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Sowing New Seeds

Former flower shop leaves space to fill.

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Now that another Midtown landmark has closed, its empty building needs a new tenant.

Barkley's Stem Shop, at 1939 Madison, has been sitting vacant for the past few months, waiting for a new business to fill the void left by longtime tenants Nat and Alice Barkley.

Although neither Barkley could be reached for this story, neighbors say the mom-and-pop proprietors couldn't justify their business' existence any longer.

"They couldn't compete with places like Kroger," said Robert Smith, a bartender at the adjacent Huey's, which owns the vacant building that operated under the Barkley's banner since 1988.

Steven Levy, chief manager of Levy Commercial Realty, is tasked with finding a tenant for the 1,400-square-foot retail building. He said he has two possibilities so far — another florist or a business he declined to reveal.

However, Levy said any potential business would have to accept overflow parking from Huey's in the former Barkley's lot during lunch, dinner, and on weekends. Rent and other terms are more favorable because of the parking issue, he said.

Levy declined to discuss the reason for the Barkleys' departure.

"They were a complementary tenant for all these many years, but what their long-term plans are, I can't speak to that," he said.

Nicole Blaylock, a loyal Barkley's customer, said she thought the florists' closure was "just weird" because of its abruptness. Her husband discovered the shop had closed when he stopped by for some flowers. The couple often bought roses there to celebrate family milestones.

"The flowers were beautiful," Blaylock said. "They lasted long and they were very inexpensive."

Before the business closed, an online reviewer on Yahoo said, "I left Memphis in 1993 and still continue to use them every year for family birthdays. [This is] the best florist in Memphis as far as I'm concerned."

The former Barkley's building is not far from Overton Square, which has been struggling for several years to reemerge as a retail and entertainment hotspot.

Most recently, Loeb Properties hinted that a 53,000-square-foot grocery store could open along Cooper as early as next year.

At the same time, improvements might be made to parts of Cooper, Trimble, Florence, Monroe, and Madison. All of the changes would comply with the Midtown Overlay that governs new construction and renovation projects in the area.

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