New retail spot ushers in British invasion of downtown Sanford

The British are coming!

The Rosie Lee Co. (Facebookwebsite), a gift store with a British flair, opens today (Aug.19). The store is located at 111 E. 1st St. in the space where Tuned Up music shop used to be.

The sign on the door says “The Rosie Lee Co., Purveyors of Fine Tea, Soaps, Antiquities & Oddments,”  which sounds like the perfect place to do some #Sanfording. Owner Kim Isaac says the store will offer artisan gift items, British staples like HP Sauce, select antiques and a large selection of loose and boxed teas.

“I look for items that are unique and not available anywhere else,” said Isaac. ” Whether it’s our novelty gifts, our antiques, or our teas and soaps, you’re not going to find these things at Walmart or mass-market stores.

“And you won’t find the same things at our store. We won’t hold onto any one line, unless it’s just a phenomenal seller.”

The soaps, for example, come from France and are made according to the standards of the Savon de Marseille standards established in 1688.

Looking for a unique tea to serve at your next social event? Isaac sells 30 different types of loose and boxed teas from England.

“You can also make your own tea blends,” Isaac said. “We have 4 different tea bases and 20 different herbs. You’ll be able to make the tea that fits your palate .”

The Rosie Lee Co. will also offer vintage tea sets for those who want an authentic British tea experience.

As for the antiques, don’t expect the mishmash of humdrum “antiques” that filled many a downtown storefront during the last 20 years. The antiques will be curated specifically for the store by 2 Create Styles in a partnership wth The Rosie Lee Co.

So why open a British-inspired store in downtown Sanford?

“It just seemed to make sense,” Isaac said. ” We looked at Mt Dora and DeLand, but neither seemed like the ideal fit.”

Isaac added that Sanford’s diversity was a major attraction for her and her husband, Paul, a U.K. native. For instance, within a 5-block radius of The Rosie Lee Co., there are Greek, German, Belgium, Jamaican, Korean, Nuevo-Southern, seafood, American diner-style and gastro pub restaurants. Not to mention a cupcake cafe, a craft ice cream and marshmallow shop, craft breweries, craft cocktail bars and other nightlife.

“I love vintage, and I like that Sanford has a real history,” Isaac said. “When you add the diversity of the businesses, it made Sanford the perfect choice.”

Isaac previously owned a spa in Winter Park, and she has a diverse background. She has worked in retail, at law firms and is finishing her master’s in Public Health.

In the beginning, The Rosie Lee Co. will be open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. 7 days a week.

“I’ll just need to see what times are most popular with customers and adjust as needed,” Isaac said.

She added that if she still has customers in the shop at closing time, she has no plans to close.

“If I’m here and people are buying, I’m staying open,” Isaac said.

Opening day is today, but already Isaac is thinking toward the future. On possible future expansion could include hosting teas at the store.

“That’s just an idea. We need to get the store open and see the response,” said Isaac.

The name of the store seems nonsensical, but Isaac said it’s based on a Cockney tradition.

“Rosie Lee is Cockney rhyming slang for tea,” Isaac explained. “It’s hard for Americans to understand, but it’s very big in England.”

For instance, if you hear the phrase “It’s tucked away under the apples and pears,” it means whatever you’re looking for is tucked away under the stairs. “Dog and bone” equals telephone.

“It’s very difficult to understand a Cockney accent anyway. When you add the rhyming slang, it’s impossible to figure out what they’re saying,” Issac said.

So stop trying to decipher accents or slang when shopping for your British-inspired gifts. Head to The Rosie Lee Co. and let Isaac do the rest.

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