By Debbie Flessner
"Good morning, welcome to the Silver City!"
The friendly greeting floats across the small south Siesta shop, where the employees treat customers like family.
For 10 years, Monica Galfre and her husband George Rysko have owned the jewelry store, which carries a wide variety of handmade sterling silver and gold pieces. Both of them had worked in various types of retail for about 28 years when they first moved to the Suncoast 14 years ago and began trying to decide what sort of shop might be successful in this location.
"We wanted a 'beachy' store, and I have always liked silver," Galfre said. "We actually opened the day of Hurricane Wilma, on October 13, and we had good day because people were tired of sitting in their condos and waiting for the storm to pass."
Since that day, the couple's little Siesta shop has become the go-to place for unique, handmade jewelry, and they have even designed and created their own proprietary gemstone. The Siesta Key Watercolor Gemstone has a lovely green/blue hue and can be placed in a variety of settings in sterling silver or gold.
Debra Lewis, marketing director at Silver City, says that the stone reflects the colors and feel of our island paradise.
"Our sand out here is almost 100 percent quartz, and that's what we use to make the stone," she said. "Then we slice it in half and infuse the color."
When Siesta Key sand is taken off the beach for commercial use, it must be legally acquired, which is what Lewis says Silver City is careful to do correctly. They also use Siesta sand in their "Dune" line, in which the sugar white sand is clearly visible.
Exclusive pieces like these are not only beautiful jewelry, they can also be keepsakes to be passed down for generations, or held close as a fond memory from a special vacation.
In this, their 10th year of doing business on Siesta Key, it is only fitting that Silver City will be displaying and selling some of their unique sand-based pieces at November's Siesta Key Crystal Classic International Sand Sculpting Festival from November 13 to 17. The popular event typically draws more than 35,000 visitors over the five-day period the sculptures are created and displayed.
But Galfre says more than just travelers to the Key, it is her local clientele who have enabled her to stay in business here for so long, through the ups and downs of the Florida economy. She said she loves having her shop on south Siesta.
"Our customer is a happy customer, and they like the fact that it is a family business," she said. "People are drawn to us because they know that we are honest."
Those loyal customers can expect to receive an invitation from the shop to come in and join a 10th anniversary celebration in the next couple of months. And anyone who walks into the store and "checks in" on Facebook or tags themselves in the store, can receive 10 percent off their purchase.
Silver City is located at 6539 Midnight Pass Road, and is open Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit the website at www.silvercitysarasota.com or the Facebook page at Silver City Sarasota. The phone number is 941-349-5030.