Suncoast View Spotlights Venice Shops: Artisans, Eyes on You, and Laurie Jean and Company

Suncoast View Spotlights Venice Shops: Artisans, Eyes on You, and Laurie Jean and Company

This month (air date March 13, 2020) Venice MainStreet showcased three businesses in the downtown area on Suncoast View—Artisans, Eyes on You, and Laurie Jean and Company. Click here for video of Kara Morgan, CEO of Venice MainStreet with ABC7 hosts Linda Carson and Joey Panek.

Artisans specializes in fashionable and unique jewelry, artwork, and a variety of home décor and gifts, including works by local artists, that bring beauty to you and your home. The store carries Pandora jewelry, Alex and Ani jewelry, Marahlago Larimar, and Frogman Bronzes. Its extensive Pandora collection features charms, bracelets, rings, ear rings, and necklaces. And special to Venice, the store carries engraved sharks tooth charms in three separate designs. Located at 203 West Venice Avenue; 941-488-8666; Hours of operation—Monday-Wednesday 10-6, Thursday-Saturday 10-9, and Sunday 11-6. 

Eyes on You offers an amazing selection of high-quality designer eyewear and prescription glasses for men and women to match your facial shape and personality. It prides itself on exceptional customer service, providing a customized, individually personalized approach to eyewear selection. Beyond eyewear, the boutique carries exquisitely crafted lingerie lines for women of all sizes and shapes that offer the ultimate in comfort, support, and style. And expert custom bra fittings ensure you have the support you need in all the right places. Located at 140 West Venice Avenue; 941-244-9054; Hours of operation—Monday-Friday 11-5 and Saturday 11-2.

Laurie Jean and Company, a classical coastal boutique, specializes in all things nautical. The shop offers a wide selection of women’s apparel, jewelry, and accessories as well as nautical home décor and gifts. It also sells 4ocean bracelets, made from at least 90 percent post-consumer recycled material. For each bracelet purchased, one pound of trash is removed from the ocean and coastlines. New to the boutique is jewelry made from Venice sand. Located at 219 Miami Avenue; 941-800-4828; Hours of operation—Monday-Saturday 10-6 and Sunday 11-5.

Call to Artist: Historic Downtown Interactive Mural

Call to Artist: Historic Downtown Interactive Mural

Venice MainStreet, Inc. is holding a contest for an interactive mural in Historic Downtown Venice. The mural will be located predominately downtown for hundreds of thousands of yearly visitors to see. Work must be completed by June 14, 2019. A Visit Florida grant will pay for a portion of this project.

Purpose:  To create an interactive mural that encourages people to take a picture with the image and share on social media. It must fit in with the ambiance of Historic Downtown Venice and advertise Venice, FL.
Theme: “3-D action image fitting to Venice in the time period of 1920s and the 1930s”


  • The wall is located at 303 W Venice Avenue Venice, FL 34285. The total wall space is 25’ by 7.5’. The entire wall does not need to be used for the mural. Because of the road location a space of 13’ by 7.5’ can be captured within one picture. The area would allow for up to two photo ops. See the attached diagram.
  • Concept and this completed form must be delivered to the Venice MainStreet office (101 W Venice Ave #23 Venice, FL 34285) by March 29, 2019
  • Concept should include details on scope of pay, maintenance expectations, artist bio with images of past work and the materials to be used.
  • A committee will choose the winning artwork by April 5, 2019
  • Once approved by the City of Venice work can begin. All work must be complete and billed to Venice MainStreet by June 10, 2019.

Artist Information:





Entry Title:_________________________________________________________

Cost to produce: ____________________________________________________

Materials to be provided by Venice MainStreet: ___________________________


Release:  If the design I have submitted is selected as the winning entry, Venice MainStreet has the exclusive right to reproduce, sell and distribute images of the work.

