DAVIS ISLANDS — Kim Sprague learned the hard way how quickly the market for I-love-it-but-don't-need-it items can disappear.
Her Glass Reunions store opened at 233 E Davis Blvd. on Aug. 1, not long before a tanking stock market and impending layoffs forced a nationwide pullback in consumer spending. Sprague decided not to wait for the economy to improve; she closed the store at the end of March.
Sprague said her store, which carried work by more than 200 American glass artists, was fairly busy until the end of the holiday shopping season.
"We thought we were doing wonderfully," Sprague said. "Then January, February and March, we weren't even having people coming in. We'd go for days and not see a soul."
And those who did wander in often said they would return later when they had something specific to buy. "I was getting a lot of the 'be back' syndrome," Sprague said.
It was a different environment from what Sprague sees daily at her Key West store, which she opened 18 years ago on tourist-dependent Duval Street.
There, her traveling customers are quick to buy items they fear they won't see again. But on Davis Islands, where Sprague owns a home and is a part-time resident, "I think a lot of people are afraid" to splurge, she said. "It was a business decision all the way."
E Davis Blvd. Subway eatery closed for now
Meanwhile, down the street on Davis Islands at 304 E Davis Blvd., the busy Subway franchise that opened in 2003 has shut its doors.
The store closed a month ago. Company officials aren't divulging why it closed, or when it will be open again. "There's not a lot I can really say," said Jennifer Sanchez, director of operations for Subway Development of Tampa Bay. "It's our goal to get the store open as soon as possible."
Nancy Gregorio, co-owner of the building, said Subway officials told her the company will be "putting a new owner in there." Sanchez said the franchise had already changed ownership since opening six years ago.
Beer tavern on tap for Seminole Heights
Seminole Heights is a step closer to getting its own version of the Independent, a popular beer and wine tavern in downtown St. Petersburg that features upscale independent labels and an artsy feel.
The owners of the Independent, John and Veronica Vellines, closed last month on the property at 5016 N Florida Ave. in Seminole Heights. Renovations to the property are expected to begin soon, Veronica Vellines said.
'Mompreneurs' will gather for shopping
When she started her photography business three years ago, Nicole Geller learned how difficult it can be for a new business owner to market a product or service. Many "mompreneurs" — Geller's name for mothers who start their own businesses — don't have much of a budget left over for advertising.
Geller is trying to help them get the word out. She has gathered about 28 "mompreneurs" for a shopping event Saturday outside Giggle Box Couture at 3211 W Bay to Bay Blvd.
Participating in the six-hour event, which starts at 9 a.m., will be jewelry makers, clothing and shoe vendors, an embroiderer, a tutor, a representative of a kitchenware company, a maker of nontoxic cleaners and others. Geller also will do 15-minute photography sessions on site with children and pets. Donation boxes at the event will benefit the Spring, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay and the Children's Cancer Center.
"It's a great way (for vendors) to get their name out there without having to pay a huge amount of marketing expenses," Geller said. "I went crazy with my marketing budget the first year, but truly, if you have one happy customer, they're going to tell a million people, and that's the best (approach)."
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