Over the Years...
Elysian Fields opened in November of 1991 after years of promising the Sarasota community (through Yellow Page advertising) that they were coming soon! Co-owners Lea Semple and Kim Perkins were sure that they wanted to open the store, and sure that somehow that would happen, but for much of that time all they had was faith and hope. Then in mid-1991, a fortuitous chain of events provided both the funding and the location and in very short order, Elysian Fields was born. Originally located on US 41 near Bee Ridge Road in Snelling Plaza, the store relocated in 1995 to its current home a couple of miles to the north, still on US41, in Midtown Plaza. It has been a joy and a pleasure to serve the Sarasota community and beyond for over 22 years!
First Elysian Fields Sarasota Location
When Lea Semple, Elysian Fields designer and visionary and her business partner Kim Perkins were searching for a location to house Elysian Fields, they looked at a number of spaces until they found one that Lea said would be just right. From signing the lease in July of 1991, to opening in mid-November, those few short months were a whirlwind of activity. The space had to be built out, painted, and carpeted. Gift shelving had to be designed and built, book shelving ordered and shipped, all the books and merchandise had to be discovered and ordered, and then it all had to be received, priced and displayed.
It was a gargantuan task and everyone involved, especially Lea, worked tirelessly to get it done. In fact, the night before we opened, Lea worked all night long and went home at 9am for a quick shower and wardrobe change before the door opened at 10am! And although it was exhausting, it was also an exciting time as the vision and dream that had been brewing for so long was now a reality.
1995, Moving the Store!
You know the old adage about being “young and dumb”? Sometimes when we look back on those early days before our sudden move from the first location, that’s how we feel. And yet, without the blind trust we had (of course our landlord would tell us the truth!), we might never have found the wonderful location and the great building management that we now enjoy at Midtown Plaza.
When the roof used to leak and our books would get wet in our first location, our landlord’s answer was to move the bookcases a few feet to the left or right! You can imagine what a joy it was to move to a well-managed building.
How could we have lost our lease so suddenly? Even though we were aware that the Snelling Plaza was for sale, it seemed that there was always a sale “pending” that would fall through, and we got lulled into thinking that the six-month leases would just keep renewing. And when we were finally told that a sale had gone through, we were also told that the tenants would be able to stay through the end of the year. So, imagine our surprise when we received a letter, 30 days before our lease expired, that we had to be out by April 30th! Even though our attorney helped us negotiate an additional 30 days, when the doors closed on May 30th, we still did not have a new location secured.
Elysian Fields went into storage and owners Lea Semple and Kim Perkins went to the mountains of North Carolina to contemplate the next step. While they were there, they received a call about a space that they had looked at, and a final deal was made. So, in the summer of 1995, Elysian Fields opened in its new home in Midtown Plaza where it remains today. Reopening in one third of its current space, and not completing the build out until right before Christmas, made it a little hard for customers to locate us, but they eventually found us again.
Articles About Elysian Fields History
Collection of professional articles written about Elysian Fields. Click on any link to view the full content of the article.
- "Displaying Inspiration", Gifts & Decorations Magazine, September 2001
- "Lea Semple and Kimberly Perkins", West Coast Woman, September 1994
Advertorials written about Elysian Fields over the years.
- The Luxury Home
- 8 Years Anniversary
- 10 Years Anniversary
- Sarasota Magazine Awards Advertisement
- Sarasota Magazine
Magazines featuring Elysian Fields products.