Gulfport Merchants Chamber Business Briefs

On Saturday, May 4, the official launch party for James Briggs’ Carroway + Rose public relations agency in Gulfport was held at the Enroy Foundation. The event also featured a backyard Cajun concert with Gulfport Swamp Opera and guest musician Ann Whitley Singleton. Pictured from left are John Haugen, Brenda McMahon, Barbara Banno, Laura Shepherd, James Briggs (front), Larry Enlow (back), and Mike Fagan.

The arrival of national arts firm, Carroway + Rose, First Harvest Produce’s relocation and Funky Town Boutique’s demise is happening all within the same month.

Carroway + Rose Engages Local Artists 

When James Briggs, the owner of national arts firm Carroway + Rose visited Gulfport earlier this year, he didn’t expect to extend his branch into a trio. 

Yet on Saturday, May 4, Briggs opened a third satellite branch of Carroway + Rose in Gulfport, a solid addition to the other two branches in Charleston, South Carolina and Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

“I thought, there is no way there is this many arts in the Gulfport, St. Petersburg area,” Briggs said. “But there is such an artistic sense in this area, I think people feel safe to create.” 

Carroway + Rose has already added ArtJones leader Brenda McMahon, Sea Dog Designs, the Enroy Foundation and The Laura Shepherd Show podcast along with a handful of other collaborations. 

“All our artists are under one umbrella,” Briggs said. “What sets us apart is that all our artists are there to help each other.” 

The agency plans to donate 11 percent of all gross income to Noble Roses, a foundation that Briggs started with the purpose of helping local artists and the community. 

“The foundation will be dedicated to things like local artist grants, historic preservation, music performance, mental health institutions, really a range of community helpers,” Briggs said. 

Currently, the agency has no brick-and-mortar office, however, Briggs said, “I’m happy to be here in Gulfport.” 

Brenda McMahon Gallery Opens in Gulfport

Members of the Gulfport Merchants Chamber, Vice Mayor Paul Ray, pictured far right, and fans of a Gulfport ceramicist artist, pictured center right with the ribbon-cutting scissors, helped her open her first business storefront: Brenda McMahon Gallery, 2901 Beach Boulevard, Suite 104, on Friday evening, May 3. “It means I’m coming out to the community in a big way with my artwork and as a representative of other artists to really show the incredible breadth and quality of work being created here in Gulfport and in the St. Petersburg area,” said McMahon. “I’m eager to show the diversity of work with thematic monthly shows. I want to excite and inspire the local community like with a Women of Steel show that features women metal workers. It will evolve. I like the idea of rotating art and showing people things they don’t expect. It’s part education and part exploration. We’ll watch it unfold.” During the opening that featured works from McMahon and nine other artists, musician Lindy Romez provided live soft jazz with her trumpet. Photo by Debbie Wolfe. 

 

Funky Town Unwillingly Closes

For two years, Jackie Kreuter, the owner of Funky Town Boutique enjoyed her downtown Gulfport spot at 3117 Beach Blvd. S.

In April of this year, Kreuter explained, her landlord raised the rent from $1,000 to $2,500. 

“We cannot sustain a rent like that, and I am not willing to move out of downtown” Kreuter said.

The boutique owner will be out of her shop by May 31, and is having a sale that includes up to 75 percent off and $5 items. 

“What’s really crazy is I worked for the previous owner, and she was going to sell,” Kreuter said. “I had to buy it.” 

Kreuter believes the increase in rent is because her next-door neighbor, Stella’s, is moving locations. 

“The landlord knows he can get more for this place, because the business that is replacing Stella’s is going to be giving him $4,000,” Kreuter said. “That’s too much for retail.”

Kreuter is hoping something will become available in the next month, or that her landlord will change his decision. 

CUTLINE: Jackie Kreuter, the owner of Funky Town Boutique, located at 3117 Beach Blvd. S., stands outside her closing store. According to Kreuter, her shop will be closing on May 31 due to an $1,500 increase in rent by her current landlord. 

First Harvest Becomes Kenwood Market 

First Harvest Produce, previously located at 2108 49th St. S., will no longer exist. 

Instead, Kenwood Market, run by the same owner, Joseph Buono and located at 2735 5th Ave. N., is open. 

“With a heavy heart I have decided to close First Harvest Produce,” the owner wrote in an April 11 Facebook post. “This will be our last week in operation. I would like to thank our loyal customers as we’ll miss you.” 

Buono opened Kenwood Produce with the employees as First Harvest. 

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