Have You Been to Miami Lately?

Miami Avenue, that is, in downtown Venice.  Whatever your answer, next time you are downtown, or “on the island” as the locals say, start out on Miami Avenue as you work your way to West Venice and Tampa Avenues.  You will find unique little shops carrying everything from fossilized squid to unique fashion.

I recently visited with Don and Draeanne Rivette, owners of a new store, Earth’s Treasures.  It’s a mini museum of natural history filled with, as their sign reads: shark teeth, minerals and crystals, fossils, gators, real insect jewelry and wire wrapping services.  Don is a self-taught geology and paleontology enthusiast and Draeanne “wire wraps” shark teeth into jewelry.  “We sell sharks teeth, but customers can bring us their own finds for me to wrap,” she says.

The store has a little of the Australian outback feel.  As I waited for a break in customer traffic, I spotted a huge shark jaw that took up the entire width of one of the front windows.  Making my way around the store, I find a variety of minerals, such as, agatized coral, which Draeanne tells me is “the official Florida state stone found in Tampa Bay.”  There are healing stones too such as Rose quartz, Malachite and Herkimer diamonds that look like “real” diamonds but are in fact a form of quartz.

You will also find beaded necklaces made of Amethyst, Lapis, Ammonite (petrified nautilus), just to name a few. But the most interesting piece Draeanne shows me is a two-foot by one foot-and-a-half slab of fossilized squid. It looks like black granite squid embedded in a rock solid plate.

Don and Draeanne hope to expand the activities in the store to include presentations by the locals.  For example, author/diver, Robert L. Fuqua, who wrote Fossil Shark Teeth of Venice, Florida is willing to share interesting anecdotes and little known tidbits of his experiences and discoveries.  Drop by Earth’s Treasures and let them walk you through a fun and fascinating world.

And now let’s talk fashion on Miami Avenue.  Venice in Vogue, formerly on West Venice Avenue, as owner Lynn Napieralski rightly calls it, is “A fine fabulous funky boutique.” As you enter the shop, cast your gaze upwards and enjoy the picturesque scenery of parasols hanging from the fifth wall, as the ceiling is often referred to. You cannot help but admire these functional umbrellas, beautifully displayed to show off their colorful artwork. This is the type of item you either treat yourself with or give to the person who has everything. The shop features all a woman needs to dress up or down depending on the occasion. There are no-iron casual dresses and sun-dresses to suit every size and every taste. I found her special occasion dresses, by designer Samuel Dong, feminine and smart.  I can count on the lycra fabric of Dong’s creation to expand or shrink with me, offering superb comfort while looking fine and fabulous.  The selection of ZAND Amsterdam reversible 4-in-1 skirts with a matching purse are a must-have for any wardrobe.

My favorite pieces, though, were the easy to wear silk tops made in Italy. Some are white-on-white or sky blue, each accessorized with lace trim or embroidered silk. I promised myself I would come back to the shop and purchase at least one of the tops.

Need a pair of stylish yet comfortable shoes? The multi-colored offerings are unique and whimsical, with a feminine style.  As the interview was coming to a close, I scanned the jewelry section and a leather and pearl necklace caught my eye. Lynn explained that, “It is made by a local artist, Claudia Bowers, and that it can transform into a bracelet or anklet.”

When asked how she approaches her customers when they come into her shop, she quickly responds, “I treat them as I want to be treated, with respect.  I offer a friendly greeting and personal assistance when someone asks for help.  I love helping a woman find what fits her body and personality.”

So, whether you have or haven’t been to the Avenue of Miami lately, give yourself the experience of Earth’s Treasures and the fashion of Venice in Vogue where cash purchases get you a 10% discount any day.  Happy shopping!