Venice MainStreet, a Brief History and Overview

Venice MainStreet, a Brief History and Overview

As we look ahead at the future of Downtown Venice, it is important to remember our past. In 1987, the Downtown Venice Association, a merchant’s organization, formed a non-profit corporation, Venice Main Street Association, enabling them to apply for the Florida Main Street Program. Venice City Council committed to contributing $15,000 per year in support for three years if Venice was accepted into the Florida Main Street program. In March 1988, Venice was chosen as a Florida Main Street City and selected its first Main Street manager. Today Venice MainStreet celebrates 32 years as an accredited Main Street program.

Florida Main Street is an assistance program administered by the Bureau of Historic Preservation, Division of Historical Resources, and Florida Department of State focusing on traditional historic commercial corridors. The Bureau conducts statewide programs aimed at identifying, evaluating and preserving Florida’s historic resources. Main Street, with its emphasis on preservation, has proven to be an effective strategy in achieving these goals in Florida’s historic retail districts. In the past, the word “downtown” brought to mind an image of a bustling center of commerce and activity. Too often, however, many small Florida downtown districts provided images of vacant, deteriorating buildings and struggling businesses. Communities have now discovered that with help from Florida Main Street, downtowns can thrive again. Venice MainStreet strives to develop and maintain strong relationships with its Business and Community Partners. Downtown Venice is testimony to the success of these relationships and the importance of common goals.

Today, Venice MainStreet is a volunteer driven non-profit dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in our Venice community. Venice MainStreet strives to collaborate with the City of Venice and other community groups to preserve and enhance the historic character, while also promoting and encouraging the economic and community vitality of Historic Downtown Venice. This goal is achieved by bringing engaging and entertaining events attracting visitors and enhancing the lifestyle of our local residents, and also investing in amenities, marketing and infrastructure for Historic Downtown Venice. To learn more about Venice MainStreet find us on Facebook or go to

Downtown Beautification – Here’s the latest

Downtown Beautification – Here’s the latest

By Jennifer Dorning
January 10, 2019

The Venice Beautification Project is moving forward in full force! Over the holidays the contractor opened all areas of downtown while the crews took a much-needed break and spent time with their families.

Crews continue installing landscaping and pavers on West Venice and Miami Avenues with the streets and sidewalks open. Some single lane closures may be needed for crews to safely do this work. All the major parking lots are open and on-street parking not effected by the current work is open. For now, the majority of streets received only one layer of asphalt due to heavy equipment and trucks that still need to drive on it, which could cause damage. At the end of the project, the contractor will return to install the final layer of asphalt on all streets except for eastbound West Venice Avenue which was paved with full depth asphalt.

Last week work began on the 200 and 300 blocks of Tampa Avenue (between Nokomis Ave. and Harbor Dr.) and Nassau Street (north of W. Venice Ave.). Tampa Avenue is currently closed from St. Augustine Street to Nassau Street and is open to LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY from Nassau Street to Harbor Drive to allow access to the post office and business parking. To complete the work on Tampa Avenue, scheduled for January 16th, St. Augustine Avenue will temporarily return to a two-way street so that customers can access the KMI Building/Venice Centre Mall from the parking lot on St. Augustine Avenue. Harbor Drive will remain open throughout the project.

The contractor will be completing underground drainage work on Nassau Street and Tampa Avenue. No trees are anticipated to be removed from Tampa Avenue at this time. Additional trees are scheduled to be planted to complement the existing trees. Pavers will be added on the 200 block and the sidewalks will be replaced. Crews will also install irrigation and electrical conduit on Tampa Avenue.

On January 3, 2019 a third public meeting was held for this project to provide a project update and to discuss the planned sequence of work for Tampa Avenue. The construction team met with property owners and/or their representatives on Tampa Avenue to discuss individual needs and to coordinate access. The anticipated completion for this work is March 2019. The downtown businesses are open and accessible and there is plenty of parking so please support them. If you have project questions, please contact Jennifer Dorning, Project Public Information Officer at or at (239) 338-7723.

