Smulekoff's will close, not relocate

Closure to impact 50 employees; won't impact outstanding orders

Business Rotator, Retail,
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August 19, 2014 | 2:28 pm

CEDAR RAPIDS — After 125 years in downtown Cedar Rapids, Smulekoff's Home Store will close at the end of December, the company announced Tuesday.

“It's been really hard for all of us,” said Theresa Blair, the Smulekoff's communications manager. “Many of us have worked here for quite awhile.”
Blair said that Ann Lipsky, the company's president, did not come to this conclusion easily.

“It came down to timing,” she said. “In order to participate in the buyout, a decision had to made. Despite her efforts, she couldn't find an adequate place to move.”

The city of Cedar Rapids will purchase the furniture store for $4.7 million through its Voluntary Property Acquisition process — federal funds used to buy properties destroyed by the 2008 flood.

While the city closed most of its buyout offers on June 30, Sandi Fowler, Cedar Rapids assistant city manager, said Monday that the Smulekoff's deal was extended because the store appealed the city's original valuation and had the store reappraised.

Smulekoff's has no immediate plans to sell its other properties, Blair said, which include a warehouse at 411 Sixth Ave. SE, and an office building at 101 First Ave. SE.

The furniture store has been part of the downtown landscape since 1889 when Henry Smulekoff opened a store on May's Island.

It later moved to Third Avenue SW in 1908, and then relocated to its current location in 1942. Smulekoff's also dealt with flood damage in 2008, which forced the business to operate out of its warehouse for two months before it could return to its downtown location.

Lipsky first asked the city to buy the building in 2011, writing a letter stating she had concerns over the Army Corps of Engineers flood protection plans, which call for a flood wall next to the store. This would block its delivery dock, she wrote.
Smulekoff's said in a news release that the closure will have no effect on outstanding orders.

Blair said the store will start to discount its stock later this month, with an invite only event for former customers. She said the sale will extend to the general public in early September.

“It will take quite a few months to sell,” she said. “We have quite a bit of stock in the warehouse as well as the four floors at the store.”

The company said 50 employees will be impacted by the closing, inlcuding sales, office, warehouse and invenotry staff. Blair said the company has plans put in place to assist employees.

“We appreciate our generations of loyal customers, our staff and our suppliers, who have allowed us to offer quality and value to our customers and to the Cedar Rapids community who have helped us thrive,” Lipsky said in a news release. “We treasure the role we have been able to play in the growth of this community, through challenges and triumphs.”

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