Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Blue Moon rises in east Exchange

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THE east Exchange District has a new furniture store to go with all the new apartments and condominiums springing up in the area.

Blue Moon, the furniture gallery that had been a fixture on Corydon Avenue for 21 years, recently pulled up stakes and moved into the main floor of a historic building at 109 Pacific Ave.

Sylvia Bock, who owns Blue Moon along with her daughter, Leila Bock-Freeman, said she'd been eyeing the space for more than a decade, waiting for the right time to move in. With all the new residential and commercial development that's been taking place over the last few years in the east Exchange/Waterfront Drive area, she felt that time had finally arrived.

Bock admitted she was still nervous about relocating from a high-traffic retail strip such as Corydon to a still-evolving retail area like the east Exchange District. But any concerns she had soon evaporated.

Not only have customers from their Corydon Avenue store followed them to their new location, they've had workers, residents and soon-to-be residents from their new neighbourhood dropping in to purchase their handcrafted specialty furniture items, which are made from such things as teak-tree roots and banana leaves.

"I'm very pleased with the number of people walking in the door," a beaming Bock said Tuesday in their 6,000-square-foot showroom, which has 25-foot-high ceilings and a large bank of windows that take up most of the wall.

She and Bock-Freeman cited two recent examples where all the employees from two architecture firms in the area showed up en masse to welcome them to the neighbourhood and to check out their furniture.

And several couples who have purchased condos in the nearby Sky Waterfront Condominiums stopped in to pick out furnishings for their new digs.

"We joked with them that when we deliver their furniture we'll just walk it over to them," Bock-Freeman said.

There are two other businesses in the 45,000-square-foot Dominion Express Co. building, which stretches from Pacific Avenue to Alexander Avenue, with entrances on both streets. One is a recently opened personal fitness studio (Lift Fitness) and the other is a specialty paper company (Botanical Paperworks).

But the only other furniture store is Brick's Fine Furniture a few blocks to the south on Market Avenue.

While there aren't many other retailers in the immediate vicinity, Bock and Bock-Freeman said they expect that to soon change.

"It's such an up-and-coming area. There are new things coming up all time," Bock-Freeman said. "And this is now a place where people want to come, whereas 10 years ago people weren't really sure if they wanted to come down here."

The executive director of the Exchange District Business Improvement Zone said Blue Moon is one of at least three new furniture stores that have opened in the east and west Exchange in the last 18 months. (Interior Illusions and hutK are the others). And there have been at least a half a dozen new restaurants and nightclubs, as well.

"There's got to be a relationship with all of the new residential development that's going on," Brian Timmerman said.

Bobby Brown, president of Leon A. Brown Ltd., the Winnipeg real estate firm that owns 109 Pacific Ave., is thrilled to have Blue Moon finally move into the space that was vacated about two years ago by the Costume Museum of Canada.

"It's the right tenant for the right space," Brown said. "And it's amazing what's been happening in the area in the last few years. I've been doing this for 30 years and I've never seen so much exciting new development."

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 5, 2012 B4

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