Kitchen is closed

A shopping centre that was once expected to become a furniture mecca has lost its third store in a month and a half.

A man reads the notice of closure on Kitchen and Patio’s front doors Tuesday.

A shopping centre that was once expected to become a furniture mecca has lost its third store in a month and a half.

Kitchen & Patio closed its retail outlet in Red Deer County’s Liberty Crossing early last week.

A notice on the door says: “We regret to inform you that this location is no longer in operation.”

It directs customers with questions about outstanding product to call Kitchen & Patio’s other store in Calgary at 403-259-5292.

The Advocate was unable to obtain comment from the store’s owners.

The Bedroom Shoppe and The Living Room, which operated east of Kitchen & Patio, closed the end of June when their owners sought bankruptcy protection.

Bernie Caspick, whose company Ingenious Ideas Inc. is overseeing the liquidation of The Bedroom Shoppe and The Living Room, said he noticed four trucks being loaded outside Kitchen & Patio last Tuesday. When they left, the store was empty.

Kitchen & Patio opened here in April 2008, with owners Ken Toon and Marcella Sieben also operating a Lane Home Furnishings franchise from the same premises. They discontinued their Lane line early this year.

With The Bedroom Shoppe, The Living Room and Kitchen & Patio gone, only Ashley Furniture HomeStore remains in the building.

Amber Sieben, Ashley’s admin warehouse manager, said the loss of the neighbouring stores is unfortunate because it means fewer consumers will visit the area. Some might also not realize that Ashley is a separate entity.

“I think they think we’re all one business, which isn’t true.”

Doug Grinde is a sales associate with Barclay Street Real Estate Ltd., the leasing agent for building owner Liberty Crossing General Partner Inc. He said the vacant bays — which consists of approximately 13,500 square feet in the case of the area shared by The Bedroom Shoppe and The Living Room, and just over 19,000 square feet for Kitchen & Patio — might each be leased to multiple tenants.

“I think there’s a possibility that we’re going to have more than two tenants replacing the tenants that came out, and I think it’s possible that we’ll have tenants different than furniture replacing what came out.

“We have interest from both furniture and other types right now.”

Sieben doesn’t think it’s essential that her store’s new neighbours also deal in furniture. Any business that draws people would be beneficial, she said.

Grinde said the closure of three furniture stores reflects the economic downturn, which has resulted in fewer homes being built and a reduced demand for furnishings.

“What you have is certain market segments that really got hurt.”

Sieben agrees, but thinks the worst is over.

“We’ve actually been seeing an improvement in our business here in the last few months.”

In addition to the space previously occupied by The Bedroom Shoppe, The Living Room, and Kitchen & Patio, Barclay Street Real Estate continues to seek tenants for a nearby 9,400-square-foot building also owned by Liberty Crossing General Partner.

A conditional agreement with a group interested in opening a restaurant there has been delayed, said Grinde, adding that the building might be split between two tenants.

Meanwhile, the liquidation sale at The Bedroom Shoppe and The Living Room has been “phenomenal,” said Caspick. It will continue until Aug. 17 at 9 p.m.

Caspick previously pledged to help customers who placed deposits on furniture prior to the stores’ closures obtain their goods. Of the approximately 300 buyers with unsatisfied orders, he’s now helped about 60, he said.

“So we’ve ploughed through about 20 per cent of them so far,” he said, predicting that all but about 10 per cent should ultimately receive their products.

“It’s unfortunate,” he said of this remainder, “but their product is not made, they put everything down, they paid cash or debit or cheque or whatever — there’s no recourse for them.”

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