Author Archives: Carrie Rengers

Invio Fine Furniture Consignment’s business has ‘gone crazy’ at its new space

WICHITA — Invio Fine Furniture Consignment’s move from North Rock Road to 535 N. Woodlawn next to Great Harvest Bread has been a great one, says Annie Johnsen, who owns the business with her husband, Eric.

“We moved here in October, and everything has just gone crazy,” she says. “Our business has probably tripled.”

On the far east side, the store was 3,600 square feet. Now Invio has 4,400 square feet. In addition to more space, Johnsen says, the business is so much better, items rotate in and out more quickly.

She says she thinks a lot of her business comes from people either downsizing or combining households. When customers combine households, she says, that means they have to try to match their furniture. So she says Invio is now carrying fabrics to help people redo furniture that they want to keep.

The store also is now doing color consultations and is helping with some design work.

Johnsen says she’s hired more employees – there used to be two and now there are five – and may need to add one more.

Artist Christine Tasheff, who does a lot of furniture painting, is now working in the front of the store doing portraits, which Johnsen says is an added bonus.

“It’s kind of fun to see her in action up there.”

You don’t say

“I keep waiting for Sam Brownback to send me business cards with the state seal on it.”

– Restaurateur and caterer Ben Arnold, who says he feels more like he’s in the tax business, though he’s resolved his latest issue over $7,222 in contested taxes at A.V.I. Seabar & Chophouse

Don’s TV & Video going out of business

WICHITA — Another chapter in Wichita business is coming to a close.

Don’s TV & Video, which the late Don Shaw opened as Don’s Radio after World War II, is going out of business.

“It isn’t profitable anymore,” says co-owner Steve Eilert. “Hasn’t been for a while.”

Don’s TV & Video owners Ron Zerbe (from left) and Steve Eilert with his wife, Sandy, and longtime employee Ron Landwehr.

Don’s TV & Video owners Ron Zerbe (from left) and Steve Eilert with his wife, Sandy, and longtime employee Ron Landwehr.

Eilert is partners with Ron Zerbe. The two used to work for Shaw, who started the business after getting out of the Navy and at one point changed the name to Don’s Radio & Television.

“He’s quite a guy,” Eilert says.

Originally, the store was located at First Street and where the Canal Route is now. Then it moved to its current site at the northeast corner of Second and Hydraulic. Eilert and Zerbe bought it in 1979.

“I think anybody who earns a living doing one thing for 50 years can expect that you might see the birth, life and death of industry, you know?” Eilert says.

He says the business has changed “tremendously” through the years. Still, he can sum up what’s changed in one word:

“Everything.”

It used to be the store’s employees would make $5 service calls, sell a few tubes or maybe clean a tuner “then come back and do it again a year later.”

“You got to know your customers pretty well,” Eilert says. “An independent shop didn’t need but a thousand or 2,000 customers to make a good living.”

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You don’t say

“Don’t ever let anyone tell you that an English or dance degree won’t provide you with tangible skills.”

Aaron Wirtz of Subaru of Wichita on the music video parody he made of the union protest against the dealership

Tutoring Center to open at Village at Greenwich

WICHITA — Sachin Bharati’s two small children aren’t old enough for school and test-taking yet, but he’s already thinking of their future and starting a Tutoring Center franchise here.

The business, which is part of a California-based chain, will open this summer next to Supercuts in 1,400 square feet at the Village at Greenwich at 21st and Greenwich.

“I was just really intrigued by the program,” Bharati says.

The franchise offers an after-school education center for children from kindergarten through 12th grade and specializes in reading, math and writing.

“It’s all one-to-one individual instruction for children,” Bharati says.

The franchise also has SAT and ACT prep classes, which Bharati won’t have immediately “but hopefully down the line.”

“That was a really strong factor, too,” he says of his interest in the franchise.

Initially, Bharati will have two to four instructors.

“It depends on the demand after that.”

Bharati is the business manager for his father Ralph Bharati’s psychiatry office, which he’ll continue to do in addition to having the Tutoring Center.

