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By ELIZABETH BETTENDORF, Front Porch
Published November 9, 2007
I admit it: I'm an HGTV junkie. Unrestrained, I believe I am capable of watching the decorating network nonstop for days without ever leaving the comfort-nest of my family room sofa.
Though I've never watched HGTV for more than, say, four hours in a single stretch, it is my guiltiest pleasure, my very own home-decorating soap opera, with its stars, character and walk-ons plotting to find the perfect house to be decorated, fixed up or sold.
Val Harding, who, along with her husband, David, owns Val's Basket Warehouse in Carrollwood, is also a huge HGTV fan. So when she needed a competitive boost for her family-owned business - her big competitors are Michaels, Jo-Ann Fabric and HomeGoods - she finagled a visit from an HGTV star.
On Saturday, the Hardings will host Matt Fox and Shari Hiller, hosts of Room by Room. The Spot Marketing, an Ybor ad agency, helped arrange the event.
"It's definitely the biggest thing we've ever done," Val says. "I can't wait. I've watched their show on TV for the last five or six years."
Fox and Hiller, whose collective motto is "real people, real rooms, real decorating," will offer a free seminar beginning at 11 a.m. on decorating your home for the holidays.
After the presentation, they will sign books and meet shoppers. Val has rented a "big, white wedding-size tent" for the event and 150 chairs, though she's now thinking more people may show.
"I think people really like learning about how to decorate for the holidays because they like to have a warm and cozy place where they can really entertain family," says Val, who's hosting Thanksgiving for her own clan. She sets a big table with a beautiful centerpiece.
The Hardings have owned Val's for 19 years, a family business they started before the mega chains ruled. If you love to decorate, you've probably roamed the store's aisles and browsed the silk trees, floral arrangements, Mexican pottery, ceramics and home decor items, including stuff for every holiday.
The store, on Gunn Highway, draws customers mostly from Carrollwood and North Tampa, though Val says the store attracts a fair number of people from South Tampa because of the easy access from Dale Mabry.
Right now, Val's sparkles with holiday decorations, including hard-to-find Thanksgiving knickknacks as well as loads of Christmas stuff including a forest of decked-out holidays trees.
"Most people go straight from Halloween to decorating for Christmas," Val says.
Do we Floridians go a little crazier for the holidays than the rest of the country because we don't have seasons to put us in the mood?
On this subject, Val grows a little circumspect.
"My husband and I grew up in Florida, and we probably wouldn't know what to do if we saw an orange leaf," she says. "We just enjoy decorating."
She's hoping a little of that HGTV magic will rub off on her customers.
"Matt and Shari are going to stroll around afterward talking with customers," she says happily. "They're going to have all kinds of really creative tips and ideas."
Kind of beats four hours of TV watching - even back-to-back home decorating shows.
Elizabeth Bettendorf can be reached at email@example.com.
Matt Fox and Shari Hiller, hosts of HGTV's Room by Room, will give a seminar on decorating your home for the holidays Saturday at 11 a.m. at Val's Basket Warehouse, 3920 Gunn Highway. The free seminar is open to the public.
[Last modified November 8, 2007, 06:34:18]