Lake Mary, deemed by Money magazine last year as the No. 4 city in America, may have just added to its standing.
The city’s downtown district recently added a new group of shops that many hope will be part of a new downtown hub for the city.
The latest addition to the downtown district is along 4th Street, next to city hall and Central Park. The shops were developed, built and filled by Shaw Construction & Management Services Inc. owner Terry Shaw.
Included in the building are Morris Market, Coastal Gifts and Décor, Sophie & Trey, The Living Difference and Michelle Stromberg Photography.
“Eventually we would like a hub where people can live, work and play,” said John Omana, Lake Mary community development director.
The master plan, which was approved by commissioners in 2001, would allow families to shop, run errands, exercise, work and attend events within a small downtown area. Although a proposed commuter rail has remained a part of this vision, Omana said the commission will move forward with the master plan, even if SunRail does not come.
“We want families not to have to depend on a car so much,” said Omana. “This is a concept the commission has really embraced over the years.”
It’s a concept Shaw has embraced also. Since he owns much of the land surrounding city hall, Shaw has worked with the city commission to change plans and codes to make downtown more developer-friendly.
“The city has worked closely with him [Shaw] in modifying and upgrading the codes for downtown,” said Omana.
In addition to modifying the codes, Shaw also stands out as the main developer for area. Besides his newest building, Shaw also owns a strip of shops in front of city hall, which contains a restaurant, salon and yoga studio.
The new shops
Owners Jonathan and Amy Morris opened Morris Market after they said the area needs locally and organically grown produce. The two started out farming in Belle Glade and used to truck their produce to the area every weekend for different farmers markets.
Their permanent shop in Lake Mary offers local, fresh produce along with other locally made goodies such as honey and coffee. Fresh bread is brought in from Old Heart Bakery in Casselberry every other day and soon the market will also sell fresh cuts of meat.
Amy Morris said the market will eventually be full service, offering spices, flowers, cookies and other essentials. The market will also eventually have a deli section and juice bar.
Coastal Gifts and Décor
Owner Patti Sahadi began with an online business selling coastal-themed gifts such as purses, flip flops and jewelry. In her shop now, Sahadi offers one-of-kind handmade jewelry, women’s accessories, hand-stitched linen, gourmet food and home accents.
Sahadi said her products make great gifts for anyone. She said most people who shop at the store comment on the cheerful colors of everything she sells.
Some of her favorite products, and best sellers, are tropical-themed hand painted Adirondack chairs.
Sophie & Trey
Owners Kristen and Ryan Shaw wanted to create a clothing store for downtown Lake Mary that was different but stylish. Their name, Sophie & Trey, came from the description of their clothing, “sophisticated and trendy.”
The Lake Mary residents carry unique brands for men and women. Most of their clothing comes from up-and-coming designers in Los Angeles and New York.
Clothing in the shop ranges from $10 to $70, making it fashionable and affordable, they say.
The Living Difference
Owner Julia Schneider has been running a wholesale nursery in Lake Mary for more than 25 years. In her shop downtown, Schneider offers indoor tropical plants, pottery and rare orchids.
Schneider said unlike the larger nurseries and home-improvement stores, customers get a personal experience at The Living Difference. She said she makes sure each customer receives the correct product and that they know how to take care of it.
In addition to the plants and pottery, The Living Difference also offers landscape design.
Michelle Stromberg Photography
Owner Michelle Stromberg offers one-on-one sessions with clients for unique photos.
For her shoots, Stromberg offers outfitting and backdrops to suit many tastes. Once a customer’s photos are ready, she can make photo albums, brag books, cards and portrait jewelry.
Before a shoot, customers are allowed a free consultation.
The Shaw Experience
Unlike other construction companies, Shaw offers an all-inclusive business deal to his tenants. For each of his buildings he chooses tenants individually and helps them with a build out and running their business.
His daughter, Ryan, who has a master’s degree in finance from Rollins College, assists each shop owner to make sure their finances are in order. She also co-owns Sophie & Trey and manages all of Shaw’s buildings.
Amy Morris said, “They [the Shaw’s] have been great. Ryan always comes in to help out on her free time. She helps us get everything together.”
Shaw asked the Morris’ to make a permanent stay in Lake Mary after they sold produce at the Lake Mary Farmers Market each week.
“We’ve had a great response here and it gets better every day,” said Amy Morris.
Schneider also moved from the farmers market to the permanent shop.
“I was going to the farmers market every Saturday when Terry asked if I’d join the group over here. We’ve done pretty good so far,” said Schneider.
Other shop owners decided to open in the building because of its location. Sahadi said the area is someplace her clientele would shop.
“I’m a longtime resident of the area and it seemed like a great opportunity to open my shop here,” said Sahadi.
Besides the five shops already open, a sweet shop will also open in a month in the new building.
Additionally, Shaw plans to build another set of shops farther down 4th Street by early next year.