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Brick's Fine Furniture set to close foreverWednesday, July 15, 2015 > 08:49:11
(Home Goods Online)
It's not long now until this city's sole remaining high-end furniture specialist closes its doors forever and joins a growing number of independent retailers across this country who are choosing to simply leave the business. But for Brick's Fine Furniture, the straw that broke the camel's back was dust.
For the past three years, the store has vainly tried to operate in the midst of a construction zone. First, it was the City of Winnipeg carrying out a two-year street repair project in the area surrounding the store. This made parking in the immediate vicinity of the store almost impossible, discouraging all but her most loyal customers.
"People don't realise your rent, wages, insurance, and all that still have to be paid while there is no money coming in," Cynthia Brick said in a telephone interview. "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."
Now, the owner of her building - a four-story heritage structure in in the midst of the city's Exchange District Business Improvement Zone - is converting the floors over the store into condominiums. This construction work is producing an almost irremovable, not to mention constant layer of fine dust on everything displayed across the store's 14,000 square feet of display space - which includes collections from many of the better known names in the ‘better' and ‘best' upholstery and case goods categories, including Barrymore, Durham, Drexel and Hooker, among others.
"No matter how often you dust, it's just covered like that again because of the renovations. I've seen had customers walk in, run their fingers over the furniture and then walk out," Brick said.
"And I can't blame them," she continued, "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."
Cynthia Brick - who founded the business with her husband, Fred, in 1969 - said she isn't quite ready to retire at 75 but will take some time to consider her options once the ‘going out of business' sale ends, probably at the end of July. The sale is being conducted by Daniel Lynch Sales.
The couple started out on Princess Street, which at one time hosted many of Winnipeg's well known independent furniture retailers before moving to Lombard Ave in the mid-1970s. The store has been at its current location since 2009.
Fred and Cynthia Brick are perhaps best known in the industry for successfully defending themselves in a lawsuit brought by what is now known as The Brick in the early 1990s. After a five-year long legal battle, the Federal Court upheld their right to use their family name - Brick's Fine Furniture - for their furniture store.
It also appears Brick's Fine Furniture will be missed.
"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 of the Exchange District Business Improvement Zone told the Winnipeg Free Press. "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."
Cynthia Brick admits closing will be hard for her. "I'm on the floor selling every day. I'm working alongside the folks from Daniel Lynch," she said. "We're actually selling quite a lot and people have been bringing me cards saying how much they're going to miss (the store)."