A TRADER in Wincanton has 24 hours to save her dream of bringing up to 40 traders into the high street in time for Christmas.
Tracey Seager has been trying to open The Purple Poppy Emporium on Wincanton's High Street for around six months.
After a series of negotiations, she now believes she has a 24-hour window to launch the project – or miss out on crucial pre-Christmas trade.
Ms Seager, of Balsam Fields, said: "It's so disappointing and frustrating. I've had lots of people keen to get involved but have had to drop out because of the time this has taken to get off the ground.
"Christmas is the ideal time for trade, but I'm beginning to wonder if I can pull it off in time.
"I would have to get into a shop and get the keys by the end of this week for it to happen.
"Everyone talks about how great Wincanton used to be for visitors and we need to get it rocking again. It seems ridiculous that there are so many places available on the high street but it's so difficult for someone to get in and start trading.
"It would be a crying shame if it didn't go ahead."
Ms Seager hopes the emporium would act as an "incubation centre" for up and coming retailers.
Ms Seager unsuccessfully tried to negotiate a lease for the former Alldays site on Wincanton High Street and talks to secure three units at the back of Applegarth Arcade have stalled. Ms Seager is in further talks this week and she hopes she can come to a temporary arrangement with a landlord as a last resort.
She said: "I've still got hope and am trying everything to get a lease somewhere running until Christmas, with the view to getting a permanent license.
"I need someone to come forward with a simple lease or license to trade to let me get in.
"If I can take a place and turn it into something special, it will attract people into Wincanton, create jobs and bring more money into the town."
It is hoped the emporium would include a tearoom and a marquee at the back of the building to host craft fairs, holistic therapy groups and specialist workshops.
John Smith, chairman of Wincanton Businesses Together, said: "An emporium would be an excellent opportunity for more than 20 fledgeling businesses to have the chance to have a high street presence and gain experience without bearing the full costs of having a shop.
"We can only wait to see what happens, but I really hope Tracey can pull it off."