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Rethinking The Store: Clodius & Co. Month 8: End In Sight?

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Mark and Monika Clodius have been hard at it, expanding their Rockford, IL, store, Clodius & Co. since the beginning of the year, and INSTORE has been there with them, tracking their ups and downs. In July, they wrestled with the security risks posed by dozens of unfamiliar workmen at their store, they fretted over delays in steelwork, and they tried not to pull their hair out over problems little and big on the homefront. The month of August brought more frustrations, but it also brought the knowledge that they’ve come to deal with those frustrations better.

THE SKIES LET LOOSE: We’ve had 14 inches of rain this month, Monika says about August. It’s meant some wet ceilings, ruined ceiling tiles, even some water in display cases and, oh yes, three unexplained burglar alarms. We’ve had a baptism by water, Mark jokes. 

GROWING ENTERPRISE: On the addition, the walls are up, the roof is on, and the contractor is nearly ready to begin tearing out the wall that separates the old from the new. Monika moved her office temporarily to a trailer, where she’s been interviewing job candidates for the two to three new staff members the larger store will require. Also, Clodius & Co. is now open on Mondays. The measure means in the short term a loss of one of Mark and Monika’s weekend days, but it fits into the strategy of expanding the building and business. The whole goal is to get the business large enough where it doesn’t need an owner to run it on a day-to-day basis, Mark says. 

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VACATION? WHAT VACATION? A planned family trip to a lake was pre-empted for Monika when her mother had unexpected surgery. Mark and the kids were able to go, but Monika stayed behind to care for her mother, who also happens to be the store’s display manager. It’s been a very trying time for me, Monika says, and I think I’m exhibiting a lot of personal growth. 

HITCHES: Monika had the chance to exhibit more growth when it turned out an essential element of the architect’s plans proved impossible. A 10-foot window central to the new façade? Oh yeah, you can get the glass, but no one’s guaranteeing that it won’t break right away. You’d think an architect would know something like this, Monika says. So they tweaked the design and braced for the next challenge … which was: The loan money hasn’t come through yet. Months ago when everything was approved, no one told them the paperwork couldn’t proceed if they didn’t up their life-insurance coverage. It’s been all these little stupid things, Monika says. It’s not like the bank’s never done all this before. 

THE PROGNOSIS: Word came from the contractor on the completion date: Oct. 20-24, just three weeks later than they’d been planning all along. Considering how late we got started, Mark says, omitting the setbacks, personal tragedies, torrential rains and bureaucratic flubs, that’s really remarkable.

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