PANAMA CITY — Mary Stone and Pat DiLauro met while teaching at St. Andrew School. They soon discovered they both enjoyed “picking” and hit auctions, estate sales, yard sales — any place a unique item might be found.
“We only pick stuff that jumps out at us,” Pat said. “Unique things, not your normal knick-knacks. No plastic. No clothing. Stuff that looks beautiful but someone can grab at a good price.”
Earlier this year, they turned that hobby into a business, opening The White Elephant in St. Andrews. They buy, sell and trade antiques, vintage items and unique things that pique their interests.
“It’s doing well, thanks to word-of-mouth,” Mary said. “We love St. Andrews. We have the nicest people around here, and the business (owners) couldn’t be nicer. People have been so helpful, very supportive.”
And business has been steady enough to pay the bills, though they still are working their way through that rough freshman year any business has to survive.
“We quit our gym memberships,” Pat said, joking that they get all the exercise they can handle moving furniture.
Located off 12th Street on the slope above Lake Ware, The White Elephant shows the owners’ eclectic interests, from glassware to art, jewelry to statues, books to furniture. And they keep their eyes out for items their customers want; they keep a wish list of requests.
“There’s no rhyme or reason” to what people are interested in, Pat said. “They like everything.”
“We end up picking stuff we like,” Mary said. “Artwork goes well — we love artwork. Right now, we’re looking for bigger pieces.”
Mary was teaching first grade at St. Andrew School when Pat was hired as her part-time paraprofessional many years ago. Pat eventually became a kindergarten teacher at the same school. Mary retired this year after 23 years in the classroom, but Pat still teaches.
“We got along instantly,” Mary said. “We loved that population (of students).”
The women are also glad to be part of what appears to be a rebirth of businesses in the St. Andrews. Several thrift and vintage stores have opened recently, evening traffic has picked up with restaurants in the area doing well, and regular events like the weekend farmers market have helped establish the neighborhood as a haven for shoppers.
“In this economy, everybody’s looking for a good deal,” Pat said.
THE WHITE ELEPHANT
- Where: 2800 W. 12th St., Panama City
- Hours: 10ish a.m. to 5ish p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 10ish to 2ish Sundays
- Details: Facebook.com/The-White-Elephant or call 814-3251 or 819-5541