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Smulekoff's to close, not relocate

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CEDAR RAPIDS — It’s official. A day after news came that Smulekoff’s had sold its downtown building to the city the company also confirms it is closing after 125 years in business with no plans to relocate.

Customers who came by the store on Third Avenue S.E. in downtown Cedar Rapids may have gotten the news when they pulled the handle and found the doors locked. Many then saw the sign that said the store was closed to prepare for a going-out-of-business sale and reopening Saturday, August 30th.

One customer, Derek Loffer, was sad when he heard the news.

“To see something go out of business after 125 years is pretty sad for the town,” Loffer said. Another shopper who still wanted to place a special order, Darcy Caraway, echoed that feeling.

“It’s too bad they can’t find an interested buyer for the business as it exists because I know they have a following,” Caraway said

Theresa Blair, Smulekoff’s advertising and commercial manager, said the store will still take special orders until this coming Saturday. They had planned a shorter closing time to prepare for the sale. But the news Monday about the sale of the building to the city prompted the earlier closing to retag sale items.

“We had a lot to do. This is a big place with a big warehouse with a lot of accessories. So we’re reorganizing the floors,” Blair said.

Blair said the store has about 50 employees. The owners hope all continue working until the sale concludes or the end of the year arrives and the city takes possession of the five-story building.

Blair confirmed that Smulekoff’s did look hard at a move to Westdale Mall which is beginning a massive renovation. But she said it didn’t work out

Competition and the impact of flood damage in 2008 also took a toll on the business in recent years.

But Blair insisted the number one reason for taking a building buyout remains fears of how future flood protection work would impact a working furniture store.

“The decision was made early after the flood that with a movable flood wall six inches to a foot off our back wall we wouldn’t be able to operate here,” Blair said.

Blair said the owners would retain a nearby warehouse building on Sixth Street that housed furniture for the store. There are no current plans for that warehouse.

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