The Gazebo Starlight Cinema

The Gazebo Starlight Cinema

By Michael T. Hartley

I have often marveled at how members of our community come together to enjoy the company of their friends, neighbors, and friends they haven’t yet met at programs held at the gazebo in Centennial Park. The foresight of the City of Venice officials to create this popular resource and enhance it with an earth bermed amphitheater surrounding a traditional Victorian-style gazebo near the popular water park and community restrooms is admirable.

One day I was parked on Tampa Avenue across from the gazebo and I imagined what it would look like if one side of the gazebo was a video projection screen. At that moment I could see dozens of adults and children sitting on folding chairs, on blankets, and just walking by while a family-friendly movie was playing.

As president of the Venice Institute for Performing Arts (VIPA) at the Venice Performing Arts Center (VPAC) I knew that we had the equipment that could be used to create such an event. Further, by rear-projecting video images from inside the gazebo we could overcome some of the problems of traditional outdoor cinemas that have become so popular in other cities, those being the complexity of setting up and securing a blow-up screen and keeping the projection and sound equipment safe from unforeseen weather events.

With this configuration in mind I proposed the idea to the VIPA board and staff and they thought it was worth pursuing. We wanted to make this a free event designed to encourage the citizens of Venice to come together once a month at sundown to have fun and fellowship. We also wanted to use the event to promote the programs at the VPAC, and even the existence of the VPAC since many of our seasonal visitor would not likely know of this fabulous, but mostly hidden, venue for the performing arts on our special island.

As we considered this project we also thought about strategic partnerships. We approached Erin Silk at Venice MainStreet and asked if they might want to collaborate on the development and promotion of the Gazebo Starlight Cinema as any event that prompted people in the area to visit the downtown was clearly in their mission.

The second strategic partnership we considered was with the Interclub Council at Venice High School (VHS) developed by Dr. Shari Valencic. This organization comprised the officers from several dozen clubs at VHS and serves a coordinating function. We thought that members from the various club represented by the Interclub council might wish to provide volunteer service to help setup the cinema each month in exchange for an opportunity for the clubs to promote themselves and their missions and projects to the audiences of the Cinema.

Our first event exceeded our expectations as families and groups of friends gathered with tables, chairs, crockpots, and dishes of food to enjoy a starry evening together. We invite you to join us the first Friday of month next year for a family friendly movie, many of which will be much loved classics. Two exceptions to the schedule will be in February and April. Check the VIPA or VMS Facebook for the most up to date schedule of events.

Give A Gift to Your Community – Shop Local

Give A Gift to Your Community – Shop Local

‘Tis the season for family, friends and holiday gifts. This year make your holiday shopping extra special by supporting a local business while you do it. With over 100 locally owned small businesses Historic Downtown Venice has something unique for everyone on your holiday list. You’ll find great toy stores, ladies and men’s boutiques, home décor and much more!

Today, shopping priorities are shifting towards convenience and savings. Holiday shopping online is tempting. Sites like Amazon make it easy to click and have it at your door the next day. Clicking the mouse may be saving money and time in the short run, however it is costing our community in the long run. It is depriving our community of important tax revenue and denying our local workforce income.

Local businesses mean local jobs that support local families. A study done by the Andersonville Development Corporation of Illinois found that locally owned businesses, retail and restaurant, generate 70% more local economic impact per square foot than chains. If you spend $100 at a locally owned restaurant, $73 is recirculated into the local economy, while spending $100 at a chain produces only $30.

The study concluded, “In every case, the findings have been unequivocal: independents bring substantial benefits to their local economies… The extra dollars in the local economy produce more jobs for residents, extra tax revenues for local governments, more investment in commercial and residential districts, and enhanced support for local nonprofits.”*
In a study closer to home, Venice MainStreet found that annually 44% of the participating downtown businesses give more than $2,000 a year to local charities, with the highest donations up to $25,000 in money, products and services.

Simply put, locally owned businesses create better communities. In a quickly changing retail environment every dollar counts, so let’s give a gift to our community by shopping local this holiday season

*Source: Civic Economics – Andersonville Study of Retail Economics.

