Sean and Celesta Carter are the cheerful owners of Paper Street Market. Always fun and funky, their shop is filled with hand-picked curiosities, industrial salvage and repurposed furniture. They recently moved into a 1927 Mediterranean home in Old Northeast St. Petersburg. In addition they have opened the wildly successful Brocante Market where they collaborate with other local vintage sellers in an exciting, monthly vintage flea market sale.
What is special about Paper Street Market? Paper Street Market reflects our style and our passion. Celesta and I are genuine pickers and our thumbprint is on everything…we personally select, design and make everything you see in the store. It’s a hip, ever-changing assortment of vintage, industrial, antique and re-purposed items. Everything we sell is one-of-a-kind!
How did Paper Street Market begin? PSM started out of the need to furnish our first house together and our love for picking. When we were done with the house we just kept picking! Eventually we started selling things online and in antique malls. In 2010 we decided that in order to properly convey our style and our brand, we needed our own bricks-and-mortar space. We created a store that we would want to shop at.
You started the store in the recession and have even expanding to a new larger location. What’s the secret to your success? Celesta: We have always been blessed with a fantastic staff. Sean and I both have full-time jobs so since we aren’t there during the week, we have to rely on our people to run the shop and represent it the way we would. It’s our amazing team that keeps things going. In addition, we treat our customers the way we would want to be treated when we shop. Regardless of how cool your stuff is, people buy from people they like. We make sure each and every one of our customers knows how much we appreciate them and their business. Sean: I think one of the effects of the recession is that people began wanting well-made, good quality things at a reasonable price. Old things have an intrinsic value you just cannot get from something brand new.
Where are you from and what brought you to Tampa Bay? Sean: I was born in Alaska. We moved to Seattle when I was sixteen. After college I came to visit my grandmother in Tampa. I really liked what I saw and decided to move here in 2000. Celesta: I am a mid-westerner and grew up in Kansas. I was working in the Caribbean when 9/11 happened and my job in hospitality dried up. I needed to move but I still wanted to live in a place with warm weather and sunshine. Sean and I met at work and we got married in 2007.
Last fall you moved from South Tampa to the Old Northeast in St. Petersburg. What has surprised you about the Old Northeast? Sean: Halloween around here is insane! Everyone is so into it. The decorations are wild! Last year we gave out over 1,500 pieces of candy. Celesta: The birds in this neighborhood are crazy loud! I had to sleep with ear plugs for the first month we lived here.
Name four of your favorite objects in your house. People assume that our house is filled with stuff we find but we very rarely bring something home! The original light fixture in our dining room has serpents on it–we inherited it with the house. Our coffee table which is an authentic Civil War-era carpenter’s trunk. The old postal sorter which we use as a wine rack and our foyer table made from reclaimed horse jumping posts.
Where might we find you hanging out on a Saturday night? At HOME! After working all week and then running PSM during our busy Saturdays, we just enjoy hanging on the couch with our dogs, Kansas and Sophie, for the night.
Tell us some of your favorite places on Central Avenue. We are big foodies and we reward ourselves for working hard by treating ourselves to good meals, so several of them are restaurants. Burg Bar is our standard crash place after a long night painting/working at the shop. Mandarin Hyde- when we do go out, this is our must-stop place. We love the mixology and the intimate, moody setting. Misred Outfitters- Sarah is always there to help me when I’m in a fashion pinch! La Creperia Cafe- we love Sunday morning crepes. We were so excited when they brought their concept to St. Pete. They serve them out of an old Airstream trailer!
What has owning a store taught you? Celesta: I think that the biggest learning experience for us has been how to work with and run a business with your spouse. We have both learned new things about patience and respect for one another.
What advice would you give a would-be shop owner? Do your research, write a business plan, and account for lots of unexpected things–especially if you don’t have a retail background. There are so many things that come up that you would never think of.
Name three things you would miss if you left Tampa Bay. Our friends and customers we’ve met through PSM, seeing the dolphins jump in the bay when we cross the bridge, and our local sports teams…we love the Rays, the Lightning, and the Bucs!
Do you have a favorite weekend getaway in Florida? Our own backyard! Whenever we can get a couple days off we like to hang out, relax, and enjoy our home and surroundings.
What is the most fun you’ve ever had? We both love to travel and see new places. Whether it’s a picking trip for the shop in the Midwest or visiting other countries, we love learning about the history and stories of the places we go. We did a trip to Europe a couple years ago, and we got to attend the biggest wine festival in Hungary. It was one of the best things we’ve ever done.
What’s next? We take each day as it comes. That has yet to be determined!
Paper Street Market
915 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, Fl 33705