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Rethinking The Store: Clodius & Co. Month 9: Knock On Wood’

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Nine months into their Rockford, IL, store addition, Mark and Monika Clodius are past their wits’ end and are feeling the excitement of wrapping up a project that’s had more unexpected downs than ups. At the beginning of the year, they set out to double the 2,000-square-foot showroom, add offices and update the exterior. While they braced for the inevitable construction delays and bureaucratic hitches, they couldn’t prepare themselves for the personal setbacks, unforeseen glitches and freaks of nature that INSTORE has reported monthly. Only now, nearing the end, is it beginning to seem as if the worst is behind them.
 
 
 
PROGRESS REPORT: All the walls are up, the drywall is ready for paint, the exterior scaffolding is down and finishing touches are going on the façade. There’s so much room everywhere, Monika says. This is the first time since things went sour that I’ve really felt the excitement. A new safe fits flush onto one wall, extending into a storage room, and a 16-foot counter will offer three workstations for simultaneous sales, replacing the single POS counter in the old store. It’s so awesome to walk through there, Mark says. 

SIMPLY DIVINE: The joke goes that only God and the power company know when your electricity will be hooked up, Mark says. Because power to the entire store would be cut for an indeterminate amount of time while the new electrical service was installed at a time announced at the power company’s whim Mark and Monika had the staff prepared. They happened to be away in Los Angeles for a Financially In-Tune (FIT) Group meeting when the moment came. For two hours during the middle of a business day, the power company cut the power while the electrician connected the new service. They did things the old-fashioned way, Mark explains. Staff members monitored the door, showed jewelry with flashlights and wrote up sales on tickets. Everything went smoothly, and Mark and Monika pointed out what a great drill it was to enact their emergency plan. 

STILL TO COME: From an operational standpoint, Monika has her hands full, training new staff members and recording new inventory that’s arriving daily. On the construction end, the ceiling, lighting, security system, casework and paint need to be finished on the inside, and on the exterior, the landscaping and exterior signs have yet to be installed. Mark notes that the tradesmen have been scratching their heads over a main display window feature that’s turned 45 degrees, and he’s going crazy from all the little details. You have to drop everything to figure out where an outlet is going.  

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IT’S ALL HOW YOU LOOK AT IT: In any given construction project, there are two things you can count on: budget and schedule overruns. The Clodius & Co. expansion project began with a $500,000 budget and a completion goal of Sept. 10. Looking at a real-life $700,000 total bill and an end-of-October completion date definitely takes an ability to see the silver lining. With the bulk of the troubles behind him, Mark has made peace with the inflated figures and adopts a tone of confident caution: We’re on budget, knock on wood. We’re on time, knock on wood.

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