RIVERVIEW — A year ago, Juliet Wilks was opening a new shop and feeling cautiously optimistic about the future.
Six months later, Wilks and business partner Anne Nymark were marveling at how well the Ambiance Floral & Design Boutique was doing. The combination florist and interior design shop had caught on big with customers.
Then, all of a sudden, everything changed. Business died and expenses increased.
"It was like diving off the high board into the abyss," Wilks said.
Now Wilks and Nymark are hoping to recoup some of their losses by auctioning off everything in the shop — not just the stock, but the cash register and the walk-in cooler — to the highest bidders.
A public auction is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, just one week shy of what would have been the shop's first anniversary.
Some 250 items will be up for bid. That includes live plants, silk flowers, vases and candlesticks, accent furniture and home accessories. The least expensive items will likely sell for a few dollars. That 8-foot walk-in cooler cost Wilks and Nymark thousands, so they hope it will bring in a significant sum to help them recoup their losses.
Few individuals have need of an 8-foot walk-in cooler, so John Harris, the owner of Harris Auctions LLC, said he has contacted local florists to come out to the auction and take a look. Wilks said bakeries and restaurants might also be able to use it. Other florists and interior designers might also compete with individuals in bidding for the shop's stock.
Most of those 250 items will be geared toward individual consumers looking to spruce up their homes.
"The merchandise is absolutely beautiful," Harris said.
Wilks said she's still unable to figure out exactly why business turned so bad so quickly.
"The floral business is seasonal," she said. "That could be part of it. Maybe we had a lot of snowbirds as customers and they left Florida in May."
The long recession obviously hurt, too, she said. People aren't likely to buy flowers and home accessories if they're having trouble paying their mortgage and insurance bills.
The shop at Winthrop Town Centre had been paying a reduced rent for its first six months, Wilks said, and the rent went up to its normal rate right around the time business fizzled.
The auction is set to begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at 6120 Winthrop Town Centre Ave., next to the Acropolis Restaurant. Potential bidders can come as early as 8:30 a.m. to get a close look at the items for sale. Harris said everything should be auctioned off in about three hours.
For more details, call Harris Auctions at (813) 784-3926 or visit harrisauctionsllc.com.
If you know of something that should be Everybody's Business, please contact Marty Clear at mclear@tampa bay.rr.com