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‘Tis the Season for One of Each Gifts

15 Dec

One of Each Gifts in historic 5 Points

The moment you step inside One of Each Gifts, you know the holiday shopping season is in full swing. A large decorated Christmas tree greets you and an entire back wall is dedicated to a wide range of sparkling holiday ornaments. The sweet scents of scented-reed diffusers and Tyler candles fill the air while soft music plays in the background. Owner Jonathan Brown is already cheerfully helping several customers as one shopper browses jewelry racks while another checks out his holiday cards and stationery offerings. A third customer asks him for free gift-wrapping of her purchases of Thymes fine English soaps and lotions for later pick-up. The smiling, dynamic owner clearly enjoys working with his customers and retail gifts are in his blood as his mother ran another local gift shop for years. Mr. Brown notes that his mother, who recently turned 89, just retired after providing years of “good insight on buying for the shop” and serving as the store’s premier gift wrapper.

The busy gift boutique has been in operation for about 8½ years, with an initial shop at the corner of Park and King Streets. Mr. Brown’s successful venture outgrew that space and he moved his store to Five Points about four years ago. As an Avondale resident, he wanted to keep his shop close to home and likes the “village environment of Five Points, which is more like an old-fashioned downtown with lots of foot traffic” and where friendly neighborhood shop owners help each other out. Many years ago, his feisty mother once chained herself along with others across May Street to block the bulldozing of brick cobblestones to help the area retain some of its historic charm.

Jonathan Brown, owner, One of Each Gifts

The Jacksonville native previously ran another retail store and restaurant before opening his own gift shop because he felt “there was an unmet need in the neighborhood.” With a wealth of business experience, Mr. Brown advises new entrepreneurs “to keep it simple” and “follow your bliss” in deciding what business to start. He warns enthusiastic new owners “not to spread themselves too thin” but to add on later as your business progresses. He also thinks it’s important to “have fun and have a good sense of humor, and laugh it off or else go nutty.”

In this challenging economy, the retailer thinks his “value-oriented gifts” which offer good quality items at reasonable prices will bring in shoppers. This season, he has found that people are buying lots of holiday ornaments and scented candles for friends and co-workers, especially scented “Diva” candle jars. Costume jewelry has also been a very popular gift choice. As the weather begins to cool down, colorful Pashmina scarves and shawls are also in demand. For men, he has seen decorative golf balls and humorous novelty gums becoming favorite stocking stuffers. After the holiday season, he advises bargain-hunters to watch for those after-Christmas sales as his shop regularly turns over its stock and décor to suit every season and major holiday.

So stop by One of Each Gifts, 1026 Park Street, 904-389-9360, right next to the new SunRay Cinema at the Five Points Theatre, with “gifts so unique you’ll want one of each!”

Tom’s Shoes and Seasonal Twists at OLIVE in San Marco

22 Feb

Certainly if you are a female shopper in San Marco you’ve explored Olive.  As shops or boutiques go, this is a store that one definitely explores.

That’s because Olive carries all sorts of great things, from lovely clothing, to a large selection of unique and on-trend accessories, to fine lingerie; a diverse selection of things for the home…yours, or somebody else’s.  Whether you need a gift or are just shopping, it’s hard to go into Olive and leave there empty-handed.  There is so much to look at.  If you can restrain yourself from buying this lovely thing, or that, Olive is a great place for browsing.  (Browsing is fine, of course, but we want to support our merchants, not just admire them!)

Items for spring are everywhere in Olive now.  Along with the brighter colors in clothing that spring evokes, Olive has brought in Tom’s Shoes as a new line.

Tom's are known the world over for confort and consciousness.

Do you know about Tom’s?  First of all, Tom’s are cool and comfortable shoes, that are both in the moment and styled eco-friendly.  Not only are they stylish and comfy, but Tom’s Shoes is a for-profit company that donates one pair of shoes for every pair bought, to a child in need, in another country, elsewhere.  And now you can pick up your own pair from your own San Marco distributor of Tom’s, Olive!

Baubles and bangles of all sorts await you.

Olive’s accessories selection is vast, and alluring. The trendiest bracelets and earrings, lovely necklaces; everything a woman could want to, because there is an accessory piece to fit with whatever style she prefers.

