Saturday, November 8, 2008

Second-hand stores a better stop for knick-knacks

It's not everyday that I get to educate my very-savvy mother.

She has all the tricks when it comes to deals, and seems to be forever pulling some little unknown mom-n-pop place out of her purse for the cutest shoes or dress. She's the kind of gal that always has a one of the kind accessory or wrap or conversation piece on the table.

So when she dragged me recently into Pottery Barn to look at some knick-knacks for the house, I was a little fahklempt. Not that I have anything against Pottery Barn, mind you; it's just that I bust my butt for every cent I earn and like to hang on to as much of it as possible. I'm a little thrifty.

The things she picked up, like an antique-y looking wooden photo frame and watering can, were cute, yes, but when I glanced at the price tag .... whew!

"Ma! You can so get this stuff at a little second-hand place, and do it yourself!" I whined. My mother, besides being savvy, is very skilled with the whole crafts thing. (I haven't gotten farther than making the clay ashtray in grade school.)

There are little second-hand places all over the Tampa Bay area, too numerous to count in fact. And the treasures there are great! I can't believe some of the things that get left at these little shops, just waiting to be discovered and reborn with a little TLC.

We easily found a similar wooden frame and watering can between a couple of stops at some thrift stores. My mother picked up the few necessary supplies needed to finish them at a crafts store, and over she saved about $75. Yeah, $75. That's a nice chunk of change right now.

And, we supported two local businesses! Yay, us!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Did you all see this?

We were in the St. Petersburg Times!!!

Here is a preview!

Web site for independent businesses is off the chain

By Austin Bogues, Times Staff Writer
In print: Sunday, November 2, 2008

Ester Venouziou enjoys shopping at independent stores with good customer service.

The 38-year-old page designer at the St. Petersburg Times avoids the big-box stores.

In fact, her devotion to shopping small was so great that she started a group on the social networking site

The group, "Breaking the Chains," was an instant hit with friends and co-workers.

In August, Venouziou took it a step further. She launched an online business that promotes locally owned, independent stores, restaurants and service providers.

The Web site,, allows independent businesses in the Tampa Bay area to market themselves online.

Follow link for the full story:

Monday, November 3, 2008

How many lives did you save today?

If you don’t have a fire extinguisher in your home, the answer may be none. And the better question is “Why?”

The reason shouldn't be because you or family don't know how to use one. I know they look intimidating. But a local fire equipment distributor (there are quite a few in the Tampa Bay area) will come out and not only install extinguishers in your home, they'll give a how-to lesson for the whole family. Good way to protect yourself, your loved ones and support local business while you're at it.

Fires, no matter what their cause, grow and spread rapidly. They feed on oxygen, and will use almost anything in your home as a fuel source. Small fires become big fires, and then become tragedies.

A portable fire extinguisher can save lives and your home by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives. Multi-purpose fire extinguishers that can be used on all types of home fires are large enough to put out a small blaze and compact enough for anyone to handle easily.

And most can be purchased for under $20. Less than the price of a pizza.

And far less than the cost of a tragedy. Local fire equipment distributors offer hands-on fire extinguisher training in addition to professionally installing this life-saving device. So everyone in your home has access, and knows how and where to use it.

Of course, having a fire extinguisher in your home is only part of your survival planning. An escape route laid out ahead of time with your family, along with smoke detectors on every level in your home, can mean the difference. Know when to go.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Featured Business: If and Only If

Our awesome intern, Lauren Fuino, recently caught up with Teresa Letize, owner of If and Only If in St. Pete. They talked about Black Friday, happy customers, and, of course, fashion!

You can read more about Terese and her wonderful shop on our Web site,, under Featured Businesses.

You can click here for the direct link.

And make sure to check out the Contests link to find out how you can win this beautiful purple necklace and some other prizes!

Halloween contest!

Local Shopper had lots of great entries in our October contest at our Web site, Here are some of our favorites! Can you guess which one we picked?
Answer, of course, is on!

