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Best old business that Just doesn't add up

Lust Cash Transactor

With its jarring name – it's a nod to 80-year-old store proprietor Mark Lust, not a quantifier of felicitations – and even more surprising business focus on machines that don't often factor into modern life (cash registers, old typewriters, adding machines), it's hard to find a better merchant in Orlando to represent the battle between what is and what used to be. Lust launched his Cash Transactor 35 years ago, before there were dust bunnies and the smell of pending obsolescence in his shop, and he claims that, at least at one time, business was booming. These days, a few kind visitors and irony fans venture through his alarm-rigged storefront, but generally speaking, he's just waiting for the right time to exit himself.

See, Lust's story is less about a down-on-his-luck former entrepreneur and the stacks of papers and devices that surround him than it is a David and Goliath tale between one man and a city with unrealizable dreams. In 2006, the city signed off on big plans for the blighted Mills-Nebraska lumberyard, which is adjacent to Lust's property near the corner of Virginia Drive and Mills Avenue. The so-called Mills Park – evidenced today in the sun-bleached banners heralding its imminent arrival – was to be a boon for the city and the lifestyle it was becoming increasingly fond of pretending it could afford. About 78,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space, 272,000 square feet for office space and 564 residential condominiums were intended to add up to a $350 million mixed-use paradise. None of that, of course, would ever pan out.

But even when the city thought Mills Park – and its original developer, Justin Pelloni – was a near-certainty, Lust was playing hardball with the city, reportedly holding out for $1.25 million for his 5,250-square-foot parcel. A series of negotiations either did or didn't happen, depending on whom you speak to, and in the end the city was left with a massive pile of dirt and a lone holdout in the form of Lust. Alleged pressure from code enforcement and several written back-and-forths with the city have yet to produce any real agreement, and Lust continues to operate his gadget emporium with a bent spring in his step.

"It's the planners," Lust says of the city. "They plan on things for the future when the future's not there."

He is, however, still waiting on his big payout.

 

Best place to pretty yourself up on the cheap

Aveda Institute
495 N. Semoran Blvd., Winter Park; 407-657-0348; avedaflorida.com

In our ideal world, we have all the time and money we need to invest in our vanity – leisurely trips to the spa, stress-relieving mani-pedis and frequent, gossipy appointments with our favorite stylists with whom we never spend less than $250. But we live in the real world, where sometimes you can’t wait until your next paycheck comes to tidy up your bedraggled rat’s nest, months go by between manicures and … what exactly do they do at a spa, anyway? That’s why we’re happy to have an Aveda Institute in town – everything’s cheap (haircuts for just $12 by students in training, $18 by “masters”), you can get all your beauty treatments in one cavernous space and did we mention it’s cheap? Sure, you’re entrusting your good looks to a student, but it’s only hair – it’ll grow back.

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