By Louise Bolger | sun staff writer
Once upon a time, a snowy white egret found her way from the land of ice and cold to the warm beaches of Anna Maria Island. The lovely egret was graceful, peaceful, and had smashing good taste. She established herself at the northern tip of the Island, where she planned on living happily ever after enjoying the sparkling Gulf waters.
Do you believe in fairy tales? Barbara Jaeger, owner of The White Egret, The Egret’s Nest and The Egret’s Landing, sure does. She is living proof that fairy tales do come true. Since moving from Wisconsin to Anna Maria, with her husband, John, in 2000, Jaeger has transformed her original retail shop in Bayview Plaza into a multi-faceted retail and home decorating business.
Five years ago, she purchased two buildings on Gulf Drive in Anna Maria, and using her 13 years of boutique and bridal shop experience, expanded into two separate shops, including a complete home decorating service. In July of 2007 she added another store specializing in coastal and traditional home furnishings.
As soon as you pull up in front of The White Egret with its peach and yellow facade or walk next door to The Egret’s Nest painted with tropical pale green, yellow and blues, you’ll suspect you’re in for a treat. The huge windows facing Gulf Drive bring an abundance of natural light into The White Egret to show off all of Jaeger’s great taste in choosing merchandise. There are all types of home accessories, including bed and bath goods, Tyler scented candles, table wear and a full line of Mariposa serving items. The White Egret also offers a custom floral design service for all occasions.
The Egret’s Nest right next door is appropriately named, since it carries an extensive inventory of infant and children’s clothes in its Grammy’s Corner. Jaeger says The Egret’s Nest “just rocks” because of all the different products offered. It carries Mary Frances handbags, greeting cards, some jewelry and footwear, and, of course, Island-inspired casual clothes. The inventory is always being updated and changes with the seasons.
Jaeger’s newest shop, The Egret’s Landing in Holmes Beach which opened in July of last year, came about as an extension of her home decorating business. On display are a variety of furniture styles in all price ranges including coastal casual and Key West, as well as more refined and formal pieces. Jaeger calls this shop a boutique furniture store carrying Tommy Bahama by Lexington, Stanley, Braxton and Clayton Marcus, among others, in addition to some really special accent pieces. The Egret’s Landing also offers design and installation for custom window treatments, including shutters, blinds and drapery, with hundreds of fabrics to choose from.
And if owning and operating three successful retail shops and overseeing 12 employees isn’t enough to keep Jaeger busy, she has expanded her home decorating business operating out of The Egret’s Landing location. She works both on and off the Island, and encourages her clients to mix grandma’s table right in with coastal furniture to find the most comfortable fit for their lifestyle. She also maintains an off island warehouse containing furniture deliveries for both the shop and clients.
Barbara Jaeger loves the hunt and is not afraid to take risks in her choices. She does all the buying herself, which shows in her hand picked inventory. Anyone who loves home decorating will get an instant high in Jaeger’s shops, the merchandise will play on your senses and appeal to your artistic eye. Her goal is to make her customers happy by keeping her product line fresh with an emphasis on special items not found elsewhere.
Giving back to the community is also important to Jaeger who supports the American Cancer Society, and has partnered with the Red Cross in decorating three homes for a charity tour of homes. Of course none of this could be accomplished without the ever present help and support of her husband John Jaeger, store managers and staff.
If you want to feel like Alice stepping through the looking glass, visit all three Egret locations. Your faith in fairy tales will be restored and you’ll understand why casual elegance is the hallmark of island living.