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Rethinking The Store: Clodius & Co. Month 6: Gain and Loss

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Mark and Monika Clodius have been dealt one setback after another in their quest to expand their Rockford, IL, store, Clodius & Co. Since January, they have been planning for a September opening celebration with double the space of their current 2,000-square-foot showroom. For the first time, June bade well for the project – a dispute with city permitters was cleared up, and the contractor is optimistic about the completion date. However, a personal tragedy cast a pall over this welcome news and prevented the couple from taking joy in their professional endeavors.   

A DEATH IN THE FAMILY: Mark and Monika had just swallowed the shock of a 40 percent construction budget increase. They’d just returned from a successful show in Vegas, where they’d investigated new lines and larger quantities of merchandise to fill all their new linear footage of cases. They’d even taken a little time for themselves, zooming around the Chicagoland Speedway with the Richard Petty Driving Experience. And then tragedy struck: Monika learned that her 16-year-old nephew had suddenly died of natural causes while in a summer-school class. “It’s taken a lot of joy and the wind out of our sails,” Monika said. “It’s been very, very hard. You don’t expect to lose someone so young.”  

A BITTERSWEET GROUNDBREAKING: Contractors broke ground on the project June 22, excavating what had once been the drive-through lane of a bank building. “We were supposed to be happy and excited,” Monika said, “and there’s no joy there right now.”  

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COMPROMISE: While the Clodiuses will certainly look back on June as a time of personal pain, they will also in hindsight see that fate was being kind to them on the business front. The city worked out a compromise on the construction of a sidewalk that had plagued the project and prevented permits. The Clodiuses will, in fact, build a sidewalk on their property and through the right-of-way that abuts their neighbor’s property, but it will largely be paid for by rebates on permitting fees.  

A MESS: The property is beginning to resemble a construction site. An 8-by-8-by-40-foot storage container on the property holds the contents of the building’s garage. It sits next to a huge Dumpster. And the landscaper who had installed new landscaping a year ago came to dig up the same trees and shrubs to transplant them in a nursery until the construction crews leave. “It’s really starting to look interesting out there,” Monika said. Mark said some customers have come in, inquiring as to whether the store is moving to the nearby mall, where a Coldwater Creek store, which happens to have a similar logo, is being built.  

DONE AND TO DO: Checked off on the to-do list in June were lighting decisions (single metal halide fixtures for each case – their low running temperature reduces air-conditioning demand by 70 percent – and point-source illumination to bring out more fire in diamonds); color scheme choices (celery green and eggplant); scheduling steelwork (mid-July). On the to-do list for next month are choosing carpeting, the style of lighting fixtures, security features and telephone/computer wiring locations.  

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QUOTE: “Circumstances being different, we’d be quite pleased,” Mark said. “We’ve been beaten up so much, we’re taking more of a laissez-faire attitude. It’s almost like the project has a momentum of its own now.”

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