Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Relationships Heart of Blue Mangrove



C3-CBN-10-17-14-14Christie Marcoplos is an entrepreneur at heart. It all started when she began working at the age of 15, and she owned her own florist and gift shop in New Hampshire for a time. When she moved to Southwest Florida, she tried to shake the business bug and worked a few years for Clyde Butcher at his Big Cypress Gallery in the Everglades.

Alas, Marcoplos could not resist, answered the siren’s call of entrepreneurship once again. On Dec. 5, 2006, she opened Blue Mangrove Gallery, now located at 1089 N. Collier Blvd. in the Marco Town Center. “I felt compelled to follow my calling,” she says. Representing some 300 artists, Blue Mangrove carries an ever-changing array of artisan jewelry, glass, pottery, accent furniture, art, photography, notecards, books, women’s handbags and accessories. Have children? No problem, Blue Mangrove has special treats — games, puzzles, books and stuffed animals — for them as well.

“I love handcrafted art of all mediums and especially working with such dedicated, hardworking and fun people who strive to make their living from a craft they are passionate about,” Marcoplos notes.



Many of Blue Mangrove’s vendors are “Fair Trade” vendors, while others give back by donating a percentage of their sales to charity or by training people to become skilled craftsmen, thus creating jobs and sustaining livelihoods and communities.

For Marcoplos, her business experience has found its strength and success in relationships. “With my first business, I had loads of support from family, friends, the bank and all the other businesses in town because it was a small town. Plus, I had lived there for quite some time. Moving here and opening another business was a huge leap as that support system was far away. Luckily, I met great artist friends who have continued to demonstrate their faith and support. My 30-year-old son is extremely supportive yet lives miles away in Idaho.”

It was these relationships that carried Marcoplos and Blus Mangrove through the first three years of business. “During my very first winter, Marco began to feel the economic downturn, yet no one knew why. I survived those years — thankfully — from the support of the community, good friends and being fortunate to move my business to a much better location within (Marco Town

Christie Marcoplos and Celeste Navarre

Christie Marcoplos and Celeste Navarre

Center). The first 3 years were extremely difficult.”

She also credits her own inner drive and determination: “I am still learning everyday, yet my personal inner drive and the words ‘don’t be afraid to fail,’ which a colleague of mine told me in my early 20s, have pushed me the most.”

To budding entrepreneurs looking to make their retail fantasies realities, Marcoplos says, “Do your homework. Owning a retail business is not for the faint of heart or a nice little hobby. You must be able to be work 24/7 to get it off the ground, plus be aware of your neighbor businesses and respectful to what they provide. Be honest, diligent and passionate. Your passion will see you through, and it is a constant learning process.”

She also encourages them to choose carefully when it comes to merchandise and from where it comes. “Think about what you purchase, the trail of how it arrived, the businesses you purchase from and their business and ethical practices,” Marcoplos urges. “Be mindful of your choices as the trail runs deep, and we all have the right to practice what we believe in by understanding our individual steps we chose on this planet.”

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