Florida Keys Business
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Proper provisioning
Tucker's Provisions:Some of everything for anyone

From classy flasks and stylish sunglasses; to classic canvas totes, vintage tees and versatile scarves, Tucker's Provisions properly provides everything men, women and kids need.

Owner Kurt Matarazzo calls his latest venture "part general, part dry goods store," and says the shop "provides for fishing outings, beach days with family, first dates and 50th anniversaries."

And the brands Matarazzo carries let a shopper feel good about looking good.

The tags that hang from nearly all the merchandise describe companies with a conscience.

Every purchase of a classically classy backpack, tote bag and duffel by United By Blue, along with their devastatingly soft cotton clothing, helps fund the removal of trash from the world's oceans.

Opposite the bags, sleeveless dresses by MATA Traders, priced at less than $100, beckon in blue. A quick glance at the tag teaches the customer that "mata" means "mother" in Hindi, and the company is dedicated to empowering women, especially in India and Nepal.

MATA Traders is committed to fair trade practices that ensure impoverished women in those countries are earning earn fair wages for their textile work.

On another wall inside Tucker's Provisions, beach bags are made from recycled rice and grain bags.

In short, neither people nor their planet were harmed in the production of the clothes and other products that line the walls and fill the shelves at Tucker's Provisions, a store reminiscent of a different era in a different town -- before frozen drinks and four-day cruises descended on Duval Street.

"The scarcity of paved roads meant little, as few people owned cars ... They walked, or they rode bicycles with no locks. They spent hours porch-sitting; kept chickens; caught fish and harvested conch," Matarazzo states in his online description of the shop, reminding people that in the 1940s, the area now considered Old Town was actually all of Key West.

"Out of this confident post World War II Key West, Tucker's Provisions rose. Today, it's where a wardrobe is still well-made, low-maintenance and not about the labels. It's where to find the perfect flask, comfortable canvas shows and a wristwatch to rely on," said Matarazzo, who also owns the Jake's Key shop on Duval Street, home of the "Life is good" logo.

Matarazzo was also an owner, years ago, of Cole's Peace artisan bakery on Eaton Street,

Tucker's Provisions opened about a month ago and has been provisioning locals and tourists from day one.

Oh, and the free beer, bottled water and seats are a guy's godsend. An antique Coca Cola cooler holds cold bottle of Bud Light, Corona and water.

"They're free, help yourself," employees offer -- to customers with proper ID, that is.

While his counterpart browses, tries on, discards, browses again and finally decides, a husband or boyfriend kicks back with a cold one and flips through a magazine.

That sigh of contentment -- that exclamation of delight issuing from a fitting room when a woman finds the perfect dress -- that's what it's all about.

mmiles@keysnews.com

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