-- Ester Venouziou


Two entries by Tamara Hart

First, we dressed our two year old son up like a killer tomato. He was so fat with all the newspaper we stuffed in him that we had to put him in a wagon to go door to door. We went to visit our nieces and trick or treat with them. Our youngest niece as we started walking around to collect chocolate, started screaming and ducking. We asked her why she was doing that and as she started running home she yelled, "BATS!! BATS!! BATS!!". We didn't she her the rest of the night. Oh, yes there were bats. The rest of us thought it was pretty cool seeing it was Halloween, plus they eat the bugs that fly around and bite us.

The second Halloween was when one of our other nieces, who is was a teenager, decided to put make-up on my husband. He was going to wear the blow up ballerina costume. She made a real production of it. He looked pretty good too. Even with the mustache. When we went out with the kids to get treats someone yelled at my husband, "Show us what's was under the skirt!!" Well, the costume was connected from neck to ankle, but he could jump up and down and the skirt would fly up and down with him. He twirled around and acted like he was dancing then lifted the little skirt in the back as to moon them. Everyone laughed so hard just from him dancing and then a man fell out of his chair when he lifted the back of skirt to moon them.


By Lena Hunt:

When I was in fifth grade, my teacher appointed me the task of being a vampire for our school's spook house. Thoughts of strobe lights and being chased by people in black with "chainsaws" crossed my young mind as I pictured the spook houses I had experienced. I begged the teacher to let me be a greeter. She refused.

Grand opening night of our haunted abode, I laid shivering with fear in my own cardboard coffin. Even my fake vampire teeth were chattering! Suddenly, our first paying visitors came through and boy, did I ever scare the living daylights out of them when THEY SCARED ME by simply walking past my spray-painted coffin. I jumped up and dashed out of the mock coffin, nearly leaving my black cloak behind. Strobe lights, figures in black, and screaming chainless chainsaws followed me all the way out of my own haunted haven.


By Lena's daughter, Lauren Mabra

When I was only seven I dressed up as a rock star; I thought it was the coolest idea. So I threw on my pink wig (compliments of the Dollar Store) and some purple leather pants, then we were off on our Halloween adventure.

Our neighborhood was the ultimate trick-or-treating place. People would give out the whole six-candy-bar pack and not just individual candy bars! My friends and I would be having a heart attack over how much candy we've gotten from just the second house and our parents would be having a heart attack over how cold it was!

By the time we got home, my wig was a huge, pink fuzz ball (so much for Dollar Store quality), but I didn't care about that… I wanted the candy! All of us kids had a secret annual trade-your-bad-candy-for-someone else's, so we dumped all of our sweets out and began.


By Backyard Getaway, host of our Nov. 15 garden party!

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. My favorite halloween memory was when we took our 2 year old grandson trick or treating for the first time. He was a bit shy at first but once he realized that he was getting candy from every person he met he couldn't wait to get to the next house! But, I have to say my most memorable halloween was a few years earlier. When our kids were young we would have costume parties. My husband would create a haunted house. We had added a room to our home. The roof wasn't on yet just cement block walls. It made the perfect haunted house. One of my sons friends was a bit of a prankster & he decided he would scare the guys working the haunted house. I got the bright idea to scare him. As he entered the room he was suprised by one of the guys & he started swinging & backing up. I was right behind him & ended up with a broken nose & toe!


By Andrea Johnson

Magical and memorable: Halloween 2003 will always be very close to my heart. Bo and I eloped and were married in Gatlinburg, TN on November 1, 2003. We arrived in town the day before, on Halloween. After checking into a cozy room, and racing to get our marriage license before the courthouse closed - we ate a great dinner, we strolled around Gatlinburg, enjoying the town and the amazingly cool weather. People in bizarre and outlandish costumes roamed the streets. For everyone else, it was just Halloween. For me, that night, everything was right in the world because I was holding Bo’s hand. I lost Bo just 10 months later in a car accident. We would be celebrating our fifth anniversary this year. Instead, I hold the memories from that Halloween weekend very close to me and try to smile when I think of how very blessed I was.