Local stores calling it quits (5/7/09)

May 7, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Three companies in Williston — including one that has made its home in town for more than two decades — are going out of business.


    Observer photo by Tim Simard
The Sears Parts and Repair Center on Boyer Circle, pictured above, will cease its repair operations on May 15. The location will remain open as a drop-off facility for Sears appliances that need fixing.

The Floral Gallery in Maple Tree Place will close at the end of the month, said co-owners Karen Sturtevant and Mike Shoemaker. Player 1 Gaming, a computer gaming center also located in Maple Tree Place, recently closed its doors. It had opened less than a year ago, last June. Owner Brad Clark could not be reached for comment before press deadline.

Also closing this month is the Sears Parts and Repair Center on Boyer Circle, which has been a Williston fixture since 1987, after it moved to town from Shelburne. The last day for the repair shop will be May 15, according to Sears Branch Manager Corey Centerbar.

Situated in the Boyer Circle business park, the Sears location was the company’s only parts and repair shop in Vermont. The store sold parts and accessories for lawn and garden products, household appliances and electronics, as well as other merchandise. It also served as an onsite repair facility for Sears products.

Currently, the store is selling everything for 35 percent off, according to Centerbar. This weekend, the discounts will go to 50 percent off, he said.

“But we’re pretty much down to bare bones,” he said.

The location will not completely disappear, and instead will become a drop-off facility for Sears appliances that need repairing. Centerbar said repairs would now be trucked to a facility in Massachusetts. In terms of parts, Centerbar said customers would be able to order what they need by phone or online. A Sears parts store is still open in West Lebanon, N.H., he added. A Sears department store is also located at University Mall in South Burlington.

Centerbar said he did not know the exact reason Sears was closing the facility, but he guessed it was due to “lack of sales.”

“We have not been doing as well in the past two years as we have done in the past,” Centerbar said.

Floral Gallery opts out of lease

For the past three years, the Floral Gallery has created unique floral arrangements and sold handmade Vermont crafts in Maple Tree Place. But while Sturtevant and Shoemaker built a solid customer base, it wasn’t enough to keep the store open. Both blame the store’s location; The Floral Gallery is found in the outdoor mall’s walkway between Mexicali Authentic Mexican Grill and Best Buy.

“Being here in the walkway, we didn’t get the foot traffic we thought we would,” said Shoemaker, who also owns Northern Builders Inc. in Essex Junction.

Sturtevant said Maple Tree Place has odd shopping patterns; people don’t explore beyond the big box stores, she said. She had hoped the walkway would take on more of a Church Street Marketplace “feel,” but that never happened.

The Floral Gallery will close its doors at the end of May. Currently, there is a storewide sale going on. In June, local vendors who sold their wares at the store will be able to pick up whatever items did not sell. Fixtures will also be broken down and sold, Shoemaker said.

“We both wanted to keep this open,” Shoemaker said. “Karen loves what she does, but it comes down to money.”

Shoemaker said he originally negotiated a five-year lease with Maple Tree Place’s owners, the Illinois-based Inland U.S. Management. Part of the agreement included a three-year bail out clause, which Shoemaker used to opt out of the lease. The owners considered moving the store’s location, but decided it was too expensive.

For now, Shoemaker and Sturtevant will hold onto the store’s name and could reopen elsewhere in the area if the timing and money is right.

“It was a great experience and I wouldn’t trade a day of it,” Sturtevant said. “It was a wonderful ride. It’s a shame it had to end.”