PALMA CEIA — After years of designing for her clients' homes and offices, Ashley Russell knows that a serendipitous find can be just as fun to buy as a custom-made piece. And sometimes, it's easier on the wallet.
So Russell, who owns the Paris Flea furnishings and design store at 3109 W Bay to Bay Blvd. with her daughter Melanie Rose, plans to trot out a slightly different concept later this year. Think — yes — the classic flea markets of Paris.
Russell's current location will become a high-end consignment shop for antiques and other fine pieces. The building she just purchased across the street at 3204 W Bay to Bay Blvd. will become a custom furnishings store where she will also continue to sell new lines of furniture from manufacturers. Both will have the Paris Flea flair.
"Given that we have a 14-year reputation, people are comfortable with us," Russell said. "They know we know what we are doing, and that we have great taste."
Russell acknowledges that expanding her business at a time when many other stores are folding is a bold move. But she said she needed the space in the new building for her custom furnishings business. Since she also holds a lease at the current location, she said she decided to "make the best of it."
The current location will be called Paris Flea Market, and will be similar to the original Paris Flea, which in its early days focused on antiques and sold items on consignment.
"We know there is a market for it, because we get requests," Russell said. "(Consignment stores) are the leader in the industry right now."
No firm date for the change has been set, but renovations to the building across the street have begun and the current store recently started a moving sale.
Post SoHo Square on hold
The luxury apartment complex planned for the corner of Howard and Swann avenues is still on hold, though developer Post Properties pulled permits for the project two weeks ago in hopes of breaking ground as soon as the market shows signs of a turnaround.
Anthony M. Everett, director of Florida investments for Atlanta-based Post Properties, said the 192-unit Post SoHo Square, which will be built on the former site of Whiskey Park and will include retail space, has not been abandoned. Everett said he is keeping his fingers crossed that the federal stimulus package will make a difference.
"The hope is the economy will improve enough for us to go ahead and build the project," Everett said. "We're waiting for the market to show us something that will indicate there will be demand for apartments once they are built."
The permits are good for six months, though Everett said he has asked the mayor's office to consider granting extensions during the recession.
Quiet by day, Fly by night
Fly, the restaurant and bar at 1202 N Franklin St. downtown, has decided to shut its doors at lunchtime.
That doesn't mean the restaurant is in trouble, said general manager David Bromberg.
"People are brown bagging their lunch," Bromberg said, "and we're a little bit off the beaten path. … It came down to the fact that it was really hit or miss at lunch."
Business has been otherwise good at Fly, said Bromberg, so the focus is now on happy hour, dinner and late night customers. Lunch hours should return once the economy improves, he said.
The decision to keep the restaurant open only during the more profitable hours also has meant no employees have been laid off. "We didn't want to do that," Bromberg said. "By cutting our hours, we were able to keep our employees and not change our mission."
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