Spring 2021

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160 Spring 2021 IN RETROSPECT Always in Fashion After 35 years, Jezebel is still the ultimate purveyor of funky glamour in Fort Lauderdale. BY ELYSSA GOODMAN WE DARE YOU NOT TO SMILE upon walking into Jezebel. Opened by Mary Ptak in 1986, the store is known for "great cards," "fun gifts" and "funky stuff," as advertised on its storefront window, but it has also long served as a beacon of quirky, counterculture glamour. Just look to the shop's mascot, perched on a painting located just outside its doors: a lady with long, luscious locks riding a lobster, a relic from a 1930s Miami restaurant. "We don't carry the same things that every other store carries... I've been known to sell everything from sinks to funky bikes," Ptak says. "I'm like that in my life: There's no one set thing I like. I just have a feel for it. I know what I pick isn't right for every store. We're a little sarcastic, and we don't take anything too seriously." Ptak was born in Gouverneur, New York, and moved to Fort Lauderdale in 1973. After attending art school, she found herself in a place career-wise she no longer wanted to be. Long interested in vintage clothing, she used her art background to curate an experience for Jezebel. The shop began its journey in three different locations on Wilton Drive but ultimately settled on its current venue in 1990 at 1980 E. Sunrise Blvd. in the Gateway Shopping Center. Vintage clothing used to be a huge part of Jezebel's repertoire, with pieces dating all the way back to the 1700s that would sometimes get pulled by celebrity stylists and costume designers. Ptak recalls crews from movies like 1996's "Striptease" starring Demi Moore and 2001's "Ali" starring Will Smith coming in to gather garments for their productions. She even remembers acquiring outts from KC and the Sunshine Band, pieces that were eventually purchased by a buyer in England. Ptak has since pivoted Jezebel's inventory to focus on fun and funky gifts, but her signature style still shines with joyful, glittery, vintage- inspired, sassy, unconventional goods from across the country, often from mom-and-pop brands. Items for sale include hand soaps labeled with sayings like "No one likes your dirty ngers," glassware encrusted with rhinestone amingos, Freddie Mercury ornaments, beaded fruit change purses, masks hand-painted with drawings of dogs, Day of the Dead playing cards, and so much more. "I just try to make the store a little pleasant place to shop," Ptak says. "I think a lot of people can't imagine Fort Lauderdale without Jezebel. We're an institution at this point." v Opened in 1986, Jezebel's small business model included showcasing quirky, out-of-the-box wares and goods.

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