Sunday, 29 April 2012

Wandering Orlando - Winter Park Shopping Treasures

Years ago when I first started working in the 80's, I was all matchy matchy with the shoes and the handbags and the Oroton custume clip on earrings. Keeping up that appearance required a lot of shopping. Oh - and every morning having to swap all my handbag contents into another bag.

Then I discovered black.

But when on holidays, and particularly in Florida, suddenly there is colour everywhere! Orlando, being one of the world's most frequented tourist destinations, has miles of shops where you can purchase buckets of  colourful items! Sometimes too much colour!

One of my worst 'hypnotised by the colour - have to buy some' experiences was at a chain store named Chicos in San Diego. This store at first appears benign but on return to Canberra I realised that I do not live on the Gold Coast, am not blond, not tanned, nor am I 5ft 10in, weighing 55 kilos. But I do not have to fear - Chicos does not stray any further than 2 kms from a coast line. Orlando, being inland, is safe territory.

Now, knowing that many Zontians love a good shopping experience let me introduce you one of the nicest areas - Park Avenue, Winter Park.

Pictures of Park Avenue, Winter Park

(photo source: TripAdvisor )

Winter Park is a low rise, tree-lined, outdoor cafe'd, brick paved streeted adult world in a town that makes it money from theme parks.

The main intersection in town
The first thing that stikes is the sound of Winter Park. See that road surface above? Brick pavers. So it makes a very distinctive clinking paver noise as the cars roll across. Also as you can see the place is very pretty. Tree lined streets, large flower tubs and of course there is a very pretty park.

All very 'just so'
The shops themselves are all very plush and boutiquey. No Wal-Marts here.

Photos of Park Avenue, Winter Park
(photo source: TripAdvisor  )

Every third shop is a jewellery / accessories store. These are a mixture of designer consignment stores, serious gem stores and custume statement pieces. One gallery, Tresor, allowed me to photograph some of their pieces. Which was very nice of them. It is all so very fabulous and chic and sophistocated. Shame my photography does not possess any of those attributes.

A broad collection of high quality designers. Click on the photo and hopefully it embiggens
The other major gallery (not jewellery stores - 'gallery') is Be on Park. Also operating as a designer outlet, it is much more serious and also carries home interior pieces such as art, crystal, small pieces of furniture and estate pieces.

Top left clockwise: designer diamond bracelets, inside the gallery, artwork for sale, tableware
Park Avenue is full of shoe stores, clothing boutiques and all types of gift stores.

Photos of Park Avenue, Winter Park
(photo source: TripAdvisor  )

Some of the stores, like Scott Laurent's Wearable Art work hard to be collections of unique items.

Orlando colours - hand painted silk Beautiful but I can't imagine ME wearing it
The Partridge Tree Gift shop carried my Portmeirion dinner service, Crabtree and Evelyn and other gifty brands like Tyler candles, Burts Bees and cards and wrappings.

The Partridge Tree carried the most amazing array of Vera Bradley.   Vera Bradley is a HUGE brand in the US. The brand is based on the bright, colourful, intricate patterns that are then applied to pretty much any product you can think of. At any one point in time they may have 50 patterns available and are retiring and launching them frequently. If you can think of it, Vera Bradley have patterned it - bags, luggage, stationery, party items (paper plates, cups, napkins), eye wear, umbrellas, even yoga mats an flip flops! 

Walking around Florida I was astonished at the frequency with which I saw a woman with a Vera product. It was as if ownership was compulsory!

So I bought a wheely bag.

In boysenberry.

But this time I have NOT been hypnotised by the bright colours!!

Future Winter Park Shopping parts will cover Food & Wine, and Tours and Museums - including Tiffany Glass