Since she was a child, Elizabeth Chren has adored seashells. After her parents purchased a home in Sarasota in the 1970s, she grew up collecting seashells and making frames and mirrors decorated from her collection. Chren’s fascination of the beauty of seashells has never seized, and out of that, FantaSea became a reality.
“My family inspired this business. It’s been a dream of mine to have a shop like this since I was young,” said co-owner Chren.
Located on St. Armands Circle, FantaSea is a peaceful haven with a calming aroma. The shop offers one-of-a-kind shell work by both local and international artists as well as natural seashells and corals from all over the world, handmade jewelry, reference guides and books, home accessories and gifts.
“We wanted to create a shopping experience for the whole family,” Chren said. “We love that entire families come in and there’s something for every age group.”
The family-owned business moved two years ago to its larger location to be able to expand on the variety of what it could offer clients. FantaSea caters to loyal locals needing a gift or accessory for their home as well as tourists looking to take a keepsake or seashell back home with them (FantaSea also ships to make that easier for visitors).
“We strive to achieve the highest standards we can on par with a national company, but we are boutique, locally-owned company,” Chren said. “Our employees know customers on a first-name basis; that’s hard to find in today’s world with big box stores.”
The drive behind FantaSea will always come back to Chren’s love of seashells.
“My favorite thing about collecting seashells is the wonder and awe that you experience and the respect you have for the world at large,” said Chren. “When you’re on the beach and see how beautiful a small item like a seashell can be, it takes you back to that place when you were a child, that wonder comes back to you.”
Owners: Elizabeth and Paul Chren
Address: 378 St. Armands Circle, Sarasota
Hours: 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday
Line of business: Home accessories and gifts, all related to the sea
What makes the business unique: “The unique quality of the product — seashells are gorgeous and one-of-a-kind — the level of merchandising and display, and finally, the customer service,” Elizabeth Chren said.