Stroll with a Purpose

Stroll with a Purpose

by Marty Damon

We all enjoy a good wander through everything downtown Venice has to offer, but now is the time for some old-fashioned holiday fun and to shop like you mean it. The holidays are upon us, and Venice’s Christmas Walk is sure to make your gift-buying a special experience.

On December 6, downtown stores are extending their hours for the event, which takes place from 5 until 8 p.m. As you shop, you will encounter music and treats on “the Avenues” of Miami, Venice, and Tampa. Shoppers have been enjoying Christmas Walk for more than 30 years, and it’s easy to see why, with the variety of shops Venice has to offer combined with the festive mood of celebration.

Families can enjoy the decorations, and parents will want to snap a photograph of their small fry with Santa in person. Santa has agreed to take some time out from his workshop to meet old friends and new ones and he’ll be waiting for them in front of DanaTyler at 223 West Venice Ave.

Once your shopping is done, you can make an evening of it by dining in one of the many restaurants of downtown. A romantic candlelight dinner may be the perfect end to successful gift buying, or perhaps a quick slice of pizza, or maybe a round of ice cream sundaes would be more your speed. Which ever you choose, you’ll have that warm feeling of knowing you’ve gotten an early start on those presents

We are all so fortunate to have a venue as charming as downtown Venice. Come join us at Venice’s Christmas Walk and give your gift of support for our local businesses. For more information, visit Facebook @venicemainstreet or

What’s going on downtown, Q&A with Venice MainStreet

What’s going on downtown, Q&A with Venice MainStreet

There is a lot happening downtown! Each time you blink something has changed. Venice MainStreet is committed to the Historic Preservation and Economic Vitality of Venice’s heart; downtown. We work closely with a variety of community partners to achieve this goal. Because in this day and age it takes a community to support a historic downtown. We wanted to share with you what is happening downtown now and what you can expect in the future. The hopes are you will help us by doing your holiday shopping downtown and continue supporting our heart while we transition into the future.

The Downton Beautification is an 8.4-million-dollar project initiated by the voter referendum to improve our city’s infrastructure. In fact, the downtown infrastructure greatly needed improvement. Our drainage, pipes and roads were built decades ago to serve a different need and it was time for an upgrade before they failed. During this project sidewalks, benches, trash cans and much of our landscaping will be improved as well. A pedestrian fence, ADA curbing, in pavement lighted midblock crosswalk sign and six new stop signs will be added in an effort to make our downtown safer and more friendly to everyone.

Through all of this downtown is OPEN for business and we need you to continue supporting the shops and restaurants. They are small businesses run by our neighbors. These are people who belong to our community and employ our local families. Thank you to those who have made the commitment to support them through the beautification and we hope those who haven’t yet will consider doing so. When it comes to our historic downtown we are all in this together and we need your help to keep the magic alive. Here are some frequently asked questions about the project and their answers.

Q. Are the shops and restaurants OPEN during Beautification project?
A. The answer is YES! We are open for business and can’t wait to see you downtown.

Q. Where can I park?
A. All downtown parking lots are open and we have plenty of parking available. A helpful hint: Until Christmas just drive into downtown via Tampa Ave and enter Centennial Park from there. You will have no trouble. Find other parking options at

Q. Where can I find the most up-to-date information on the project:
A. The city’s website hosts this. Visit under “I Want to” and then “Find Out More About the Downtown Beautification Project”. Also, regular email updates are sent regarding project activities. You can request to be added to the project email distribution list by sending your email address to Jennifer Dorning, Project Public Information Officer at You can also reach her by phone at 239-338-7723.

Q. What streets are being affected?
A. The three main Avenues of downtown; Venice, Miami and Tampa. As well as Nokomis Avenue and Nassau Street.

