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Around the Bay

By Times Staff
Published May 14, 2007


Brooksville

Used medical equipment store fills niche

Grandma has passed on. What to do with her walker, her power chair, her hospital bed? Buddy's broken foot mended quickly. What to do with his barely used crutches? The answers are at Medical Thrift & Consignment, 689 S Broad St., opened recently by Vanessa Guy. The 39-year-old is a former medical assistant in a physician's office and has worked in a retail store selling durable medical equipment. "Other stores have new (goods) but there's still a need, because not everybody could afford it, " she said. Thus, she sought to provide an outlet for no-longer-needed equipment to benefit consigners and those in need. "I'm not here to compete; I'm here to help, " Guy said. The shop stocks lift chairs, potty chairs, shower benches, hand rails for bathtubs, and toilets and shower bars. Walkers with sit-down accommodation, at $139, are a hot item, Guy says. Models with more options range to $199. "Consigners price (the items) themselves, " Guy said. "I guide them to realistic figures." She prices other items according to condition, and she looks at catalogs for new equipment costs, which she says she reduces at least 50 percent.

New Port Richey

Her dream fulfilled, just not as imagined

Denise Gajus always dreamed of owning a business. But she never really knew if she'd do it or not. Then her son, Ward, decided to be a chef and she got her chance. But it wasn't in the food industry. Ward had always been crazy about comic books. In 1999 and using his own collection as a base, he opened his own store, Colossal Comics, in a gritty strip mall so close to U.S. 19 a passer-by could probably spit out his window and hit the shop's front door. Ward's dad - Denise's husband - ran a truck-rental business in the office next door, so it was a family strip mall. Ward worked like crazy getting the store together and running - but just as it was opened, his heart changed its tune. He wanted to be a chef after all. That was his true calling - not comic books. So he left to seek his culinary fortune. His mother, Denise, said it would be a shame to close the comic book shop, after Ward worked so hard on it. So she decided that this was her chance, her opportunity to do something she had always dreamed but doubted she would. She became the owner. So what if she knew nothing about comics. "I love it, " Denise said.

St. Petersburg

This doctor is always in, but for a fee

Growing up in rural North Carolina, Jon Hemstreet remembers people thanking his veterinarian father for the time he spent with their animals. So when Hemstreet became a medical doctor, he wanted his patients to feel he cared. "This is a personal medical practice, " said Hemstreet, who in March opened HometownMD at 2300 First Ave. N. "We sell availability." Hemstreet's practice is one of a small but growing niche in which patients pay a fee to have 24-hour access to the doctor, who will even go to them for appointments. Sometimes called concierge or membership medicine, the practice is designed for fewer patients and more time for each. "The time frame with the patient is getting smaller and smaller, " said Hemstreet, who accepts insurance and charges regular fees along with a membership price of $500 to $1, 500 a year. "The fee enables me to cover my operating expenses with fewer patients so I can spend as much time with you as you need."