Make and takes: Something different to do

By Kristin Ely

Ornament and furniture-making workshops bring in customers in Mexico Beach, Florida.

Social activities in Mexico Beach, Florida, have been pretty sparse over the last few years. The quaint town on Florida’s panhandle suffered major damage from Hurricane Michael in 2018 and hotels are still being rebuilt. The colorful retail shops that look like little houses lining the boardwalk managed to barely miss the storm surge. Ashley and James Taunton decided Mexico Beach would be a good place to set up James’ construction business and purchased one of these iconic buildings for it.

Town covenants required retail to be part of the business enterprise so the back of the building houses James’ construction company, while the store at the front, aptly named Seagreen Salvage & Co., is run by Ashley. The couple fixed the house up and painted it a bright sea green.

Ornamental fun

Coastal neutral home decor, gifts, souvenirs, jewelry, lighting, books, candles and soaps are among the wares that can be found inside the charming store.

“When I set up the store I thought about the things I like to buy when I go on vacation,” says Ashley. “I focus on higher end and nicer things that you’d want to buy to remember your vacation but that don’t necessarily say Mexico Beach.”

"Take and makes provide a different type of activity for people of all ages. People also buy the paint that is used in the craft projects."

Ashley named the store Seagreen Salvage & Co. because she also refinishes furniture. The store carries Fusion brand mineral paint, which she uses in the refinishing projects and for workshops she hosts inside the store.

“My workshops tend to focus around the Fusion mineral paint,” Ashley says. For the kickoff of the holiday season, Ashley hosts a holiday event where customers can come in and enjoy some Christmas cookies and other treats, special sales and make an ornament to take home with them.

“I’ve done wood slice ornaments and wood beads. Wood beads are on trend,” she says.

Seagreen Salvage carries coastal home decor and gifts.
Photos: Amiee Vangelder
The first ornament workshop was held outside on the patio, but Ashley has rearranged the store to focus more on the paint and created space in the back of the store near the paint for the workshops.

Customers purchase make and take tickets, which usually cost $8 to $10 to cover the cost of materials. Ashley elicits the help of family members direct the workshops. There is a station for each step of the ornament making process: stenciling, adding the bow, adding the wood beads, etc. Ashley cuts all the stencils out using a vinyl cutting machine. Popular stencils are ones that say Mexico Beach. “2020, the year we stayed home” was another popular one from that year.

“All my best days in business have been ornament workshop days,” says Ashley. “It brings in a lot of interest, and I usually have a sale with it.”

Adults and kids alike got in on the action. “We have people of all ages.” The take and make days get as many as 30 people coming in and out of the shop throughout the day.

Painting the town

Ashley has also begun hosting furniture workshops, which are ticketed after hours events. People bring a small piece of furniture and she’ll walk them through the steps of how to refinish it.

Ashley is considering offering additional workshops like wooden stenciled signs, painting linen pillowcases, canvas wall hangings and other “Pinterest type crafts” that would be on trend for spring, fall and summer.

“It really does help me sell the paint, too,” she says.

Customers enjoy making wood slice ornaments to take home.
The make and take workshops also offer a fun activity that people living or visiting can’t find anywhere else in the area. “We don’t have a lot of things like that to do here,” says Ashley about the town, fondly nicknamed Mayberry on the Beach by locals. “It’s a nice activity for people to come out and do that’s something different.”

Ashley left her teaching job three years ago to help her husband with his business and to have more time with her then three-year old daughter. When the hurricane hit and the Tauntons bought the shop, Ashley had a lot to learn, so she was fine with the slow pace caused by the hurrican and subsequent pandemic.

“It’s okay that Mexico Beach was a ghost town when it first opened because I’m building my business as the town builds back,” explains Ashley. Since Seagreen Salvage & Co. began, Ashley has only been keeping the store open three or four days a week, but she hopes by summer 2022 to be open every day with make and takes a more regular part of the schedule.