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Shore Regional Graduate Opens New Business in Oceanport

Owners Sherry Byram and Shore Regional graduate Lianne Pragosa have deep roots in town and hope that their new shop is the start of Main Street's transformation.

Mix all of the stylish home accents and accessories you see in the Ballard Design catalog with great prices and you get Sparrow, a charming new store that opened last month in Oceanport Plaza by long-time borough residents.

Think topiaries and botanical prints, mercury glass votives and straw handbags. And then wrap it all up in burlap for good measure.

The mother-daughter team of Sherry Byram and Shore Regional graduate Lianne Pragosa have assembled a fun mix of goodies for the home with gifts, jewelry, handbags, children-swear and invitations right in the heart of what they hope is to become a thriving retail destination over the next few years.

"There was never any doubt about where we'd open," says Byram of the long-standing strip mall in town that sits next to a new retail office complex that's set to open early next year. "This place has so much potential," she says of the East Main Street location.

The two also have deep connections to Oceanport. Charles Park was named for Byram's great-grandfather and her father was a former police chief in town. "My dad's family has been in Oceanport over 100 years," Byram, who still lives in town, says.

Although Byram says she only started "kicking the idea around" about 10 months ago, her interest in home decorating is nothing new.

"She has a beautiful home," says her daughter, the kind where she experiments with burlap and paint colors. "My mom is the kind of person who discovers things about six months before every one else learns about them."

The store also allows Pragosa, who lives with her husband and two young sons in Allenhurst, a flexible work schedule to spend time with the boys.

They envision Sparrow as a go-to shopping destination for bridal shower or birthday gifts and think being just a few doors down from Mia's will also bring in customers looking for last-minute presents.

Sparrow's owners are also excited about their custom invitation line featuring cards for everything from baby showers to "cupcakes and cocktails" gatherings. "I just don't do wedding invitations," says Pragosa, "I'm not ready for that."

"When you customize on the Internet, what you see is what you get," she says. Ordering through Sparrow allows customers to "let someone else do all the work," Pragosa adds.

Byram is just back from a buying trip at a home show in Philadelphia and says the store will be adding more seasonal items and lines that customers have requested.

Their grand opening on Dec. 6 was pretty much a gathering of Oceanport families that have lived in the borough for decades, says Byram. "We really support each other," she adds.

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