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Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014
Plant City Courier

Herban Cowboy shop rides again in Plant City

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PLANT CITY - Since the Herban Cowboy first rode into town in 1997, Andrew Connell's store has shifted all over Plant City's historic downtown district.

The business - which offers herbs, essential oils, clothing and jewelry - celebrated the opening of its most recent location, 114 W. Reynolds St., with a ribbon cutting ceremony earlier this month.

"It was incredible seeing so many old friends and old customers," Connell said.

Although Connell, 54, and his family are from Tampa, he was living in Houston when he got the idea for Herban Cowboy. A friend of his owned a shop called Lucia's Garden, which offered herbs, cooking classes and other fragrant delights.

"I went there, I attended a couple of classes, and I eventually worked as an apprentice," Connell said.

Connell - who previously worked as a banker for 15 years -returned to Florida due to his mother's failing health, and opened the first Herban Cowboy store opened in 1997 at 102 W. Reynolds St., a few doors down from the current location. At the time, the store offered herbs, essential oils and classes in making soap and potpourri.

"It was great and something new for Plant City at the time," Connell said. "It really exceeded my expectations."

He also didn't have to work too hard to come up with the ideal name for his business.

"I'm no cowboy at all, but I lived in Houston in the '80s, and that movie was very popular," Connell said of the nod to the 1980 John Travolta drama "Urban Cowboy."

Two years after opening, Herban Cowboy moved to a location near the former home of the Olde Village Shoppes. Connell also added the Rosemary Room Cafe, which offered tofu and other healthy foods.

But it was during the business' stint behind The Whistle Stop Cafe that Connell changed the name of the cafe to Andrew's on the Park.

"I figured that I'd never have a street named after me, so a cafe was the next best thing," Connell said.

At the end of 2002 he sold the restaurant and moved his Herban Cowboy business into his home, which is also located in the historic downtown district. He also began teaching kindergarten at Palm River Elementary in Tampa.

"My aunt was a teacher for 47 years, and she had told me they were looking for subs," he said. "I'm not sure I could've done it coming out of college, but there's just something special to me now about teaching."

However, after a decade of teaching and running the Herban Cowboy out of his home, Connell decided it was time to have a brick and mortar store again.

The current location opened in February, and Connell added jewelry and clothes to his store's repertoire.

"He's very well known for everything he's done in the past," said Nikki McAlpine, membership director for the Plant City Chamber of Commerce. "His stuff is very cute and reasonably priced. I think it's going to be a staple in the area."

With school off during the summer, Connell has been able to spend even more time at Herban Cowboy these past two months. He's pleased with the way the latest iteration of his business has been received and he's happy to be able to work

"I feel like I've already made my mistakes, I've learned from them, and I've grown," he said. "And the people of Plant City have been amazing."

For information on Herban Cowboy and schedules for its various evening classes, call (813) 704-1376.

jceballos@tampatrib.com

(813) 731-8120

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