“Basically,” he says, “I wanted to bring something to the community here for the children.”

Dentist Chris Hickerson to open new practice at Spring Creek in Derby

WICHITA — Derby dentist Chris Hickerson had already been thinking of starting his own practice when his employer asked him to sign a contract.

“I just really didn’t want to get tied down,” Hickerson says.

That’s why he’s decided to start his own practice.

“I thought, well, this is probably just as good of time as any.”

Hickerson’s self-named practice will be in the Spring Creek shopping center, an Occidental Management property in Derby at the southeast corner of Madison and Rock Road.

The practice, which will be in 2,000 square feet, will open sometime next week.

“I’d like to say Monday, but it’s hard to say,” Hickerson says.

Austin Kinzle of Healthcare Real Estate Group handled the deal.

Hickerson says he’ll offer general dental care for all ages along with some orthodontics. He says he’s also an Invisalign provider and will repair implants, which he says he hopes to also place in the future.

Eventually, he says he may also add an associate dentist to his staff.

“For a good while, it’ll probably just be me.”

Hickerson says he chose to name the practice after himself for a reason.

“I feel like I wanted people to know it was a locally owned and operated kind of place.”

Firehouse Subs is first tenant at new strip center at NewMarket Square

WICHITA — Slawson Cos. is preparing to start building a strip center in front of the SuperTarget at NewMarket Square later this month and has landed its first tenant for it: Firehouse Subs.

“We acquired from Target an outparcel basically in front of their NewMarket Square store that’ll be just north of the Intrust Bank … branch bank,” says Slawson’s Jerry Jones.

Firehouse Subs will be in 2,000 square feet on the north end of the 10,000-square-foot center.

Jones says two other potential deals for the center are in advance stages of negotiation. If they happen, that would leave 2,800 square feet to lease to a tenant or 1,400 square feet each for two tenants.

Firehouse Subs franchisees Dana and Troy Todd would like to do five of the restaurants in the greater Wichita area. Franchisees Megan and Andrew Reece opened Wichita’s first Firehouse late last year at Eastgate Plaza at Kellogg and Rock Road.

Dana Todd says NewMarket Square is a great place to open Firehouse.

“It’s a well-established area, and it seems to be continuing to grow.”

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You don’t say

“Of course you can. This is your building.”

Lou Heldman’s response when Tom Devlin asked if he could make a couple of statements before the start of a WSU entrepreneurship forum at Devlin Hall Tuesday

Oliver’s Little Italy to close Saturday; owner may reopen new restaurant

UPDATED — Scott Cosentino is closing his Oliver’s Little Italy on Saturday.

He says the restaurant at 1930 S. Oliver, which opened in late September, was in a bad location, had no money, no point of sale system and not very good help.

“Shall I continue?” he says.

Cosentino, a New Jersey native, hopes to open another restaurant soon with a financial backer. He says this time it may be in Wellington or Park City.

He says the one issue Oliver’s Little Italy didn’t have was a problem with the food, which Cosentino says he’ll prove once again when he reopens.

“I would show all of the restaurants of the town how to make good Italian food, because they don’t know.”

Longtime shop L.J. Pracht Co. slated to close; executor hopes to keep it open

WICHITA — Wichita may be losing another one of its oldest retail shops.

Perhaps not unexpectedly, L.J. Pracht Co., a one-of-a-kind wrapping store that also sells jewelry making supplies at 1500 E. Douglas, is slated to close on April 25.

Owner Jim Pracht III died more than two years ago.

However, Willi Richert, executor of Pracht’s estate, isn’t willing to make the store’s closure final yet.

“What is it Mark Twain said? His passing was greatly exaggerated,” Richert says.

“Hopefully, we’ve got a couple of different people who are showing interest, and maybe we can continue. That’s been my hope from the start.”

Pracht’s grandfather opened the store on Main Street in 1923.

“It’s been an integral part of the city for a lot of years – almost 100 – and you hate to see a business like that close down,” Richert says.

“It’s a unique store that reflects a different time, but it’s still a necessary product that they sell.”

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