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Partners in inspiration

By ELIZABETH BETTENDORF
Published March 16, 2007


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It's no surprise that Jackie Sayles found a miracle.

A Realtor who also was a former stage actress and dancer in Britain, she turned her life story into a book, The Power of Present Day Parables.

So, two years ago when she was driving back from Bay Life Church in Brandon with real estate partner and kitchen designer Teresa Rogers, the two were struck with an idea:

New Tampa needed a good inspirational bookstore. It also needed an English tearoom.

And why not throw in a home-goods store where clients could browse throw pillows, artwork, furniture and ceramics after finger sandwiches and a pot of tea?

"And here it is exactly as we conceived it," Sayles said on a recent weekday morning.

Said Rogers: "It literally came to us as a fully formed idea."

They own Maggie's Tea Room and Miracles at 10335 Cross Creek Blvd. in the Cory Lake Professional Center. You can't miss it because of the chalkboard in front listing lunch specials and teas of the day.

At 60, Sayles is Mia Farrow pretty, delicate and slim, quick to recommend a good book and wearing an apron patterned with teapots and cups.

Maggie's tearoom and the accompanying Miracles store beckons visitors with its trellises twined with twinkling white lights, wall murals by Tampa artist Pam Parish, the cozy book nook and dozens of items for the home.

Guests can sit in tearoom chairs and at tables that are painted with the words "Miracles Happen."

Both women credit store employee Carole Stephens, who helps create the displays, for giving the store its charming appeal.

The decision to carry lots of items for the home was easy.

"We feel that, when people who are shopping for a gift for someone, really like to buy something for the home," Rogers said.

Sayles, a Realtor and real-estate broker since the early 1980s, runs the Miracles side of the business. Rogers runs the real estate side. They even call their real estate partnership, "The Miracles Team."

Outside, a garden seating area beneath a canvas and tulle tent invites quiet conversation amid home and patio supplies that include a pink mosaic-tile mailbox. There's even an herb garden - Sayles will cut and sell you a handful of dill.

The tearoom namesake is Maggie Monk, Sayles' best friend who died in 2006 from complications related to Lou Gehrig's disease. Sayles, who is English, met Monk while auditioning at a London theater and they became lifelong friends.

Sayles says she never pictured herself doing anything in the food business or opening a bookstore.

The decision to open a tearoom/home goods shop and bookstore was based on the business premise that one business might not survive alone but all three could bolster each other. Plus, a confluence of Sayles' miraculous luck - including an incredibly helpful landlord - cinched the decision to go forward with the idea.

When Sayles and Rogers opened Miracles and Maggie's Tea Room in 2005, Monk was well enough to travel to Tampa to "see it happen."

Jackie said she still feels the spirit of her late friend.

Maggie's namesake tearoom and its light lunch fare have proven an attraction to the business crowd in the New Tampa area, Sayles said.

The garden area is private enough for serious conversation and the indoor tearoom is perfect for parties. The shop, she said, tends to attract those who want to browse for gifts, pick up something for their home, or buy an inspirational book that will help with career or relationships.

Everything is for sale, she noted, down to the teapot-shaped salt and pepper shakers on the tables.

"It's a neat little place," she said.

Adds Rogers: "A giant leap of faith,"

Not to mention their very own miracle.

Elizabeth Bettendorf can be reached at ebettendorf@hotmail.com.

[Last modified March 15, 2007, 09:30:34]


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