Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 03/24/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
In terms of distance, it wasn't a big move -- basically one block over and three blocks down the next street.
But in terms of the impact it had on sales for the downtown furniture store involved -- Interior Illusions -- that's a totally different story.
Because it's a private, family-owned business, co-owner Magda Zelickson wouldn't divulge exactly how much sales have grown in the two years since Interior Illusions made the move from its longtime quarters in the Designers Walk building at 329 Cumberland Ave. to the former Penthouse Furniture building at 100 Princess St.
"But it's been a sizable increase," she said.
The fact the move has had such a positive impact on their business was no big surprise to Zelickson, who along with her husband, Ken, launched Interior Illusions nearly 30 years ago.
"Let's face it, we had no traffic there," she said of their former Cumberland Avenue location.
But that's not a problem on Princess Street, which is one of the busiest streets in the West Exchange District.
Then there's the space itself. At close to 11,000 square feet, it's nearly double the size of their old quarters. That's allowed them to roughly double the size of their showroom space as well as the number of items they have on display.
The main-floor portion of the store -- they also lease space in the lower level of the six-storey, redeveloped heritage building -- also boasts extra-large windows that flood the interior with natural light during the day.
"We knew we had to make a move because we were growing and we were getting tight for space (at the old location). And there were no windows in there. It was too gloomy and we needed a change," Zelickson said.
"And this fit all of our needs because of the huge windows and the close proximity (to their former location). We wanted to stay here in the downtown."
Interior Illusions specializes in higher-end furniture, much of it exclusive lines produced by European and U.S. manufacturers.
"It's higher-end, but not unattainably high," Zelickson said, pointing out a $3,100 sectional that's on display, as well as a solid walnut dining-room table that carries a $2,400 price tag.
"We look for things that are a little different. It may be out of the price range for some people, but you can't be everything to everybody. It took me a while to figure that out."
Although furniture and home accessories are a big part of its business, Interior Illusions is more than just a furniture store. It's also a longtime dealer for Hunter Douglas window coverings and manufactures drapes, bedding and upholstered products for both residential and commercial customers, including the Fort Garry Hotel.
"We're designers and decorators as well," Zelickson said, noting their daughter, Michelle Chisick, is an interior designer and full-time employee. They can advise new-home buyers on everything from the type of furnishings, flooring and kitchen cabinets to buy for the inside of their new home, to the colour of shingles and decorative stone to use on the outside.
The firm also decorates and furnishes show homes for four or five local homebuilders and co-ordinates private home-renovation projects.
Interior Illusions has spent the bulk of its 30 years in the downtown, including one stint on Hargrave Street and two separate stints in the Designers Walk building.
Zelickson said they've found their product offering is unique enough that suburban customers will make the trip downtown to shop at their store. They even get out-of-town visitors dropping in, like the Thunder Bay couple that showed up a few weekends ago and bought some furniture.
"We just shipped it out to them."
Zelickson said all of the new residential development that has occurred in the downtown in recent years has also been good for business, including the conversion of the other five floors in the building they're now in into 60 one- and two-bedroom apartments.
"We're not relying on that (business from the building's residents)," Zelickson said. "But last week we did have a fellow who came in and bought a sofa and a chair."
As longtime retail tenants and downtown boosters, the Zelicksons like to think they've contributed to the ongoing revitalization of the area. And it's been encouraging to see several other new retail outlets open on their street in the two years since they moved there, including the HutK furniture store at 74 Princess St. and the Jose and Markham designer shoe store at 73 Princess St.
"We've got retail all around us," Zelickson said. "We have become a little bit of a retail hub."
Know of any newsworthy or interesting trends or developments in the local office, retail, or industrial real estate sectors? Let real estate reporter Murray McNeill know at the email address below, or at 204-697-7254.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 24, 2014 B4
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