Olive has created an inviting space, a home-like interior, as their selection of home accessories are artfully arranged to catch your eye and make you feel like you’re browsing in a really cool house. Every great design item (the perfect place to pick up wedding, bridal shower,or hostess gift, too) can leave with you and grace your home.

Housewares & home decor are new additions to the offerings at Olive.

Owner Heather Wingard is off to New York next week, to order the latest in Fall fashion for Olive. She stays ahead of the trends, always watching the fashion horizon for clothing that suits the stylish Jacksonville shopper. At the end of New York Fashion Week, it’s ‘market time’, when buyers from the best shops everywhere arrive in New York to order their selection for the next season’s offerings. But now, Olive is fresh and bright with spring offerings, and Heather tells us that coral is going to feature strong in spring colors this season.

With the weather warming and the daylight hours lengthening, everyone’s ready for spring. So pop into Olive for burst of spring.

Clothing and accessories at Olive, with a twist!

And don’t forget: Olive is the place for Tom’s Shoes, now, too!

~Contributed by Jeannie Greenwald of mysanmarco.com.

A Little Downtown History and Future-Perdue Office Interiors

7 Feb

Perdue Office Interiors, today

The landscape of downtown Jacksonville is changing. With many projects ongoing or upcoming to change the face of downtown, the resurgence is near. Perdue Office Interiors, a fixture in Jacksonville since 1916, was determined to help revitalize the business community downtown and relocated in 2009 to the corner of Main and Forsyth Street.

Woolworth, 1910

Betty Maid, 1950s

Originally located off of Bay Street, Perdue opened its doors in 1916 and remained downtown before relocating to the Southside over 20 years ago. That same year, Woolworth’s opened up their “five and dime” store several blocks away at Forsyth and Main. For years, that intersection was the central core of a thriving downtown community. Over the years, the Woolworth building was home to many businesses, including a Betty Maid retail store in the 1950’s, and remained at the center of one of downtown’s most pedestrian friendly areas.  After American Heritage Life left in the 1990’s, the building remained vacant for 10 years.

Perdue has a reputation for looking forward, and that view was long term. Downtown was ultimately the place to be, especially with the highly concentrated office space and no office furniture dealers downtown. Clients or customers that might never make it downtown would now have a reason to make the trip. That year, Perdue decided on the Woolworth building and began renovations. With such a historic building, a modern interior seemed an interesting juxtaposition. The space would serve as a “working showroom”, allowing customers to see the furniture being sold in use. An open, loft style feel was created and conceptualized, and Perdue moved in to the space in late October, 2009. A new, modern logo, eye-catching signage,  and shortening of the name “Perdue Office Interiors” to “Perdue, Inc.” followed suit.

Today, back in the area where the company first began, Perdue is a downtown fixture and is helping to revive a once thriving corner of Jacksonville. In addition to client meetings, holiday parties, and architecture and design events, Perdue is an Art Walk venue. A local artist is given a showroom wall, which is changed every month, with Art Walk being an opportunity to showcase local talent.

-Melissa Carvalho

Photos: Ken McCray

Woodside Lane: Reclaiming Local Treasure

4 Feb

Woodside Lane in the San Marco Square

If you haven’t yet made a stop into Woodside Lane Grainmill Art, a storefront on the Square for about six months, it’s well worth your time for a look-see.  With so much commitment to ‘going local’ here in San Marco and the greater Jacksonville area, Woodside Lane’s beautifully handcrafted tables couldn’t be more ‘local’.

Kevin Byrnes, a master craftsman with more than thirty years of experience and owner of Woodside Lane, obtained reclaimed wood from an old Jacksonville grain mill on West Beaver Street.    The mill was built in the 1940s of longleaf pine, and was being demolished.  When Kevin saw the old, heavy, solid wooden mill, he knew at once it was constructed from a virgin stand of longleaf pine.  Longleaf pine is from the Southeast, and these virgin stands were of trees that were over 100 years old.  Mature longleaf pine gives a beautiful grain, texture, and resin that’s hard to find in today’s pines, because now they’re harvested much earlier in their life span.  They simply do not display  the full and hearty texture that the wood from older pines yielded.

