Well……. This is not what I had planned to talk about now, but sometimes, life circumstances dictate your course of action.
Our first location 50 years ago was at 122 Big Hill Avenue, a building called the Luxon Building. We started with one room and at the end of 7 years we had grown to four rooms and were bursting at the seems. I remember telling my dad if we didn’t find a bigger place, I would quit. Yeah, sure.
We did find a bigger space and better location in Richmond's first big shopping center, the University Shopping Center at the intersection of the Eastern Bypass and Lancaster Ave. It was 4800 square feet and we filled it up almost immediately. We moved there in the mid 1970s and it proved to be a great location for us with high visibility and lots of parking. (It's now the location of a Goodwill store, as shown in the photo.) We were sub-letting from Singercorp and seven years into our lease the Singercorp opted out of the extension. Our rent doubled overnight, so we decided to look around for another location.
During the 1970’s downtown business districts all across America had been stagnating because of the move to suburban shopping malls, but my Dad made the gutsy decision in the early 1980s to move downtown to our current location at the corner of Main and Second streets. The building was owned by the Richmond Elks Club, which had its lodge upstairs, and had previously been a Newberry's store. We got lots of space and a 20-year lease. So we spent a month remodeling and moved into our new home. And, as they say, the rest is history.
It’s amazing how intimate you can become with a 150-year-old building. I know every nook and cranny. We’ve been through a lot here -- floods, broken windows, break-ins, renovations, and other events -- and throughout it has been good to us, just like the two generations of customers that have sustained us in this location.
But now, 36 years later, it is time for a change again. When the Elks Club sold the building a few years ago, we knew we might have to move soon.
Now this great old building has a new owner and she’s going to get a new life with a beautiful renovation. But it will be impossible for us to stay here during the renovation. We are hoping to stay downtown and find a place with some parking. Whatever happens, it will be a good change. I will miss our old home, but look forward to our new adventure (and new carpet, wherever we go). Hope you can come along for the ride! This year we will celebrate not just our Grand Reopening but also the 50th Anniversary of our business. I invite you to join us. Details to follow.
P.S.: We are grateful to our current landlord for helping to make this transition as painless and as easy as a major move could be! Thanks Rodney!