By MARTHA SMITH
Special to the Standard
NORTH KINGSTOWN – Three once-thriving flower shops located in North Kingstown, East Greenwich and on the East Side of Providence are scheduled to be sold at a public mortgagee’s auction at noon on March 5.
The businesses are Schartner’s Wickford Flowers at 170 West Main Street which for a half-century was owned by the Greene family; Blossom Florist at 91-93 Main St., East Greenwich, operated for decades by a pair of elderly women; and the former Clark’s Florist, at 398-402 Hope St., which was for many years the preferred flower shop of Brown University faculty and students as well as wealthy East Siders.
According to legal announcements by Cohn Dussi & Bilodeau LLC, attorneys for the mortgage holder, the properties were purchased under the names of Schartner Florists (East Greenwich and Providence) and Schartner Properties (North Kingstown.) All are managed by Tim Schartner who lives with his family in the West Main Street building.
The flower shops were purchased April 9, 2008. Each has had a checkered history.
While Blossom remained the most traditional of the businesses, Schartner announced plans to revive the flagging Providence and North Kingstown stores as dining establishments.
His plan to transform the former Clark’s into a coffee shop with multiple drive-through lanes was met with instant resistance from neighbors who hired legal counsel that brought activities to a screeching halt.
In a far-ranging interview published in the state’s largest daily newspaper, Schartner said he floated the proposal because he was behind in his mortgage and didn’t “have access” to his father’s wealth. His father is Richard Schartner, owner of Schartner Farm in Exeter.
He has made two attempts to promote a similar idea in Wickford.
The first, revealed in early July of last year, was a concept for a combination coffee shop, bakery, garden café and, at night, an outdoor martini bar with banquettes placed around a stone fireplace in the back courtyard.
Although he expressed a hope to be up and running in a few months, two weeks later the property was listed for sale or lease at $1.09 million. At that time, realtor Allen B. Gammons disclosed that the business had actually been for sale at $1.3 million for the previous five or six months but the price had been reduced.
The flower shop subsequently closed but reopened in late December. It has remained opened, offering a 40 percent off sale on merchandise throughout the store.
In mid-January the notion of an eating establishment resurfaced when a sign was posted inside announcing the imminent opening of a “yet to be named coffee house.” At that time, Tim’s wife, Veronika Schartner, said her husband had acquired a business partner.
They had hoped to be open by now or early March at the latest. Town officials confirmed, however, that Schartner had not applied for the necessary licenses and permits. He was also required to be current on his taxes which, according to a published list of property owners who are in arrears, he is not.
This week, the Wickford store was closed. Schartner was unavailable for comment.
The legal notices for the auctions state that bidders on the three properties will need cash, certified checks or bank checks in the amount of $10,000 each for the East Greenwich and Providence properties and $20,000 for the Wickford site which is considerably larger.
Martha Smith is an award-winning journalist and author. Retired, she is an independent contractor for SRIN.