Nutcracker Boutique includes affordable gifts that benefit Saint Augustine Ballet

By Ed Albanesi

Have you ever gone to a play, concert or sporting event and noticed the extra “stuff” they sell in the lobby costs about three times what it’s worth? And sometimes you buy it anyway.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could go to a show and find competitively priced “stuff” that meets a need and is something you might have purchased elsewhere?

Well, meet the Nutcracker Boutique, a two-day lobby kiosk, now in it’s seventh year accompanying the St. Augustine Ballet Nutcracker.

“Our daughter dances in The Nutcracker and we wanted to do something to ensure the Ballet would be financially sustainable from year to year,” said Carol Albanesi. “We started small and things have sort of taken off since then.”

Albanesi spends most of the year buying Nutcracker-themed items from a variety of wholesale outlets. Much of it comes from New York-based Kurt Adler. Additionally she buys from Burton+Burton, Katherine’s Collection and others.

She also relies on several local suppliers. This will be the third year floral arrangements are being supplied (at cost) by Jade Violet Florist. This will be the first year Swillerbees Craft Donuts And Coffee Bar will have a lobby presence.

Local businesses including Salt Life Food Shack, Hues Hair Salon, Facial Rejuvenation Centre, Diamond Luster Detail and others have contributed items for three separate raffles, each with prizes worth in excess of $200.

“If you plan to buy a floral bouquet for one of the dancers you can save time and money by purchasing it at the Boutique,” suggests Albanesi. “Our $12 bouquet is professionally arranged and way prettier than you will find at the supermarket.”

Albanesi revealed that her house is packed with a variety of ornaments and other keepsake items that started arriving last January.

We have them stored in our spare bedroom, a walk-in closet, our garage and most other available spaces,” she said. “The Boutique offers us an opportunity to support the Ballet and free up some space, both good things.”

Luis Abella, director of the St. Augustine Ballet, appreciates what Albanesi and others in the community do to ensure The Nutcracker remains an annual event.

“We are fortunate to have several members in our community who put out a great deal of effort to support what we are doing,” said Abella. “Revenue from ticket sales is not sufficient to fund this annual production.”

The St. Augustine Ballet is a 501(c)3, non-profit organization. All donations you make to it are fully tax-deductible. Those interested in becoming a sponsor and supporting dance in our community can request a sponsor packet and more information  at

Abella is hopeful more individuals and businesses in the community will step forward and help keep The Nutcracker financially sustainable. And he believes shopping at the Nutcracker Boutique might be an excellent first step.

“You can help ensure the Saint Augustine Ballet Nutcracker remains an annual event by supporting the Boutique,” said Abella.

Although all are encouraged to purchase tickets to see The Nutcracker, you can shop at the Boutique even without a ticket. It will open one hour preceding each show and remain open for 30 minutes after the shows end. Passers-by are welcome to shop the Boutique, even without a Nutcracker ticket.

Performances of the St. Augustine Ballet Nutcracker are scheduled for Lewis Auditorium at Flagler College on Saturday, Dec. 16, and Sunday, Dec. 17.

The matinees begin at 1:30 p.m. (doors open at 12:30 p.m.) with evening performances beginning at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.).

Tickets to The Nutcracker can be purchased at

Tickets can also be purchased (depending on availability) in the lobby beginning one hour before each performance.

“If you need a beautiful Nutcracker-based Christmas ornament for that special child or even for yourself, I hope you will come by and view our extensive collection,” said Albanesi. “We have items no one else carries locally and I think you’ll find our prices are pretty good too.”


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