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By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 15, 2001
LARGO -- During the past 66 years, the quaint wood house on Indian Rocks Road in Largo has been a home, an art gallery and a medical-supply business.
Now, with a new owner, an exterior freshly painted white with blue trim and the grounds planted with flowers and outdoor art, the house has been transformed into a country cottage showcasing elegant gifts and silk florals. Behind the house, another business has opened in a former playhouse.
After two years in Belleair Bluffs, Julie Papalardo has moved her popular business, Julie's Cottage at Provence, to the 1,800-square-foot house -- a space four times larger than her previous location.
"We had definitely outgrown our space in Belleair Bluffs, so I started looking around for a place," said Mrs. Papalardo, who specializes in custom silk florals. "I didn't intend to buy, but a friend told me I should take a look at this place that was for sale. When I drove up, I could see the potential through the weeds and dead trees for a great little cottage."
Shaded by oaks, the house sits on a little more than a half-acre. A second 800-square-foot building behind it originally was built in 1940 as a child's playhouse.
After purchasing the property for $172,000, renovations and cleanup work began.
"We had four dump truck loads of limbs and old bushes," said the Pensacola native, who moved to Florida 20 years ago and lives in Seminole. For $10,000, the two buildings also got new roofs and new electrical wiring.
Inspired by the French Provence region, Mrs. Papalardo has decorated the entry room of the cottage with antique cupboards, sideboards and farm tables displaying kitchen linens; ceramic and decorative roosters; cottage lamps; baskets; pillows; pictures; hand-painted furniture; books on herbs of Provence and the Illustrated Cottage tale inspired by Provence; gourmet party dips and mixes; creme brulee mixes; salsas; pasta salads; cookies; cheese straws; and bright-green cucumber and red tomato candles in jars.
The front of the shop includes an area that will change with the season and that features baskets of pastel spring silk flowers, galvanized French flower buckets with daisies, hydrangeas and roses and spring flower wreaths. Another section features a safari motif with animal prints, palms and orchids, spiced candles and botanical arrangements set against black and kahaki furniture.
California's Napa Valley inspired the northern end of the front room with its assorted ivy and grapes decor, wine bottle stoppers, hand-painted wine glasses and linens and cabernet-scented candles and potpourri.
The back garden room is filled with white and green artificial flowers and herbs, whitewashed furniture and birdhouses, chandeliers and distressed-iron accessories, garden angels, metal baskets, candles with flower fragrances and whimsical garden art.
A short walk leads to the home's former playhouse, now the Parchment Cottage, a new business specializing in fine stationery, cards, gifts, vintage linens, handmade jewelry and personalized printing services.
Suzanne Bourdeau and Mary Margaret Joswig, businesswomen and friends for about 16 years, are partners in the endeavor. Mrs. Bourdeau has had a wallpapering business, Bearwalls, for 11 years, and Mrs. Joswig just retired from the family business, Joswig Construction.
The idea for the business came from her customers, Mrs. Bourdeau said.
"I'm in people's homes all the time, and I would hear them say, 'We need a paper store in our area,' " she said. "So I went to see Mary Margaret one day and said, 'I have a great business. Let's do it.' "
The business became reality when Mrs. Bourdeau's longtime friend Mrs. Papalardo told her about the little place they could rent. They painted furniture and the floors of the shop's two rooms with bright colors and designs and landscaped the outside with flowers and plants. The women, who both live in Largo, invested between $25,000 and $30,000 to start the business.
Both businesses at 13128 Indian Rocks Road are open Monday through Saturday. Call Julie's at 517-8102 and Parchment at 595-8770.
The first Small Business Information Resource Center at a Tampa Bay area library is to open Wednesday at the Tarpon Springs Library. The center was made possible by a $70,000 federal Library Services and Technology grant and includes the hiring of a full-time business librarian, Salvatore Miranda.
Resources include business directories, a computer work station, a magazine database, Hoover's Company Data Online, an assortment of business start-up handbooks and other business-related materials. New resources are to be added throughout the year.
"We will be able to help business people with a wide variety of topics," Miranda said. "Whether it's helping to construct a model business plan or providing a list of all the pharmaceutical manufacturing companies in the state."
The program is partners with the Small Business Center at the University of South Florida, local economic-development efforts, Tarpon Springs and the Greater Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce. The library is at 138 East Lemon St. Call 943-4922.
Camille Reyes has been hired as marketing manager at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. She will be responsible for creating and implementing marketing plans for the performing art facility's events and main stage presentations.
She is a senior marketing coordinator with Accenture and will begin working March 19 in her new position. Her experience includes being director of marketing for the American Stage, the Bay area's oldest professional theater.
Events at Ruth Eckerd Hall generate an average of $6-million in annual ticket revenue. The Performing Arts Center and Theater presents more than 100 artists a year and has been ranked fourth in the nation for attendance in theaters of similar size.
Dr. Woody Brown, a Pinellas County native and Largo High graduate, has joined the staff of East Bay Accident & Wellness Center, 800 East Bay Drive, Largo. He has a biology degree from the University of Central Florida and a doctorate of chiropractic from Life University in Atlanta. Last summer, he worked with a missionary group in Cuzco, Peru.
A combined luncheon meeting of the Greater Clearwater Association of Realtors and the Greater Tampa Association of Realtors International real estate councils is planned for 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 22 at the Tampa association headquarters, 2918 West Kennedy Blvd.
Tony Macaluso, National Association of Realtors International member Advocate of the Year in 1997, will talk about various international real estate issues. Cost is $10 for council members and $12 for non-members. Reservations can be made by March 19 by contacting Mike Mayo at (727) 533-8833, ext. 204, or Michael@tampabayrealtor.com.
- News of businesses and business people can be faxed to the Business Digest at 445-4119 or mailed to Business Digest, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. We are interested in new and unusual businesses, promotions, expansions and major new contracts. Photos can be sent, but not all will be used, and they cannot be returned.