OVIEDO, Fla.| In this city outside Orlando, shoppers can grab a coffee while getting a bike repaired. Java lovers can browse modern furniture for sale. And happy hour customers at a brewery are free to take in and even buy local art or partake in a painting class.
A new breed of hybrid shops are opening across central Florida, combining retail with full-fledged cafes and bars to double the chance of business success.
In recent years retailers have been expanding their horizons, with grocers moving into prepared foods and electronics stores stepping into technology repairs. But some shops are finding common customers in seemingly unrelated fields.
A shop that opened in early March called Propagation sells espresso alongside mid-century furniture.
Washburn Imports, a foreign furniture emporium with two area locations, doubles as the Imperial, where customers can enjoy a beer or cocktail surrounded by home decor from all over the world.
It makes sense to restaurant consultant Rick Van Warner, who said business owners can expand their audience and sales base with multiple concepts.
"With all the stress on people's time, it makes sense to combine as many things as you can," Van Warner said. "Coffee shops used to be very sterile environments, but they have really kind of morphed into places where people hang out and maybe even buy something."
Velo Creek Bike and Brew splits business almost 50-50 between its cafe and bicycle repair and sales.
"They kind of support each other," said owner Thad Daughtery, who runs the shop with his wife, Kristina. "Coffee shops aren't always busy, and bike shops aren't always busy."
The couple opened the store and cafe in November about a mile from a popular recreational trail. The Daughterys organize riding events, brew coffee and try to take advantage of the converging tastes of bicyclists and coffee lovers.
The two areas, Thad Daughtery said, seem to have a similar audience.
"Cycling and coffee go hand in hand for sure," he said.
Oviedo's Josh Hylton bought bikes there for himself and his daughter, and the cycling vibe has also changed his coffee habits.
"I'll admit that as a bike guy I've started going there to buy coffee for that exact reason," Hylton said.
Still, the owners of Velo Creek Bike and Brew have tried to make sure their shop doesn't cater exclusively to those that have an interest in both categories. It now has five employees, not including the owners themselves, dedicated strictly to the bikes or making drinks.
"We want to be a neighborhood coffee shop, and if someone becomes more interested in buying a bike, that's great," Daughtery said.
While hybrid bars and cafes are growing in popularity, these establishments may be hard to clone and spread, Van Warner said.
"Most of the people that are doing these things are independents and are in eclectic neighborhoods," Van Warner said. "It is something that has a lot of appeal, and is more funky and quirky than your normal chain restaurant."
Winter Park Beer Co. owner Dave Brunson has made his business into both a bar and an art gallery, decorating the walls with paintings from local artists that doubles as decoration.
"The idea is that you have a beverage while you are browsing the art," Brunson said.
The 2,000-square-foot bar is broke up into several rooms and has space for smaller art exhibits. Winter Park Beer Co. also hosts music acts like other small pubs and breweries.
The bar hosts painting classes, too, partnering with artists to teach while their art is on display.
In fact, artists are required to teach a class or host a showing for their art to hang on the walls. Brunson describes the business as almost like a co-op, where the success of the bar is dependent on the work of artists, and vice versa.
Of course, serving alcohol and selling merchandise does have its advantages, Brunson said.
"Alcohol definitely loosens people up to talk about and even buy the pieces that are up for sale," he said.