By Cathy Wharton
For Hometown News
When Victoria Wray first came to Florida a year and a half ago, what impressed her most was the beautiful climate.
"The sun was shining, the sky was blue and it was 75 degrees." For her, that settled it.
Upon moving from her native Mayland to New Smyrna, Ms. Wray looked around for the right location to launch her own business. She found it at 501 Canal St. After extensive remodeling and an interior overhaul, the storefront was "re-commissioned" and ready to roll. Since then, she has nestled into the community, and this past May opened 12 Oaks Gifts & Home Decor.
Ms. Wray chose the name of her business for good reason: "I liked the live oaks here, and the moss hanging down," she said. "They reminded me of the Old South - like in "Gone With the Wind," my favorite movie - a little Southern charm."
Located in the Historic District of downtown New Smyrna Beach, 12 Oaks is a dream come true for the aspiring entrepreneur.
"It has been a dream of mine to have my own store," Ms. Wray said. "This is what I always dreamed about doing."
As sole owner of the business, Victoria Wray has carte blanche to combine both her instincts and experience to build upon her successes. With a background in interior design and retail management, Ms. Wray found her niche: Offering unique furnishings and hard-to-find decor to those who seek an attractive and discerning lifestyle.
In keeping with the laid-back atmosphere of this historic seaside community, the merchandise at 12 Oaks reflects a decidedly nautical touch. In the center of the store is an artful display of sea-theme items, attractively arranged on spacious glass shelving, all perfectly suited for coastal living.
Among the various home accents 12 Oaks carries is a large selection of decorative pillows, many in pastel hues of turquoise, peach, pinks and blues. There are also mirrors, picture frames and candles; plus an ample number of furniture items, including tables with matching chairs, lamps, and other pieces to enhance the coastal Florida look.
In addition to home decor, the store carries personal care items, such as soaps, lotions and perfumes; plus a nice selection of quality hand-crafted jewelry. There are also unique gift items and greeting cards for that special, or not-so-special, occasion. For those who are planning a party, barware and tableware can also be found at 12 Oaks.
Home decor is not all 12 Oaks offers. Ms. Wray also operates an in-store gathering place called the "Juice Garden Cafe," a small eating hub that features a number of popular food items. Starting at 8 a.m, the cafe offers early-morning wake-ups: Coffees, lattes, cappuccinos and espresso; plus teas, juices and smoothies.
There is also low-fat and fat-free frozen yogurt on hand (flavor of the day), as well as a plentiful supply of fresh seasonal fruit; plus homemade muffins, cookies and brownies, all same-day-made by 12 Oaks' neighbor, Riverside Catering. When it comes to lunch, the cafe offers a variety of fresh salads and sandwiches, plus daily specials, such as lasagna or crab cakes - or any number of other tasty homemade dishes prepared and delivered by their next-door caterer.
For liquid refreshments, the Juice Garden is a "smoothies and juices" retreat. Try the Mango Manatee (papaya and mango), or the Tropical Tango (pineapple and orange), or how about Sunny Honey Avocado (avocado, banana and honey)! Also on tap is the Very Berry Flamingo, Peach Paradise and Beach Bum - all of them smoothies. Juice cocktails include Kiwi King, Pina colada, Ginger, and more; while juices, straight from the source, are apple, carrot, grapefruit and orange.
The Juice Garden Cafe is so delightful that it has become a weekly meeting place for one of New Smyrna's community agencies. The cafe can comfortably seat 24 people, and the self-serve arrangement adds to the relaxed and unhurried environment.
The cafe also has free wi-fi. Additionally, there's a 20-percent discount on drink products for all military service personnel, law enforcement officers, and members of fire and rescue units. Cafe hours are the same as store hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Indeed, 12 Oaks offers the best of two worlds: Shopping and browsing; plus a bit of respite from the usual pace. At 12 Oaks Gifts & Home Decor, there is something for everyone.
12 Oaks Gifts & Home Decor is located at 501 Canal St., New Smyrna Beach.
Hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday - Saturday. Phone: (386) 957-3920 or find them on Facebook http:www.12oakshomedecor.com.