Veterans Day: Tampa General Store With A Mission

November 10, 2012 | By | Comments (11)
img 8794 Veterans Day: Tampa General Store With A Mission

Photo by Erin Shaw Street

This Veterans Day we’re thinking about all of the men and women who have served our country. We were reminded of this during a recent reporting trip to Tampa, Florida, where we found a general store on a mission.

Opened this fall, Brooksie’s Market is a place where locals can buy fresh-cut flowers, spices, and works by local artisans. Owner Michelle Brooks opened the store (in a Seminole Heights bungalow) to help fund her efforts to send encouraging care packages and cards to the troops.

Michelle left her job in Starbucks management to open the market, where she sells her own handmade greeting cards, as well as artwork, linens, and fresh produce. But you can usually find her in the side room, where she’s making cards for soldiers serving overseas.

“I wanted to send cards to support the troops, and didn’t see any that I loved, so I decided to make my own,” Michelle says. “I’d had a great life in corporate America, but at 50 I decided I had one more more chance. The cards are my chance to give back,” she says.

thank you Veterans Day: Tampa General Store With A Mission

Photo By Erin Shaw Street

Michelle brings her handmade cards to local elementary students, who write messages of encouragement to the troops. Working with groups like Semper Fi Sisters , the cards are enclosed in care packages and distributed to members of the military (all branches) serving around the world.

The messages are touching.

They are messages are also personal for Michelle. Her son Aaron, 23, is serving in Afghanistan. With each letter addressed, she thinks of him.

We salute Michelle — as a mom of a serviceman,  her work in supporting our troops, and for creating community in thanking those who protect our country.

To purchase handcrafted holiday cards that will be signed and sent to troops oversees, visit Brooksie’s Market  ($20/box). Brooksie’s Market is located at 5805 N. Florida Ave, (813)446-2187.


  1. jane dornsife

    the incredible Michelle Brooks, who tirelessly and happily cares for our troops in everyway possible makes these incredible cards by hand at her own expense. In fact, my granddaughter, Elizabeth and I just today took many cards and yellow ribbons Michelle made for the class to her teacher to ask permission for the second grade class to send the cards to the troops. The teacher thought it was a wonderful and touching idea and is certain the school principal will agree. Nothing is more loving than a note from a 7 year old to a member of the service keeping watch over us. These cards are remarkable, beautifully and lovingly handmade. Each one is unique and fabulous. We all need to send our love to our service men and woman, especially now with the holidays quickly on their way. Come on …get out there and get these reasonably priced cards and show our troops we appreciate their sacrifices on our behalf and also show Michelle what a wonderful angel she is.

    November 12, 2012 at 3:14 pm
  2. Billie Raines

    I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Veterans Day than to donate Christmas cards for our service men & woman. Hope you will join me today in support of Michelle’s program. She is an inspiration!

    November 12, 2012 at 10:58 am
  3. Erin Shaw Street

    Thank you for your comments. It’s remarkable to think of all the lives that have been touched because of Michelle’s vision. We appreciate everyone who has served and is serving our country — and their families!

    November 12, 2012 at 9:24 am
  4. Mark Goujon

    Michelle has a huge heart! Receiving mail while deployed means so much to our troops! It was especially touching to me when I was deployed to receive art and greeting cards from children who hadn’t even met me but took the time to write me. Michelle is leading an awesome cause!

    November 12, 2012 at 6:42 am
  5. Michelle Brooks

    Making cards is the easy part. Sending them and writing them is no sweat. Those on the receiving end have the most incredibly difficult job and we should all do a little something more to support them. I am so grateful to those who support me as I do my tiny part to help.

    November 11, 2012 at 8:38 pm
  6. deesantics

    I’ve known this amazing Michelle for years. When she told me of the cards, I was in. i was away when she first received them back from the school. I knew by her facebook posts that she was sitting there knee deep in the cards and her tears thinking of her son. When i returned, i visited the boutique with my daughter. Michelle pulled out the cards for us to see and we all cried together. It was so touching and it felt so amazing to be a part of this experience. I’m so thankful for the men and women who serve for our country, the sacrifices their families make and for people like Michelle that will not let a day pass without showing her appreciation and passion to give back. There arent enough words to say thank you.

    November 11, 2012 at 8:31 pm
  7. Vanessa Fowlkes

    I loved the idea of sending cards to our troops but actually getting around to doing it may have never happened until I found out about Michelle’s cards. All I had to do was send the money and she did all the work. Thank you, Troops! Thank you, Michelle!

    November 11, 2012 at 8:29 pm
  8. Lee Ann Stedman

    Michelle and her cards for the troops are such an inspirations. I made a donation and I know that each card is sent with the love of a soldier’s mom. She’s not just praying for and supporting her son, she has a genuine love and concern for all of the troops overseas. Although we have never met in person, over the last few months Michelle has become a dear friend.

    November 11, 2012 at 8:24 pm
  9. Diane Putnam

    Michelle has always had the biggest heart! So proud to be among her many friends and admirers.

    November 11, 2012 at 8:21 pm
  10. Brian Kakuk

    A great thing to see someone giving back to our verterans! Best of luck to Michelle Brooks in her efforts!

    November 11, 2012 at 8:08 pm
  11. Joe

    I love her cards! I’ve ordered them (since I’m in VA), and I’ve sent them to friends serving in Afghanistan as well as Stateside.

    November 11, 2012 at 8:00 pm

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