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Woman's labor brings a baby and a business

The grand opening of Linda Davis' children's clothing shop comes the same day she gives birth to her third child.

By WAVENEY ANN MOORE

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 30, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- Between Beach Drive Papery and Bernie's & Son Fashion Jewelers, a new store has taken root.

Arrayed in a whimsy of frills and flowers, buttons and bows, the children's clothing and gift shop had its grand opening July 18.

Owner Linda Davis was nowhere in sight.

That very morning, Mrs. Davis, who for the past three months had labored to get the business ready for its debut, was in Bayfront Medical Center giving birth to her third child, Emma.

A week later, the newborn lay quietly near the cash register as her mother showed off the aptly named Buttons n' Bows at 152 Beach Drive NE.

"I like unique things," Mrs. Davis said, walking around the boutique.

The Pinellas Point resident explained that in the past she had found it difficult to find uncommon toys and clothing for her older children, Matthew, 31/2, and Amanda, who celebrated her second birthday three days before her sister was born. "Everybody else I talked to seemed to have the same complaint," Mrs. Davis said.

That will change, she hopes, with the arrival of Buttons n' Bows.

But a little more than a week ago, Mrs. Davis did not have business on her mind. The baby, due July 23, was disregarding the calendar.

"She wasn't supposed to come till Sunday," Mrs. Davis said. "The other two were not early."

Nevertheless, Emma sent her mother into labor around 5 a.m. the day Buttons n' Bows was to open. Not to be outdone, Mrs. Davis proceeded according to plan and went into her store.

"I had to drop off the cash register," she said.

As she was leaving the shop for the hospital, her partner, Norma Siniscalchi, was heading in.

That was about 9:30 a.m. Emma was born 21/2 hours later.

Mrs. Davis, who left the hospital a day later, said she refused to fret about the business.

"I wasn't worried at all," she said, explaining that she was buoyed by the support of her husband, Dr. Larry Davis, a pathologist at Bayfront, and Ms. Siniscalchi's expertise.

Besides the official opening, the shop owner also missed the next day's annual Beach Drive Sunrise Sale, around which the store's launch had been planned. More fortuitously, her 1,500-square-foot store missed the worst of that week's flooding that damaged neighboring Beach Drive businesses.

"We did get some water on the floor, but not any major damage. We were very lucky. I feel very lucky," Mrs. Davis said.

Late last week, except for the lack of a sign, Buttons n' Bows looked right at home at its prime Beach Drive location.

Its windows, framed with blue, red, yellow and green striped fabric tied in place with jaunty bows, gave a peek at big belly wooden banks, stuffed toys, slouching Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls, pint-sized clothes on tiny hangers, and two dainty white stools bearing the names of Mrs. Davis' young daughters.

Space has been set aside for a toddler-friendly fitting room and a cozy play area, and the store carries bedding for cribs, picture frames, jewelry, accessories, books and lollipops.

So intent was Mrs. Davis on acquiring the right mix of merchandise for her store, her most recent out-of-state shopping expedition was just one week before Emma's birth.

A medical technologist by profession, the new entrepreneur was head of the Bayfront laboratory when she met her husband. Since her marriage, she has taken classes at USF to earn a master's degree in business.

Mrs. Davis said the idea of opening a children's store had been germinating for a while.

"I had two small children and I really had a hard time finding things that I liked. They don't have anything in St. Petersburg," she said. "A lot of my friends say they go to Hyde Park."

In April, three months before her delivery date, she discovered the Beach Drive storefront.

"It's a timing thing. . . . I just said, I'm going to do it."

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