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By MARTHA SMITH
Special to the Standard
NORTH KINGSTOWN â€“ A large banner has gone up across the front of the former Wickford Flowers at 17 West Main St.: â€śReduced for Quick Sale.â€ť
The 6,200-square-foot commercial space includes a greenhouse and retail salesroom plus what the new sign calls an â€śattached two-bedroom luxury residence.â€ť
Once listed for sale or lease at $1.3 million and then lowered to $1.09 million, the price has been slashed and the property is now offered for $949,000 on the website of Prudential Gammons Realty.
The flower shop â€“ one of three floral enterprises formerly under the umbrella of the Schartner enterprises of Exeter and managed by Tim Schartner â€“ was purchased in April 2008 from the Greene family, proprietors of the Wickford establishment for a half-century. At the same time, the Schartners acquired the venerable Blossom Florist on Main Street, in East Greenwich, and the Clarke Flower Shop on the East Side of Providence.
The floral operations fell on hard financial times when Tim Schartnerâ€™s esoteric attempts to think outside the box were met with either indifference or outright hostility. He was further hampered by being delinquent on taxes and mortgages at all three locations.
Schartnerâ€™s reimagining of the stores, he said, was an attempt to get back on track.
He revealed plans for instance, to create a combination coffee shop, bakery, garden cafĂ© and martini bar with banquettes placed around a stone fireplace in the back courtyard of Wickford Flowers, but failed to apply for the necessary permits. Nor could he find outside investors.
Likewise, the concept of transforming Clarkeâ€™s into a coffee shop with multiple drive-through lanes encountered instant resistance from neighbors who hired legal counsel, bringing activities to a screeching halt.
In March, after notices were published announcing the public auction of the three properties by the mortgage holder, the entities headed by Schartner filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. At the time the auction was cancelled, 30 people reportedly were interested in bidding.
It was later learned that Schartner was in arrears with the power company, two banks and the three municipalities where he paid taxes.
Moreover, the properties were assessed for only a tiny fraction of the millions advanced by banks, sometimes in multiple loans.
In other North Kingstown business news, Toolsmart, a used implement emporium in the Wickford Commons Plaza, at 7675 Post Road, has gone out of business. After returning consigned tools to their owners and even posting a â€śFree Toolsâ€ť sign on the front door, owner Stephen Mosca conducted a liquidation sale.
The remainder of the inventory was purchased by McLaughlin Used Tools and the store closed its doors on July 31.
Likewise, Consignment Goods, an establishment offering antique furniture and accessories, collectibles and used contemporary items â€“ which once had stores in two locations in North Kingstown â€“ has ceased operation.
After enjoying great popularity at its Post Road shop across from the YMCA, Consignment Goods expanded to Wickford where partners Craig Schennum and Jim Zajas purchased two buildings on the site of the former Wickford Gourmet. They opened a second consignment store at the rear of the property and, in January 2011, launched a gourmet shop/bistro called Foodieâ€™s. That endeavor folded only 10 months later.
The next month they moved the consignment inventory to the former Gable House on Post Road in the North End of town but the new location never caught on.
The partnership of Schennum and Zajas dissolved and Gable House is standing empty.
The Pink Chair consignment shop has taken over Consignment Goodsâ€™ original spot on Post Road and is doing a brisk business.
Martha Smith is an award-winning journalist and author. Retired, she is an independent contractor for SRIN.