Isabel Merritt is the owner, buyer, and visionary for Isabel Fine Home Accessories in South Miami. Celebrating her 25th year at the same location at 7334 Red Road (“Blue Mall”), Isabel spoke about the timing of the shop’s opening.
“Yes, I opened in July, and Hurricane Andrew arrived in August,” said Isabel. Andrew, a Category 5 hurricane, brought massive destruction to south Miami-Dade County and saw the evacuation of over 700,000 people trying to outrun the first hurricane of 1992. Many were driven from their homes; most of the county was without electric power for three weeks or more. In other words, it was a tough time to launch a new business.
The devastation and losses caused by Andrew did not dissuade Isabel. She stayed the course with her cozy 700 square foot shop and developed a successful business in home accessories and giftware.
Before opening the shop, Isabel was working as a paralegal for a personal injury attorney when her brother suggested that she follow her real passion to create the kind of store she had always envisioned. At the time, she had also been operating the Consignment House on Miller Road and Bird Road. In 1992 she took the plunge and opened Isabel Fine Home Accessories.
Fashioning the kind of retail business she wanted seemed to come naturally. Creativity and a good eye ran in the family.
“My grandmother and my mother were involved in the antiques and home accessories business,” said Isabel.
Isabel’s buying philosophy is rooted in the basic criteria that she only stocks items she would want for her own home. She likes the unexpected, design with character, and goods from exotic and unusual markets. Items with positive and upbeat sayings are featured at the shop. The prices are affordable and what she sells is appealing and attractive.
“I like to showcase minimally designed objects that are not just pretty things. I stock beautiful things that have many purposes and are decorative in nature,” said Isabel.
Isabel has been a participating merchant of SOMIartwalk© since its inception in 2007. The event coordinator, SOMI Magazine publisher John Edward Smith, brings artists and musicians together with area merchants to showcase the unique qualities of South Miami’s shopping and dining district. The event is held the second Friday of the month from October to March. Artists featured in Isabel’s shop include painters, photographers, and jewelers. By pairing artwork with her unique accessories, Isabel provides aesthetic inspiration to her patrons and brings new clientele into the shop.
“I have a lot of lovely, repeat customers perhaps because I change the merchandise often. I am happy to look for items that my customers request of me,” said Isabel.
Remarking on 25 years in the same location, Isabel said, “South Miami is the only place I want to be. It still has that small town feeling.”