Q. What has been done so far?
A. All the underground infrastructure has been completed on W Venice Ave. This was some of the most time consuming work. As of the beginning of November the shade trees, the sidewalk on the south side and the eastbound of W Venice Ave are near completion. The sidewalks are under construction on the north side of W Venice Ave with a plan for completion before Thanksgiving. Paving is scheduled on eastbound W Venice Ave, Nokomis Ave and the 300 block of Miami Ave before Thanksgiving. Westbound W Venice Ave and the 100/200 block of Miami Ave will be nearing completion prior to Christmas. Pedestrian access for your holiday shopping is being maintained to reach shops and restaurants.

Q. Will traffic patterns and sidewalks widths be changed with this project?
A. No. All traffic patterns will remain the same with 4-way stop signs being added to Tampa/Nokomis, Nassau/Venice and Nokomis/Venice Avenues for added safety. The sidewalk widths remain the same with added decorative paver borders along the curb.

Q. When will the Beautification be completed?
A. Venice and Miami Avenues are scheduled to have the majority of the work completed by Christmas when the focus will turn to Tampa Avenue. Final completion of the project is currently scheduled for March 2019. Remember, this is an estimate and dependent on many factors including weather.

Q. Why was this project started?
A. Two years ago the residents of Venice voted to upgrade and repave 74 miles of roadway and rehabilitate the downtown infrastructure, which had cracking roads, sidewalks and failing drainage infrastructure. To supplement funding, $2 million in grants were obtained.

Q. Why did they remove many of the palm trees?
A. Seventy-four the palm trees were removed. Most were severely diseased or wind damaged. They were at risk of falling over and would need to be replaced soon regardless of the project.

Q. Will they replace the palm trees?
A. Yes, over 370 new trees will be planted along Venice, Miami and Tampa Avenues. The new plantings include palm trees and shade trees along the sidewalks, too.

Q. Why are the crosswalks changing recently?
A. New federal mandates require the city to maintain proper crosswalks. It’s called ADA (American Disabilities Act) compliance. Our new compliant crosswalks will be much safer for our community of all ages and activities. New pavers will also make them beautiful! The crosswalks will be completed as each avenue is completed.

Q. What will happen to the Holiday Parade and other events?
A. Regardless of the beautification project we have had many successful and fun events downtown through the summer and we will continue to do so. The Free Friday Night Concerts begin again on November 23rd and the Holiday Parade will be November 24th on Tampa Avenue.

Q. What can I do to help?
A. Shop downtown, dine downtown and tell your friends to do the same. If you have any questions call Venice MainStreet and we would be happy to point you in the right direction 941-484-6722. Check for a calendar of happenings downtown.

Eyes Skyward

Eyes Skyward

by Marty Damon

The beachgoer in “Venice Girl,” Karen Chandler’s winning poster entry for the 31st Annual Venice Art Festival, might just be telling us we’ll all need shades for Venice’s bright future after the Downtown Beautification Project. Each year artists submit entries to the blind judging, hoping for their work to be chosen as that year’s signature image.

This year’s winner, Karen Chandler, is a professional artist who lives on the island of Venice and whose work can be enjoyed and purchased locally. She has been painting in oils over twenty-five years, and studied at the Stevenson Academy of Traditional Painting in New York, but her field of study has been anything but traditional. She went on to study design at the New York School of Visual Arts, and photography at the New York Institute of Technology, and she later included in her work acrylics and computer art.

Karen’s affiliations are as eclectic as her range of study. She is a member of the Society of Illustrators, providing illustrations for major publishers such as Simon and Schuster and Random House. She’s been associated with the NASA Space Art Program and Air Force Art Program since 1990, and her works hang at the Kennedy Space Center and the Pentagon. Her art is also in public and private collections across the country. Given her aeronautical connections, it’s especially appropriate that the figure in her winning entry, “Venice Girl,” stands in front of the dramatic Venice Beach Pavilion, with the wings of its concrete roof soaring skyward.

Prints, T-shirts, and tank tops of “Venice Girl” are all $20 each and are available for purchase at the Venice MainStreet office, 101 West Venice Avenue, Suite 23, Monday through Friday from 9–5pm. They’ll also be available at the Venice MainStreet booth at the 2019 downtown art and craft festivals. For more information call 941-484-6722