Michelle Brooks has a smile on her face and in her heart.
The 50-year old Seminole Heights resident and former district manager for Starbucks is keeping herself busy these days with the creation of a neighborhood market that fits the Seminole Heights ideal and attracts locals both for shopping and socializing.
"I'm glad to have the chance to create this store because it gives me a way to interact with people," Brooks said. "A neighbor and friend came by today, they brought me Mexican food and grabbed a beer and sat down to have lunch with me. That made my day."
5805 North Florida Avenue
Military Cards: With her son serving in the United States Marine Corps, Brooks began making cards for military parents to send to their kids. It has become her passion and the work that provides her money to live off of aside from the store.
"For the first few months of my son being in Afghanistan, I was a really good mother sending cards and packages all the time. But it didn't take long before I was out of cards to buy. I'd be at the store and I'd already bought all the ones they had. So now, I bundle homemade cards by twenty packs and sell them so other families can write their messages on them. Neither me or my son speak Spanish, but I was getting to a point I thought about buying cards in Spanish just to get a different one and I'd translate it for my son," Brooks said.
Two Businesses: "The store is going to hopefully help me pay my bills and keep my lights on. Hopefully, the cards will give me money to eat. I'm not going to be rich but I'm happy doing this. These cards mean something to people," Brooks said.
The Neighborhood: "I've lived here for six years and in my opinion this is the greatest neighborhood in the world. They are so supportive of everything local and they really pull for the little guy when it comes to business," Brooks said.
Recreating herself: "I turned 50 this year and I figure this is my last chance to reinvent myself. I wanted to do something that would really bring me joy and I think having my own thing was missing. I did the corporate job for 12 years and I had plenty of money to play with. Now I have no money, but I get to play everyday I come to work," Brooks said.
Satisfaction: "I can take direction well, but my last job made me felt like something was missing. Now I'm my own business and I have to figure things out for myself. I like the challenge and if I can keep my power on and eat, I'm good," Brooks said.
Inventory: Brooks sells everything from teas to bath salts, socks, ornaments, bird houses and fresh herbs and pasta from the Ravioli Co. in South Tampa.
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m.-5p.m.