Enter Kevin Byrnes and the imminent demolition of the old mill.  The mill was a massive fortress that processed corn, serving the dairy industry in the northeast Florida region.  When the dairy industry died, so did the need for the grain. The property changed hands, and finally, the mill was scheduled to be torn down.  The artist in him desired to obtain as much of that wood as he could, knowing he could create things of beauty from it.  And so he did.

He loves that this wood has story; the nail marks and dents,  texture and resin from its days as a Jacksonville grain mill.  He loves that this wood is strong: it processed heavy grain, daily, for decades.  He loves that this wood is locally sourced. And he loves to refinish this wood with his own hands, creating custom tables for families who appreciate a table with history, and who’ll imbue it then, with history of their own.

These tables are beautifully displayed inside Woodside Lane, on the Square, next to the San Marco Movie Theatre.  Kevin greets customers there, and helps them to design the table that’s just right for their home, their family.  The textures and markings of the wood are  beautifully rendered, after Kevin has prepared them for final construction. Customers understand that the distressed appearance comes from the fact the this is reclaimed wood and not artificially “distressed” in a factory somewhere else.  This is local; authentic.  A local grain mill’s mighty and beautiful wood is in the masterful hands of a local craftsman, who is now making tables of beauty for local families.

When you come into the shop you’ll envision one of these tables in your home.  They are artfully presented; the store has a gallery-like vibe.

A Woodside Lane table featured on the Taverna patio.

You may work directly with Kevin to create a custom table, or purchase one  he already finished; the store has several to choose from today.

San Marco’s Taverna restaurant has one of Kevin’s reclaimed wood tables, and it’s part of their  covered, outdoor dining area.  If you’d like to know what it feels like to gather around such a table, hit Taverna and ask for seating at the long, rectangular table just outside the restaurant window. Their heat lamps will warm you if it’s a chilly evening. You really can’t go wrong.  A great meal from a great local restaurant, served atop a hand-crafted table from locally reclaimed wood.

Gallery table display

Then go on down the street to Woodside Lane, and talk with Kevin Byrnes about his creating something of beauty for you.

Let’s not keep this local treasure a secret. Pass the word to people you know who appreciate things like reclaimed wood and local history and meaning in their homes. Nearly every design magazine features interiors that contain such unique pieces as part of a home’s furnishings.  This is just too great a story not to be shared!

~Jeanne Greenwald

The Green Alligator: Fighting for your child’s soul in the toy aisle

28 Jan

If you’ve wandered the toy aisles at Target or Wal-Mart recently, it’s hard not to wonder where all the real toys have gone.

Aside from the occasional Slinky or Lego set, the shelves are dominated by long rows of products that are more movie tie-in than toy, and less about encouraging self-expression and curiosity than about getting kids to see themselves as a stereotype (present choices limited to fashionista, girly girl princess, skater dude, or revenge-crazed warrior). Whatever space isn’t given over to scowling BRATZ dolls or tiara-clad pampered pooches is assigned to overpriced “interactive” electronic toys that bleep, light up, talk in digitized voices, and make endlessly repetitive motions that we’re pretty sure encourage sensory overload and/or OCD.

That’s why a classic toy store like The Green Alligator is so refreshing.  As the store’s own website affirms, this super high-service shop is full of “carefully selected, well-made, safe products that capture the imagination, encourage growth, teach important concepts, and most of all, offer endless hours of fun.”

Owner Sandi White; photo credit: Jacksonville.com

The Avondale store is a pocket-sized toy Utopia, with expansive display windows, cheery green-striped awnings and a life-sized Playmobil toy pirate standing sentinel at the door. There’s a “Please Touch” vibe that encourages kids to tool around on the awesome Plasma Cars, take balls out to the sidewalk for a test bounce, and ask questions about which chemistry kit makes the best green slime. The selection is thoughtful and beautifully displayed, with toys that encourage active play,  as well as arts and crafts projects, puppets, puzzles and brain teasers, science and construction kits, musical toys, cute critter and Ugly Dolls, and even old-fashioned baby dolls (you know, the ones that look like real babies as opposed to future Hooters waitresses).

