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What Was Two Now One

Two local businesses have decided to consolidate dual locations into one. In each case the primary reason is to better serve their customers coupled with decreasing overhead -- namely two leases, not personnel.

ABACA, owned by Jim and Catherine Helwig, has closed its location at 524 N. Fayette St. and consolidated all remaining merchandise from that location to their store at 1201 Royal St. and warehouse at 1120 N. Fairfax St. "The store officially closed Sunday with a very successful sales," said Jim Helwig.

"What was left from Fayette Street, which was very little, we moved to our warehouse. That warehouse, which is just around the corner from our Royal Street location, will be open on weekends for our customers," he said.

Due to the construction of new mixed use buildings in the 500 block of North Fayette Street, Helwig felt that his business at that location had suffered more than he had anticipated. "Our lease was due to expire and the landlord was going to raise the rent substantially," Helwig said.

"Why sit there with hardly any business, paying more rent until the construction is completed, when 80 percent of our business is generated by the North Royal Street shop," he asked rhetorically. All employees of the closed shop are being retained for the North Royal Street location, he verified.

ABACA actually started at the location on North Fairfax they now consider their warehouse. They specialize in Asian furniture and accessories.

This past January Helwigs introduced a deck and patio line of all "premium teak wood from Indonesia." It is marketed in the building across the courtyard from their main store. Customers can find a wide variety of finely crafted teak outdoor furnishing ranging from dropleaf tables, to lounges, to portable bars and much more.

"Our tagline is "Bringing The World To your Home," he said. "And, we've had some very happy customers these last few days of the sale."

ANOTHER North Fayette Street location to bite the dust is 102 which houses a second Arts Afire Glass Gallery. That also is being consolidated to a second shop located at 1117 King St., according to owner and president, Joseph M. Egerton.

"My lease was up on Fayette Street and the business climate in Alexandria right now doesn't warrant the overhead of operating two locations. The King Street store is larger and will afford our customers one-stop shopping rather than running between two locations. Many of our customers have told us they are glad we are consolidating," Egerton said.

Here also, the sale has been going "very well," according to Egerton. "This is really when you find out what everybody likes. If its gone when they come in they let you know," he said.

Egerton plans to be completely out of the North Fayette Street location by the end of August. "We plan to start the actual move by mid August. The King Street store also offers us better shopper traffic and exposure," he said.

Egerton opened his Fayette Street store in 2000 and the King Street location in 2004. His four full time employees will remain. He also employs a variety of part-time employees depending on seasonal demands. "I'm looking forward to having an easier operation to managed," he said.

"We also plan to develop stronger on-line shopping. We have had a web page but it needs updating and more promotion," Egerton said.

Arts Afire Glass Gallery specializes in unusual glass craft pieces from household decorative and utilitarian items to jewelry. Fayette Street location sale prices offer savings from 20 to 70 percent.