102 Ave. bridge construction ‘nail in the coffin’ for Edmonton’s Call the Kettle Black
EDMONTON — A local specialty kitchen shop which has been in business for nearly 20 years is closing its doors, saying the downturn in the economy and construction on the 102 Avenue bridge are partially to blame.
“The bridge, of course, has been the nail in the coffin for us… two years with little help in the Christmas season,” Gordon Kaser, the original owner of Call the Kettle Black said Tuesday.
“It’s been a killer.”
Kaser opened Call the Kettle Black on 125 Street and 102 Avenue in 1996. The family-owned business also had a store in Riverbend and three stores in Vancouver, all of which have since closed their doors.
Call the Kettle Black has been a fixture in Edmonton for nearly two decades and Kaser said the decision to close was not made lightly.
Construction on the 102 Avenue bridge began in July 2014. The $32-million project was originally scheduled to be complete by September 2015, but after troubles with the bridge girders, the city said the opening date is now more likely to be the summer or fall of 2016.
With less consumer traffic and competition coming from online shopping, Kaser said it was getting tough to keep up.
“We can’t compete with that. We’ve got rent to pay, we’ve got advertising to pay, we have staff to pay and utilities and everything else,” Kaser said.
“When you’re losing money 11 months of the year you can’t operate a business anymore.”
Emily Deveaux, the executive director of University of Alberta’s School of Retailing, said while the province is in an economic downturn, there are no numbers to suggest consumers are spending any less money.
“Every quarter, the numbers are stable or they’ve increased a little bit so we don’t have any number to prove that because of the economic state of Alberta or the country right now that that’s had any impact on how people are spending,” Deveaux explained.
She said there are often many factors that go into a decision to close up shop, including where the owners are in their life, how business is performing, rental increases and changes in the retail sector.
When it comes to Call the Kettle Black, Deveaux said the store’s success should be celebrated.
“Almost every Edmontonian, I would say, above the age of 20 knows about that brand and that’s a lot. That’s a big success story and I don’t think this is a negative,” Deveaux said.
“They fought the good fight and having 20 years in the retail business and a true success story and I wish that we would celebrate them as a success.”
For Kaser, who is now retired, seeing the doors close isn’t easy.
“Kind of emotional,” he said, holding back tears, “a lot of good people.”
Call the Kettle Black will close for good at the end of the month.
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