In recent history the word 'expansion' was all but removed from an entrepreneur's vocabulary. Times have changed and some Mount Dora favorites are not only thriving, but expanding.
Crissy Stiles, owner of Barrel of Books & Games is doubling-down in downtown with plans to open a new comic book store in the coming weeks. Alleyway Comics will open in the adjacent space to the bookstore on Dora Drawdy alley in September.
Similarly, the owners of Walk in the Woods store, Roy & Jacqui Gress, are retail veterans and believe in the viability of downtown for a new business. The couple just opened Blue Sky Blue Water, a store catering to the Florida lifestyle, on 4th Avenue next to The Lost Parrot.
"We felt the time was right to expand in the downtown area based on the niches that were not being filled in town," said Jacqui Gress. "Also the perfect space and opportunity to do so all came together at the same time!"
Retail isn't the only business category with growing locations in Mount Dora. The continued high demand for their services is the impetus for the expansion of Wallace Fitness, according to co-owner Sine Wallace. The facility's larger Donnelly Street digs will be completed by September 10 to accommodate more clients and new equipment.
"We wanted to have more room to conduct educational and fitness classes, as well as keeping up with the demand for our specialized skill set", said Wallace regarding the reasons for the expansion.
Three other downtown businesses have decided to expand by testing other waters with their decisions to open new stores on Florida's west coast.
"Looking closely at Sarasota, I found it is growing and the downtown is going through a renovation much like Mount Dora," said Clara Schneider, who purchased Emz on 5th boutique in 2006.
Schneider will be opening a new women's apparel store in Sarasota in partnership with a former colleague.
A Mount Dora favorite for the last eight years, Cupcake Delights, is also expanding to the west.
"We have visited Anna Maria for the past 12 years and it's where my husband and I want to retire," said owner, Judy Owens of her decision to open a new location on the Island this fall. "It's a huge tourist and wedding destination."
Meanwhile, Doug Thompson, owner of Mount Dora Olive Oil Company is busy with the construction of his new Tarpon Springs Olive Oil Company to open this fall on the Sponge Docks.