Janelle King finds new Workroom space

WICHITA — Designer Janelle King has found new space for her Workroom, and it’s remarkably similar to her current space.

“It is just right around the corner from us,” King says of 150 N. Cleveland, which is just south of the southeast corner of Douglas and Cleveland.

Her landlord will be Bill Jackson, who is one of the landlords she’s had at the Domestic Laundry building at 1425 E. Douglas, which is just east of Old Town.

The building owners recently sold to Joe Hayes and his Open Road Brands, which is why King is having to move.

King says Jackson is “very supportive of me and my business.”

“He supports downtown growth and development as well as the local arts industry and local businesses,” she says. “That was a big … selling point for me.”

King expects to open at the Cleveland address by June 1, although she says she may not have the business’ retail space entirely ready to go.

“During the entire month of May, we’re going to do a moving sale,” she says.

Before that, though, she’s going to celebrate the one-year anniversary of her store, which has retail and offers what King calls home tech textile fabrication, such as custom drapes, pillows and bedding.

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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.”

Read More »

Bill Jackson and six employees purchase Domestic Laundry building on Douglas

Bill Jackson, one of the new owners of the Domestic Laundry building, says of this vintage photo of the building and all its delivery trucks, "Yep, the laundry business must have been very good back then. I guess there probably wasn't a washer and dryer in every home or maybe not even in hotels."

WICHITA — Wichita’s well-known Domestic Laundry building at 1425 E. Douglas has a new owner.

“We’ve all loved that building for a long time,” says Bill Jackson, Transitions Group owner, of himself and six employees who bought the building.

Jackson has been leasing space in the building for his ACI Design Studio for the last couple of years.

“A group of my employees who have been with me for a long time — some of them up to 25 years — and myself formed a little LLC and bought it.”

DL 1425, which stands for Domestic Laundry and the building’s address, includes Karen Cundiff, whom Jackson describes as an instrumental player in the Douglas Design District; Brent Dorrah, who runs ACI; Barney Lehnherr; Brendan Hogan; and Jackson’s children Piper Ayala and Josh Jackson.

Bill Jackson says they’d hoped to have another name for their LLC, but “every interesting, fun name was taken.”

Jackson says the Domestic Laundry building is a key piece of Douglas and his group will do what it can to improve its stature.

“That part of East Douglas was always known for its neon signage,” he says.

He points to GLMV Architecture’s prominent new sign just down the street and says his group would like to do something similar.

Jackson says he has pictures of the “cool signage” from the building’s early history and may use that for inspiration.

“We were thinking about maybe looking into the possibility of maybe redesigning the sign that’s up there now.”

Read More »

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.

Read More »

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.”