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A boutique offering a mix of antiques and modern goods, a bistro featuring local fare and a floral-arrangement store soon will fill the old firehouse on Craven Street.
It's a big undertaking, but Beaufort resident Annie Ballance, who owns all three stores, believes the story behind how one of those shops got its unusual name -- The Tooting Egret -- will bring good luck.
One day, when visiting her horse at a Bluffton stable, Ballance found an egret with a broken wing lying inside a stall.
After realizing the barn caretakers weren't doing anything to fix the wing, Ballance packed the egret in her car thinking a local nature center would take it in and nurse it back to health.
But the center declined.
So she took the bird home, called a veterinarian, had the wing bandaged and held out hope -- even after the vet warned the egret probably wouldn't survive.
After weeks of housing and feeding the bird in her garage, Ballance started to lose faith.
Then one day in October, the bird, looking healthier, started to sink down as if it were going to rest.
What happened next caught Ballance by surprise.
The bird let out a "toot."
"I thought, 'Hey, this bird is going to be OK,'<2009>" Ballance said. "Not only did the bird make it, but we took off her bandage the next week. ... She was supposed to die, and she didn't."
The ordeal happened while Ballance was putting her business plan into action.
Once the egret healed, Ballance returned it to the barn and found inspiration for a name for her new boutique.
All three stores -- The Tooting Egret, The Bistro and Fiori -- are expected to open
April 16 and will share the same entrance at the old firehouse.
Open for breakfast and lunch, The Bistro will offer seasonal menus featuring local produce, wine and craft beers, Ballance said.
Fiori's florist will sell "innovative and energetic" fresh floral arrangements.
As for The Tooting Egret, Ballance said she plans to sell home goods, gifts and humorous, entertaining items.
"We havked hard to make sure it's a good, different retail store," Ballance said.
The Tooting Egret and Fiori will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Bistro will serve breakfast from 7 to 10:30 a.m., lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and coffee and cake or wine and small plates until 6 p.m.
Details: Fiori, 843-521-4500; The Bistro, 843-521-4507; The Tooting Egret, 843-521-4506
Other recent business openings, closings and changes in the area:
Locals might remember owner Norberto Lopez from his previous restaurants on Boundary Street where Bricks on Boundary is now, and most recently in Shell Point, according to a news release. Berto's will feature Mexican food and authentic decor with indoor and outdoor seating, the release said.
The restaurant is open
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.