Lake Placid — There’s a little slice of paradise — Florida style — in the form of a neighborhood boutique called The Blueberry Patch. It is co-owned by sisters who are as close as three peas in a pod; Tracee Smoak, Kym Smoak and Samantha Price.

The Blueberry Patch could be called a gift store and that would certainly be accurate, but it is more than that. It is a place to get a free smile and a kind or encouraging word from one of the sisters or employees. It is a store to get a kitsch Florida souvenir or a sophisticated chandelier. One can find jewelry and shabby chic home items. There is not much that can be imagined that cannot be found at The Blueberry Patch.

Renee Kohl, owner of Grow Strong Fitness and Yoga, a business located across the street from The Blueberry Patch and friend with the sisters, said they would move heaven and earth for their customers. That may account for the expansion need from the store’s original Interlake Boulevard location to the Journal Plaza building after its renovation. She said their personal traits help their business to prosper also.

“The women are fair, energetic and trustworthy,” Kohl said. “They make sure their merchandise is [note]worthy. They put their customers above anything else. The world stops when it comes to their patrons.”

The three sisters have a tremendous faith in God and illustrate it to all. Kohl said that is the secret to their success.

“Because their belief in God and their morals dictate their business,” she said. “The Blueberry Patch and their staff make sure that every single person who enters is welcomed. If there is a certain gift that is needed, they will either have a registry or know where to find the perfect gift for that particular person.”

Teri Grooms is the owner of the Good News Juice & Smoothie Cafe, which is next door to The Blueberry Patch. As a matter of fact, customers can enter and exit both stores through an adjoining door. The four women have grown close since becoming neighbors. Grooms said she admires the way the women are friendly and concerned for anyone who enters.

“They know what customers want and what their clients are looking for,” Grooms said. “They really spend a lot of time with their customers. If they don’t have something and the customer wants it, they will get it or refer them to someone who can provide it.”

Grooms said one of the reasons for their success is that they simply care about people and that’s why their customers are loyal and keep returning. Grooms laughed as she said the ladies are always willing to give her advice and is grateful for their knowledge.

“They are a team,” she said. “As a sole business owner, they have always been there for me. They say it takes a village to raise a child. It’s the same with a business.”

Grooms listens to the advice the sisters give and notes that The Blueberry Patch has been so successful that they had to move from their original location on Interlake Boulevard, next to Wauchula State Bank. When Ken LeBlanc renovated the Journal Plaza, the ladies jumped at the chance to be in on the ground floor both figuratively and literally and have relished the extra square footage ever since.

Grooms and Kohl have the utmost respect for the women of The Blueberry Patch both professionally and personally.

“Those ladies use their talents to compliment each other and the business,” Grooms said.


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