Domestic Laundry building selling again

FILE  The Domestic Laundry building at 1425 E. Douglas. (Sept. 18, 2012)UPDATED — The Domestic Laundry building is so popular, it’s selling for the second time in less than two years.

“Yes . . . surprisingly enough,” says Transitions Group owner Bill Jackson. “Someone else wants it worse than we do.”

Jackson and six employees bought the building at 1425 E. Douglas just east of Old Town in September 2012.

“We never had any intent of buying it to sell it,” Jackson says. “We love the building and love the community along there.”

Jackson says he understands the buyer wants the building’s first floor space fronting Douglas for a showroom and then will use third floor space for offices.

It looks like Joe Hayes is buying the building for his Open Road Brands business, which creates reproductions of nostalgic signs and other Americana memorabilia.

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ACI Design Studio to close

WICHITA — After not quite five years in business, ACI Design Studio is closing.

Former Abode Home manager Brent Dorrah had the idea for Abode Commercial Interiors and convinced Transitions Group owner Bill Jackson to start the company around the time Abode converted to an event center. The upscale furniture store is in Jackson’s Domestic Design Building at 1425 E. Douglas.

“The store’s been improving each year, and as a matter of fact, we’ve had our best year ever this year,” Dorrah says.

However, he says, “We’ve still struggled.”

Dorrah says it’s been a challenging period in the industry, and Internet sales are now more popular than ever.

“We’ve just struggled to kind of get towards profitability basically each year,” he says. “I don’t think there’s any one reason.”

Dorrah says “that’s the sad reason” behind the closure. There’s a happier reason, though.

Transitions Group also owns Furniture Options and ExecuStay.

“They’re doing extremely well,” Dorrah says. “They’re experiencing a lot of growth. … Fiscally, it makes more sense for us to focus our energies on those businesses.”

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Abode Home to become the Venue at Abode

abodeWICHITA — It’s a tough market to try and lease a 10,000-square-foot building, let alone sell it, so Bill Jackson and his son, Josh, are turning their Abode Home space into the Venue at Abode.

“I don’t even want to admit it, but a couple of years ago I started thinking if this furniture thing doesn’t work out, it would make a great venue,” Josh Jackson says.

So when the furniture store on Douglas just east of Old Town closed about a month ago, he says they decided, “Let’s give it a shot.”

Through the years, Abode hosted various events.

To do it full time, though, Josh Jackson says he has to make a few changes.

For starters, he’s adding bathrooms. A lot of them.

There also will be an expanded prep area for caterers.

“Obviously, we need to beef up our air conditioner,” Josh Jackson says, referring to a steamy fundraising event that was held at the space Saturday.

That event had been booked for months, but there won’t be any more for several weeks until the space is reconfigured.

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Picture Framing & More to close in Old Town Square

WICHITA — Brett Osburn is closing his Picture Framing & More in Old Town Square after almost six years in business, but he’s not blaming the economy.

“The economy is definitely not helping out,” he says.

The bigger problem, Osburn says, is Old Town.

His business has “never been what I hoped for.”

The store’s average ticket is good, Osburn says, but he doesn’t see enough customers.

“That’s been the No. 1 problem since Day 1,” he says.

“I don’t get the sense that people out east (or) out west are coming down.”

Even though Old Town boasts a number of unique businesses, Osburn says, he’s not sure most Wichitans even know they’re there.

“I don’t think a lot of Wichitans are using the area or even know what’s down here,” he says.

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Abode Home to close this summer

WICHITA — Not quite six years after trying to bring business to downtown, Bill Jackson is closing his Abode Home.

“We’ve got a lot of bummed people,” Jackson says. “We tried for six years and just absolutely could not make it work.”

When Jackson chose to open his contemporary furnishing store just east of Old Town at 1330 E. Douglas, a lot of people questioned if the concept would work there.

A focus group, though, convinced Jackson that the store could be successful.

“They thought downtown would be a good place for people east and west to come shop,” he says.

That didn’t happen, though, so Jackson will close sometime in July.

“We finally had to say it wasn’t going to work.”

Part of the problem has been the economy, Jackson says.

He belongs to an association of furniture retailers, and he says they’re all reporting poor sales.

“Absolutely none of them have made any money in the last four or five years,” he says. “It’s just been a horrible time in the furniture business for the last 10 years.”

Nothing will change with Jackson’s Furniture Options furniture rentals or his Marriott ExecuStay corporate housing.

“For now, we’ve got a lot of other things to focus on that are profitable . . . that we just need to work on and grow,” Jackson says.

Also, Abode Commercial Interiors will stay in business and have a showroom in the Furniture Options building at 1336 E. Douglas. ACI will handle any issues related to products or warranties on items purchased from Abode Home after the store closes.

The experience with Abode Home hasn’t changed how Jackson feels about downtown.

“We believe in downtown Wichita awfully a lot. We’re a firm believer.”