The GreenAlligator staff really knows their stock, too; they keep their fingers on the pulse of what’s popular with kids of all ages and offer excellent advice on which toys are appropriate for various age groups. Even better, neighborhood children are invited to make wish lists, which the store keeps on file to help harried parents trying to buy those last-minute birthday party gifts. (Note to moms: All purchases go into cute Green Alligator bags that are stuffed with brightly colored paper and tied with curly ribbon, eliminating the need for giftwrap when you’re already running late.)

photo credit: The Green Alligator

In a toy world that’s clearly lost its marbles (anyone think Pole-dancing Polly is even remotely appropriate?!?), it’s nice to know that places like The Green Alligator can resist the Disney marketing juggernaut and still flourish. If you’re looking for toys that encourage kids to learn new ideas, learn how to share, and just plain learn how to focus, then this charming store has exactly what you need.

The Green Alligator is located right next to the Brick Restaurant, at 3581 St. Johns Avenue in the Shoppes of Avondale. (A second store is now open in Ponte Vedra, at 330 North A1A.)

Burro Bags: Sewing success in downtown J-ville

25 Jan

If necessity is the mother of invention, then its father is creativity.

Sewing the next Burro Bag

A case in point is Burro Bags, a three-year-old downtown business built on its founders’ search for a durable bag that could withstand their daily bicycle commute between Springfield and UNF. Drawing on their respective skills (upholsterer and bike messenger/mechanic), Chris Williams and buddy Matt Bort experimented with a variety of materials, ultimately constructing a prototype messenger bag from re-purposed highway billboard vinyl. (The story of how Burro Bags got started is charmingly told in this video.)

The choice of material wasn’t made lightly: the vinyl’s strength and flexibility was one consideration; another was that the stuff would otherwise end up in a landfill (the company’s informal motto is, “Keeping retired billboards off the street by putting them on your back”). Happily, this decision to go green came with an unexpected bonus: When highway billboards and old street banners (advertising, say, the Florida-Georgia game) are snipped, folded and sewn, the result is strikingly graphic and unexpectedly chic.

This marriage of sustainability, style and urban biker Street Cred struck a chord with their friends, who soon started requesting bags of their own. As the orders began pouring in, Williams and Bort realized they had a viable business model that had outgrown their living room-based operation. After losing the lease on their first production facility in Springfield (next to Shantytown Pub), Williams worked with Downtown Vision and its Off the Grid program to secure space in the funky Letter Shop building on Forsyth Street (just up from the corner at Newnan Street).

Beer koozies with local pride

The location houses not only the Burro Bag production and fulfillment facility, but also a small retail shop that showcases the full line of Burro products, from trendy messenger bags, backpacks, hip-bags and wallets, to bike pedal straps, cute illustrated beer Koozies, and edgy screen-printed T-shirts. (Although billboard vinyl is still used to add accent and graphic interest to the product line, most of the bags are now constructed of indestructible military-grade Cordura.)

Home-grown style

The store’s graffiti-painted walls (by graphic artist Shaun Thurston) provide a striking backdrop for the work of other local brands, too. Burro carries Threat Wizard, Tact, Arturo, Faction Habit, Granny Machine and more, making the retail store a must-stop shop for anyone interested in buying handmade items crafted by local artisans using recycled materials. This is also the place to inquire about Burro’s limited-edition Artist Series bags and their fabulous one-off items (recent products include a custom Burro drumstick bag and a totally stylin’ arm sling.) A final inducement to visit (as if you need one!) is the terrific old-school music that pumps throughout the space; because Burro Bags shares its retail location with Budget Records (the urban core’s go-to place for vintage 12-inch vinyl and hard-to-find LPs), you’re in for a sonic as well as visual treat.

Three years after its founding, Burro Bags has definitely grown up. Bag prices can range as high as $250 (although you can still score a quality, limited-feature model they call the Broke Ass bag). Orders come from as far away as California, and Japanese distributors have expressed an interest in bringing Burro Bags to Asia. Fully 90% of the company’s sales come from online and wholesale orders. The Burrow Bag story has even gained coverage on a popular National Public Radio show. But despite its impressive growth, the founders of Burro Bags have kept their feet firmly planted on the ground.

These are small business owners who strive to source all of their materials domestically. They support the local bicycle community and are a perennial presence at the First Wednesday Art Walk. They’ve established their center of operations, not in some distant suburb, but right in the heart of Jacksonville’s urban core. Just like the animal for which the company is named, the folks at Burro Bags are doggedly productive and endearingly loyal, proving that Going Local is not only stylish, but also pays huge dividends to the larger community.

part of Shaun Thurston's mural

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