karen and Keith at Karen's Place, Adrian and Emily at Seminole Heights Antiques, All the girls at Nickos Diner, Elizabeth at Bungalow Bistro and Forever Beautiful, Scooter at Cappy's and all the wait and cook staff, Chris at Sign Art Group, Eric from Eric Krause Designs, Sherry and Robert at Sherry's Yesterdaze, Anthony at Vivant House...and I could go on!!
Unfortunately, Steff @ Tampa Antiquarian Books is leaving SH--we will miss her! Also Mike from Merino's has closed his doors and Barbara from Silver Linings is saying goodbye and closing her doors. I will miss going to all of these places and the drive home will look a little different with vacant buildings as scenery. The better our businesses do, the better our market. Keeping local businesses afloat keeps your local market from depreciating even more.
I would love to see all of you more, but I am asking everyone to think about the businesses in the neighborhood next time you go out. Lets keep our local economy healthy and green!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Our New Space

Exposed brick wall, high ceilings, concrete floors--this place really fits us.
As you can see in the picture, we still carry steel top tables and wood and steel benches, but we also added new lines of eco-friendly and sustainable gifts and home decor. We have pillows and personal accessories made from recycled water bottles, stainless steel cold beverage bottles, garden art made from steel and repurposed items, elephant dung paper products, eco-greeting cards and holiday cards and graphic bags that fit in your pocket for ease of use! Our telephone wire baskets are going like crazy and are all fair trade!
We have had a lot of our customers come back and it is really great to see everyone. We love having the business back in Seminole Heights and we look forward to growing our business here!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Rumor Mill

So, there is some movement on our oh so delayed plans to move the shop from our old and cramped location on Florida Ave. We tried all we could to move into one of those big warehouses in Ybor - no a/c and no parking, and we tried to get a rehab down in Tampa Heights but the owners are still not budging on their rents. After all the shopping and leasing and introspection we finally listened to one of our good friends and shopping buddies, Karen the owner of Karen's Place on Florida and Osborne. She carved out a little corner of her shop so that we could hang a shingle and continue to move some of our product instead of just store all of that cool stuff we had amassed. We love Karen, but we knew that we still wanted our own place so we decided to wait a while... A while didn't wait for us though and after a little over a month in there, Karen's landlord was getting curious about filling his recently vacated cafe spot on the corner. This spot had been lots of different restaurants, some good, some not so good, but all for some reason or another couldn't make that spot work. It is small for a restaurant with tall ceilings and not much parking. The parking all goes to the antique stores and the residents of the building who are not so bothered by the smallish back parking lot. Anyway, we looked at the spot and it had some pros and cons as they all do. It was about the right size at around 1200 sq ft. It had tall ceilings that we liked and they were starting to expose brick on the outer wall of the place. A lot of the old windows had been painted over and most of the place was filthy with a bathroom straight out of one of those Saw movies. There was exposed wiring left from the last restaurant and the typical coating of grease on the walls of the kitchen area. Probably one of the biggest problems we had with this place was the fact that the parking was in the back and you had to walk all the way to the front sidewalk and face the Florida Ave traffic to get in - unlike the antique stores which all had back door entries. All that being said, it looks like it is going to happen! We are cleaning and painting and they are even adding a pass through door from the nearest neighboring antique store to encourage cross-browsing! We are looking forward to having Adrian and Karen as neighbors, but mostly we are excited that we are able to keep our original neighbors - Seminole Heights. All of the people that supported us in our first location will only need to drive two more blocks to visit the new spot. We are doing all we can to make this more convenient and even better than the first Tampa Street Market. Keep an eye out for an opening in the next few months...

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Moving, buy why?

We came to a very hard decision over the last few weeks that we would have to move out of our Florida Ave location. I have been asked more times than I can count, why? We had lots of reasons for leaving and for staying. We live in Seminole Heights, within walking distance of the shop. On the other hand, our customers were from all over the bay and often asked for a more convenient location. While we are talking about convenience, that takes us to the parking problem. As those who frequented our shop and Cappy's know, there is not an abundance of parking at the shop. Often customers would become frustrated when looking for a space and pass by without returning. Our parking problem had very little to do with Cappy's and much more to do with the other residents and workers in our building who would park directly in front of our shop on a daily basis. Also, anyone that asked us knew there was no bathroom in our unit and in order to reach one in the building they had to trek through another renter's unit and down a hallway that looked like something out of a horror movie. Seminole Heights has very little retail space and when we calculated our square footage - 740 and took our rent we found we were paying a little more than $20 per sqft. That is the going rate for retail space in a newly renovated space downtown. I hope that this helps everyone understand our reasons for looking for a new space. Since we were doing well and gaining customers it was very difficult to move. We just couldn't justify paying rent in that spot another month, so we are very close to signing the papers on a new spot. We hoped to expand in our location, but that was not possible because of the constraints of the building. We have scoured Seminole Heights for a new spot, but suitable retail spots are just not available or tied to owners that have very little interest in market rates, much less accomodating emerging businesses. We know that more spaces will be developed in the future, but we also know that our neighborhood will be in transition for years to come. The new place, wherever it is, should have everything you've asked for - easier to find, better parking, and more room for great stuff! Please bear with us and know that we are fully committed to making this transition as smooth and quick as possible. We are going virtual until then, so just drop us an email and watch our website for updates.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Growing Pains

Here's where the blog really becomes helpful as therapy. Please understand. We finally measured our little retail space and it is reaalllly little. Try 640 square feet of actual retail space! Seriously! I don't even know how we've paid the rent, but we are ready to stretch out a little bit. Our reviews have been good, but I see that look on customer's faces that says, "This is all there is?" With furniture, we feel like we need a little more space to have some variety and hold people's attention. We have scoured our little neighborhood for suitable retail spaces (try it sometime, unless you are selling used cars, it will take about 3 minutes.) We asked the landlord for more space and that wasn't a short order either based on the other tenants needs and the possibility of moving walls and doing major construction. We haven't decided yet, but we are nearing a decision. If you see anything around 1500 sq ft and 12 bucks a square foot per year please drop by - preferably in the heights. We love our neighborhood and hate a commute. Maybe I will have to talk to the mayor about the lack of suitable retail here. I kind of doubt she will be interested in our little problems up here in the heights. We want to keep Tampa a welcome place for indy business - shop local folks - it does make a difference. As for the shuffling of our square footage, we'll keep you posted.