"I don't know exactly how long gentrification is supposed to take, but after five years I now clearly understand it's a much longer process than I thought it was. It's just not happening fast enough for us."
That's Tim Kempf, co-owner of the design and home furnishings boutique duoHome
, on the recent decision to uproot his homegrown business from the ever-evolving Gordon Square Arts District
to a new home at Fairmount and Taylor in Cleveland Heights.
Kempf and partner Scott Suscowicz were lured by the appeal of a "dedicated design district" alongside Paul Hamlin Interiors, Paysage and others in the quaint district known as The Shoppes of Fairmount. Less than stellar sales prompted a citywide search.
"The particular retail term is gravity," says Kempf. "Our district has marketed itself as an arts and entertainment district. The councilman and CDC have worked hard to attract new businesses. There just isn't enough retail gravity there yet."
Although Gordon Square has made amazing strides in the past five years, Kempf says the area needs more like-minded retailers to be viable for design businesses.
Asked if there are lessons to be learned, he elaborates, "I don't think you'd ever say to your wife, 'Hey honey, let's go get a drink and dinner, then look at home furnishings, then go to the ballet.' People don't buy a sofa every other week."
In other words, destination retailers like duoHome fare best when located next to complementary stores. "It's a whole lifestyle block," he says of Taylor-Fairmount.
The decision wasn't made lightly or easily. Kempf received recruitment calls from nearly every corner of the city once word was out. "We looked at all different neighborhoods in Cleveland, east and west. Even the 'burbs, God forbid."
Kempf has mixed feelings about leaving Detroit Shoreway because he loves the area. "It's sort of like when you're a child and have to go to a new school," he says. "Scott and I walk into Gypsy and they know what we want so they just make it."
Although Gordon Square is now losing duoHome, it is also celebrating the success of other soon-to-open, new retailers, including Yellowcake and Honeycomb Salon.
Nick Fedor, Economic Development Director for the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization, stated in an email, "DSCDO wishes duoHOME the best of luck at their new location and thanks them for their contributions to the Gordon Square Arts District over the past five plus years. We are proud that Gordon Square served as an incubator to launch their business, and others as well."
He added, "We have a number of interested potential tenants for the space and look forward to making an announcement when a lease agreement has been reached."
duoHome will continue to emphasize well-priced home decor and home furnishings with an eye toward midcentury design. The duo behind duoHome also plan to ramp up interior design services, a growing part of their repertoire.
duoHome's new, 1,200 foot store at 3479 Fairmount Boulevard will open April 1st. "April Fool's Day," says Kempf with a laugh. "We hope that it's a good day for us."
Source: Tim Kempf
Writer: Lee Chilcote