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This article was published 4/6/2015 (695 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
In the end, it wasn't age -- the owner is 75 -- or increased competition that led to the pending closure of one of the city's oldest downtown stores -- Brick's Fine Furniture.
Instead, it's dust that's doing it in, says owner Cynthia Brick.
Brick rents the main floor of a four-storey heritage building at 145 Market Ave., and the owner of the building is about to convert the top three floors into condominiums.
She said the pre-construction work is stirring up lots of concrete dust, which is finding its way into her showroom and covering everything in a layer of grit. And that's hurting sales.
"No matter how often you dust, it's just covered like that again because of the renovations. I've had customers that walked in and ran their fingers over the furniture and then walked out. They didn't say anything to me, but it's very obvious," she said.
'If you're buying a $10,000 dining room set and it's got all of this gritty dust on the top of it, do you think that would induce you to want to spend that money? I don't think so'
"And I can't blame them. If you're buying a $10,000 dining room set and it's got all of this gritty dust on the top of it, do you think that would induce you to want to spend that money? I don't think so. And I know it's only going to get worse."
Brick noted this is the third consecutive summer construction work has negatively impacted the business she and her husband, Fred, launched in 1969 after the furniture company for which he was doing bookkeeping work closed its doors.
The previous two years, street repair work on Market Avenue made it difficult for customers to get to the store, she added.
"People don't realize that your rent, wages, insurance, etc., all have to be paid while there is no money coming in. I don't feel I have the energy to face another summer like this, so perhaps the time has come to close the store and accept this reality."
The marketing and communications co-ordinator for the Exchange District Business Improvement Zone (BIZ) said the organization will be sorry to see Brick's close. The company started on Princess Street, moved to 111 Lombard Ave., in the mid-1970s and has been at its current site since 2009.
"Brick's Fine Furniture was one of the original leaders in creating the Exchange as a shopping destination for home design and curation," Stephanie Sherbain said.
"Over the years, they had established themselves as an Exchange destination and had been a strong driving force in attracting business to the area. In the Exchange alone, there are nine shops dedicated to the art of home design, and so the departure of Brick's Fine Furniture will definitely be noticed."
Brick stressed she bears no ill will toward Qualico, which owns the building, or the StreetSide Development Corporation, the Qualico division that's doing the condo conversion.
"I knew about this (the plan to convert the upper floors to condos) all along. It just seemed like it was in the distant future and I thought, 'Gee, I'm going to be 74 or 75 (by then). Who's going to want to still be running a business (at that age)?"
Little did she know she would.
"I still love my job. That's why this (closing down the business) is going to be hard. But that's what life is."
Brick also admitted retiring scares the heck out of her.
"I really don't want to retire. I've never done it before, and I'm afraid. I've never travelled. All I've done is work six days a week, and it's what I'm comfortable doing."
That's why she's hoping to land a job with another furniture retailer, or maybe condos.
"I don't know if anybody is going to want to hire me, but I think I would like to (keep working)."
StreetSide manager Martin Maykut said although Qualico is sorry to lose Brick's as a tenant, the store's closing will make it easier to do the conversion work.
He said the company will now renovate the main-floor area as well, and hopes to find another retailer or office tenant to lease the 10,000-square-foot space. If it can't, it will convert that floor to condos, as well, he added.
A going-out-of-business sale is planned to start late next week. Brick said she has to vacate by July 30, but could exit sooner if everything sells before then.