- January 10, 2023
Business in the front and party in the back was the motto at Driftwood Beach Home and Garden’s one-year anniversary celebration. Owner Heather Rippy balanced customers streaming in and out of the store with a birthday celebration in the back, complete with elaborate charcuterie boards made on items from the store and pretty paper plates and napkins from her picnic section.
“I’m just so grateful,” Rippy said. “I feel so, so lucky. I have the nicest customers ever and I really feel like we’ve been able to create community here.”
The community showed out for the celebration, stopping in for a quick, “Congratulations,” or staying for chit-chat and some chow. Tina Anderson, a chef who does classes at the store’s garden, put together the charcuterie boards, and Rippy’s daughters, Bliss and Lark, helped keep the dessert table stocked for residents and customers who’d been coming since nearly the beginning. One couple, Larry and Melissa Robb, first learned of the store when they biked by it. They’d stop in on their bikes and then come back with the car to buy the items they’d fallen in love with.
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“To bring it from what it was in a year to this is amazing,” Larry Robb said. “There’s always something new. It’s a highlight to take a bike ride and see what Heather’s doing.”
Rippy has curated a collection of eclectic home and garden items, from cookbooks in every color and food group imaginable to a range of pots and garden gloves to accompany the seeds and orchids she sells. Her philosophy is rooted in the success of small businesses everywhere and she focuses on buying from local or fair-trade businesses. Stephanie Troxler, who painted a watercolor map of Longboat Key that’s been popular with customers, was among those who stopped by. Irina LaRose, who owns the salon Design2000 next door, said Rippy’s store has brought many new customers to the plaza and to her business.
“The synergy is great,” LaRose said. “We have people come shop while they wait for appointments and she’ll send people to us. She’s so supportive and will hand out our cards. … It’s nice to have another woman business owner here to talk about what to do in summer and ideas for our businesses.”