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Neighborhood report

Palma Ceia: Antique business packs up and moves

Sherry's Yesterdaze Vintage Clothing and Antiques starts fresh at a more affordable location: Seminole Heights.

By MICHAEL CANNING
Published February 13, 2004

It's like losing to your kid brother.

Palma Ceia has lost a merchant to a less expensive version of itself - Seminole Heights. Sherry's Yesterdaze Vintage Clothing and Antiques has moved to 5207 N Florida Ave.

"I feel like I'm getting a new base of customers and keeping my old ones," said owner Sherry King.

Despite King's exodus, the 1925 building at 1908 S MacDill Ave. remains an antique mall. Audrie Ranon, once a Yesterdaze vendor, and Ron Giovanelli have taken over the business, which reopened Sunday as Late Bloomer's Treasures and Collectibles.

Like Palma Ceia, Seminole Heights has many historic houses and brick streets. It doesn't, however, have South Tampa's location or its lustrous commercial base.

Seminole Heights' residential gentrification started in the late 1980s, about 10 years after many of South Tampa's older neighborhoods. And while it boasts two historic district designations and several hundred restored homes, Seminole Heights' commercial gentrification has lagged behind.

Its main thoroughfares - Nebraska, Florida and Hillsborough avenues - are dominated by used car lots, auto repair shops, motels and pawnshops. Drug dealing and prostitution are common.

But it's these factors that help make Seminole Heights a more affordable historic zone than those of South Tampa.

"It got kind of expensive there," said King, referring to the property taxes at her MacDill location, which opened six years ago.

That spot, near the Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club, is part of a commercial corridor heavily populated with antique shops and boutiques geared toward South Tampa's affluent.

Being in South Tampa's unofficial antique row wasn't all that advantageous, said King, 53. Despite the abundance of similar businesses, antique merchants on MacDill Avenue and nearby Bay to Bay Boulevard weren't well-organized, she said. "Shop hop" events didn't increase business at her store.

King feels optimistic about Seminole Heights. "The synergy's different here," she said. "People are more community-minded."

Merchants have warmly welcomed her.

"We're glad to have her," said Milton LaVoie, owner of Now and Again II antique shop at nearby 4713 N Florida Ave. "I think she probably has a pretty good customer base from South Tampa that might start coming up here."

Ashley Warner, owner of Ashley's on the Avenue gift shop at 4709 N Florida Ave., said, "I think it's a very positive thing that someone, especially from the South Tampa area, would relocate here."

Warner and LaVoie are part of a fledgling group of businesses that have opened on Florida Avenue within the past few years to serve Seminole Heights residents. Others include an art gallery, day spa, ice cream shop, gym and a few restaurants.

King hopes some of the merchants will participate with her in group advertising. She also wants to create a brochure with locator map, similar to the one produced by her former merchants' group, the South Tampa Antique Dealers Association.

"My customers are always asking if there's a restaurant nearby. Rather than just direct them, it's always nice to give them a brochure," said King, who this summer moved her residence to Seminole Heights from Palma Ceia.

She believes it was a good move.

"I feel like I'm on the threshold of a boom," she said.

[Last modified February 12, 2004, 12:51:07]

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