Indie fashion, local art and cool accessories are the hallmark of this hip boutique
BY ALEXANDRIA JONES
Marina Williams, owner of ARTpool Gallery, has a unique sense of personal style./Photos by Alexandria Jones
Vintage shopping brings back fond memories for me. Getting something from a different era is exciting because I know for a fact no one else owns the same item (I have a skirt in my closet from high school that I never want to get rid for that exact reason).
One of the most unique vintage shops in St. Pete is ARTpool Gallery on Central Avenue in the up and coming Grand Central District. ARTpool Gallery is the brainchild of St. Pete native Marina Williams and her partner Evan. The original location of ARTpool Gallery opened in 2008 off 1st Avenue North. They moved to the current location on Central Avenue in 2011 and haven’t looked back. It’s funny to think of their evolution from one rack of clothing to now having two large buildings with a beautiful outdoor garden and an assortment of items on sale ranging from women’s to men’s clothing, various accessories, artwork, and records.
Fashion never fails to inspire Marina. To her, it sets the mood and tone when you wear fun things; it’s an attitude and a way of life. Her mom encouraged her to express herself through clothing and didn’t bat an eyelash at the eclectic outfits she would create. She says her love of vintage fashion derives from her mom, Rebecca Williams, and one of her earliest fashion memories is hearing her mom come home from work.
“This was the late 80s, early 90s,” Marina relates. “When I was really young, I would know my mom was coming home because I could hear her heels clicking on the pavement. She’d be sporting some cool Lucite heels and I was like ‘Mom’s home to save the day!’ ”
The idea for ARTpool Gallery came from Williams’ love of mixing vintage fashions and photography. She would collect and source different items for herself and models. When the original location opened initially as a space for artists to show and sell their work, her clothing became a topic of conversation.
“Customers would say they loved what I wore and how funky it is,” said Marina. “I had all this great vintage and my mom said bring in a rack and see what people say. If people aren’t into it, I could just roll the rack out.”
At this point, it’s obvious the customers love her clothing.
Marina has been collecting vintage items for over two decades and sources items in various ways such as travels abroad or road trips. She went backpacking in Europe and brought back supplies for jewelry-making as well as other treasures. People can bring in their own vintage items and do a buy/sell/trade at the store. Items from the 1920s-1970s are the majority of the clothing sold and everything is ready-to-wear.
ARTpool Gallery is known for its popular pop-up shops. One of them is Crafty Fest, a monthly pop-up market for indie vendors and artists to show and sell their work and vintage pieces to the public. It started 10 years ago as a quarterly event and turned monthly when its popularity grew. Potential vendors can apply online and pay a fee depending on if they want a space for the day or the weekend. Crafty Fest is held the first weekend of each month (except for July and August).
“The ARTpool customer is so versatile. We have very young shoppers, vintage shoppers and everyone in-between,” adds Marina. “It really is fun because we try to have our products be applicable to any age range and personal styles. I like to say everybody is our shopper.”
ARTpool Gallery is at 2030 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg. For hours and event information, go to artpoolrules.com or call (727) 324-3878
DID YOU KNOW
Located across from the historic Haslam’s bookstore on Central Avenue and 20th Street, the ARTPool space was designed by Archie Parrish in 1937 and was home to Moon Plumbing Supply Store. Throughout the past 75 years, the location has been the home to Saint Petersburg’s original Fred Astaire Dance Studio, a Polish restaurant, a church, and a number of local independent businesses.