Haute couture, kid style

Published July 28, 2006

Jennifer Tishler can't get enough of the latest fashions. Her idea of having fun while on a business trip somewhere faraway has always been to pop into the trendiest boutiques she could find.

Having children did nothing to change that; she just started looking for clothes in smaller sizes.

If Tishler wasn't a slave to fashion before, she is now. Her new children's clothing boutique, Giggle Box Couture, is set to open in late August at the former site of Valerie Nicole Boutique, 3211 W Bay to Bay Blvd., which closed in June.

Tishler said she finds that a lot of the children's offerings in Tampa are overly conservative and classic. She loves to dress her two little girls, especially the older one, in trendy clothes known as "California casual" and has had to resort to shopping in bigger cities or online to find such apparel.

"A lot of these clothes for adults they have for kids, but nobody knows about them here. If I wasn't such a shopaholic, I wouldn't know either," Tishler said, laughing.

Giggle Box will carry lines for boys and girls, infants through about size 10. Tishler will devote about 400 square feet of the shop to an enclosed play area with toys and a place to color. For parents too busy to browse, Giggle Box will offer a personal shopping service.

"We're really trying to cater to the parents and the kids," she said. "The parents can shop and (kids) can have a good time in a safe, friendly environment."

The boutique will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.

BYE BYE BOUTIQUE: Valerie Nicole Boutique, a high-end couture source for many Tampa Bay socialites, closed last month following a moving sale and has not reopened in another location.

Smith & Associates broker Kevin Platt said he had been working with owner Valerie Cunningham on finding a new, smaller shop where Cunningham could work mostly by appointment, but no contracts were signed. Cunningham could not be reached for comment. Her Web site, www.ValerieNicole.com, remains active and is selling a line of sportswear featuring Christian messages.

SIT 'N SIP: Angela Stalikas was planning to leave Tampa for life in a bigger city. But when she heard that a friend was closing his Davis Islands coffee shop, she figured that a good opportunity might be right around the corner.

Stalikas has taken over the former site of the Grounds, which closed in April. She plans to open an organic, more upscale version in the space at 304 E Davis Blvd. during the first week of August.

The venture comes a year after Stalikas moved back to Tampa from Philadelphia and quickly found herself missing the urban lifestyle.

"I figured instead of just saying I wished (Tampa) had it, I would try to create it," she said.

The coffee shop, called Sip, will feature organic coffees and teas, smoothies and a juice bar.

She will also offer healthy baked goods, including some vegan selections. Eventually, she plans to offer evening hours with a small selection of wines and beer.

The space is about 1,500 square feet and will include plenty of seating, good music and art.

"I want to make it an environment where adults can come together over a good glass of wine or a good cup of coffee and talk to people they might not normally meet," Stalikas said.

Sip will initially be open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Once she is able to serve beer and wine, Stalikas said, the shop will remain open 5 p.m. to midnight Thursdays through Saturdays.

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