MIAMI – In a little shop tucked away in downtown Miami, shiny, beautiful, sparkly and warm holiday gifts and décor items line the shelves. The tiny, cozy treasure box shop, 4 Season Home Decor, located in the Mini Mall on the first floor of the Miami Towers is the dream of owner Carol Larkin.
“I've always wanted to do something in this vein, but I work for the Miami Public Schools, and I work full time, so I'm still working there during the day,” Larkin said. “So, my hours are 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday and closed Sunday.”
Larkin's son Richard Kelley is currently working at the shop during the daytime to open the store now through Dec. 22 from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. for holiday shoppers. The shop is offering 20 percent off all items to entice shoppers to come to see what is offered.
The quaint little shop has been open for just three weeks. 4 Seasons Home Décor at this time offers items such as Christmas stockings, aprons, treat gift bags and arrangements, books, dishes, scented candles and lotions, English teas, soaps floral wreaths, wall art, candy, stuffed animals and figurines and packed with holiday décor. Larkin has gathered special items that can’t be found in other local stores.
“I just decided to do it,” she said. “Why? Because I always wanted to do it and I read this book, ‘The Christmas Shoppe’ by Melody Carlson. It’s great. I always wanted to do something, and you know how you procrastinate, year, after year after year. Then I read this book and this place just came open. It’s perfect. ”
A synopsis of Carlson’s book reads, “The small town of Parrish Springs is not ready for Matilda Honeycutt. A strange older woman with scraggly gray hair and jewelry that jangles as she walks, Matilda is certainly not the most likely person to buy the old Barton Building on the town's quaint main street. When it becomes apparent that her new shop doesn't fit the expectations of Parrish Springs residents, a brouhaha erupts. After all, Christmas is approaching, and the last thing the town needs is a junky shop run by someone who looks and acts like a gypsy. But as townsfolk venture into the strange store, they discover that old memories can bring new life and healing.”
“I read this book, and I thought, now’s the time. The book inspired me,” Larkin said, “ I came in here one day and saw a ‘For Rent’ sign on the window. I wanted to do this before I get any older. I’m thinking about retiring in a couple years. When I decided to do this, I just did it. I rented the place, put down the deposit and used money I had saved up to replace my kitchen counters to stock the shop and start my business. That’s the truth, that’s how I started.”
Anyone who has met Larkin is sure to remember her with her friendly openness. Larkin works for MPS at The Academy as the school's secretary.
“I’m true to The Academy too, and I believe in that program, and I believe in reinforcing to them all the time to follow their dream. The only example I’ve ever had is my life, so everybody has a story, this is mine,” Larkin said. “ I told the kids down there at the school if you want to do something, you just jump in there with both feet. I did. My philosophy is – failures are stepping stones to victory.”
“She’s a wonderful example,” her son, Kelley said. “ She has a winning personality.”
Larkin’s son and sister, Kay Russell, both help her in her shop.
“It’s a family thing going on. I couldn’t do this without their help,” Larkin said.
“My prices are real reasonable. Before I started this. I did some comparative shopping. I wanted to feel like I could walk into my own shop and be able to buy something without leaving and saying,' Oh, I shouldn't have paid that much money,'” she said. “We have lotion and soap sets for $8 for a great inexpensive gift.”
Beautiful holiday, silk flower arrangements and wreaths and crosses adorn the shop walls, all hand made and designed by Larkin. The medium sized wreaths are $55, larger ones $85, and crosses are $45. She also does custom order work to match any home style.
“I’ve had customers who have come in and said ‘If we tell you what we want can you do it?’ I said, ‘Absolutely.’ I've sold four of the crosses, a white, red and gold,” Larkin said.
She recently made a very special white wreath with pink ribbon and lights and unique items added to adorn the creation at the request of a son to lay on the graves of his parents in remembrance.
“It just came together beautifully, and it meant something. His wife picked it up and when she came in I thought she was going to cry,” Larkin said. “It was great.
Word is spreading quickly about the new specialty shop.
“Customers are finding me – it’s word of mouth. One of the things they comment on is the quality. You know, it’s good quality stuff, and that’s what I want to be known for. And I don’t want them to see the same things they can get elsewhere,” Larkin said. “I’m meeting a lot of people. It’s fun.”
Inventory will be re-stocked throughout each season and items added to offer a fresh shopping experience each time customers visit. The shop's inventory will be changed out each season throughout the year to provide special items.
“When I take Christmas all down, I'm going to go right into spring. I'm going to do something for Valentine’s Day, St. Patty's Day and Easter, then summer and fall and back to winter,” she said. “Drop in, just come by and see me. I just want everyone to feel welcome in my shop.”
For more information or to contact 4 Seasons Home Décor call 918-961-1443.