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BAY CITIES BANK BRANCHES OUT

More than seven years after opening its headquarters next to International Plaza, Bay Cities Bank finally has made the leap into South Tampa.

Since opening in November 1999, the bank has opened branches in St. Petersburg, Lutz and Carrollwood and at Race Track Road in North Tampa. It wasn't until July 10 that it ventured south of Kennedy, opening a branch in the 4,000-square-foot former AmSouth at 3902 W Henderson Blvd., near Watrous Avenue.

Greg Bryant, Bay Cities Bank president and chief executive, said the long-planned branch attracted $1-million in new deposits during the first week, thanks to targeted marketing and solicitations.

"We do have a number of directors and shareholders who live in South Tampa," Bryant said. "We think that will get us some traction in the area. ... Our goal is to build a footprint in Pinellas and Hillsborough that really allows us to service our target market."

Bay Cities Bank aims to serve "three niches," Bryant said: commercial real estate professionals, owner-managed companies with revenue of $15-million or less, and affluent individuals.

The bank has assets of $325-million and projects it will earn $2.5-million in 2007.

Bay Cities likely will eventually expand, Bryant said, but "we're content to be very selective," he said.

One-woman show

Audri Ross was still settling into her store at 2013 W Platt St. when her landlord bought out the rest of her lease and indicated there were other plans for the property.

So Ross, who has been designing floral arrangements for 15 years, decided to work out of her Carrollwood home, relying on only herself, her car and her established client list.

She made the move last week after nine months on Platt Street, which followed six years on S MacDill Avenue. Audri Co. retains the same telephone number: (813) 839-7866.

"Rent is extremely high down in South Tampa," Ross said. "I do a lot of phone business, party work and weddings. With the economy being what it is today, I feel it's not necessary for me to have the actual showroom/gift area.

"It's just me, myself and I - and we're going to keep on going," Ross said.

Less glitter on Howard

Not enough customers are dropping by the 22 Karat Treasures store at 500 S Howard Ave., so owner Burke Alevok is closing the shop this week. The regular customers who visit Marble Slab Creamery two doors down aren't usually in the market for jewelry, he said.

Other than the folks grabbing ice cream, "there's no foot traffic here," Alevok said.

The store, in the shopping center near Azeele Street and Howard, is open until Saturday, Alevok said. Many of the items are 75 percent off.

Do you know something that should be everybody's business? Call 226-3394 or e-mail sharonlginn@yahoo.com.

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