It's been a fantastic year for us in the Tampa Bay area. Below are the stores, parks, restaurants, and other local treasures that have made it all possible.
Stores and Businesses:
Charities, Museums, and Public Resources:
Thank you everyone! Happy New Year!
Sleeperwoods is a unique gift shop selling a variety arts and crafts made on the continent of Africa. Named after railroad ties (called sleeping wood in South Africa), it specializes in custom furniture made from them. From the Sleeperwood shop one can order custom cabinets, tables, chairs, bars, beds, stairs, wineholders, or mantles, among other things. It also carries in store beautiful African sculptures, carvings, musical instruments, clothing, jewelry, painted ostrich eggs, and even monkey balls. These are citrus fruits the monkeys throw away that are then decorated with resin. Started by Ken and Carol in 2010, it has two locations: one in Saint Petersburg and one in Dunedin. The stores keep them busy and are a lot of fun. Stop in sometime, meet their dogs, and hear how they went from selling Czech glassware to African art.
Buying from Sleeperwoods helps people and helps the planet. Through Sleeperwoods Ken and Carol support a large network of businesses and non-profits that supply them with merchandise. The bags they buy from a company in Africa that hires those infected with HIV, which would otherwise have difficulty finding employment over there. The money raised from selling bags in turn supports a local orphanage. The hazelnut-cranberry chocolate bars are made by a cooperative in Ghana that protects the small cocoa farmers from large companies. Many of the products are made from recycled materials such as the telephone wire baskets and the paper beads. The paper is tightly rolled, cut it into beads, and then glazed. The furniture is made from old railroad ties so that more living trees need not be cut down.
10-6th street north, St. Petersburg, Florida
720 Broadway, Dunedin, Florida
The Wee Boutique in Apollo Beach has for sale everything child-related covering newborns through tweens and even maternity needs. One can easily find unique toys, books, clothing, bibs, and cribs. There are even strollers, picture frames, and dance outfits. The store features both new and used items, some made by local mothers. Circus performers and animals cover the walls, giving the place the friendly boutique feel that they strive for.
Owner Mandy Cassiano builds her business around saving her customers time, saving her customers money, and helping the planet. Much of her product is on consignment, allowing her to keep her prices competitive. When customers’ children outgrow their clothes, toys, and books, customers can return them to the store and split the profit when they sell, in essence saving even more money. Anything not sold is donated to the Hillsborough County Family Partnership Alliance, a local organization that serves foster families. Buying used products instead of new ones keeps them out of the landfill longer and helps the planet.
Mandy did not originally intend to open a store – she wanted to teach art – but three years ago she found herself taking her inheritance money and starting a business. In the time since, the boutique has doubled in size, added a small play nook, thrown mom-parties, and she has regretted nothing. Helping parents and children is what she does now.
6122 N US41, Apollo Beach, Florida
Dance At Grand Jete is a dance studio in Apollo Beach owned by sisters Amanda and Aysza. Every class is taught by one of the sisters themselves and they offer classes for anyone male or female between 18 months and 18 years of age. There are classes covering the dance styles of jazz, contemporary, lyrical, ballet, and hip-hop, as well as classes for toddlers and classes for those with special needs. The academic year runs from August to June, ending in a recital.
Aysza has been dancing since soon after learning to walk and shows no signs of stopping. She graduated from the Lehigh Valley Charter School for the Performing Arts, creating choreography pieces while there. She has attended many dance conventions and performed in many venues.
Now having moved to Florida, they’ve opened Dance at Grand Jete in Apollo Beach near the Harbour Isles development off US 41. They continue to spread confidence, fun, and dancing skills to the children in the community.
5475N US41, Apollo Beach, Florida
LOCAL TAMPA BAY