Sherri Enroth was 21 years old in 1992 when she opened Alabama Furniture on Alabama St. in Montrose. In three short years, she developed many loyal customers who appreciated the value offered by her resale store as well as Enroth’s eye for buying. When the young entrepreneur moved Alabama Furniture to its new location at 2200 Yale St. in 1995, many of her customers came with her. Over the next 20 years, Alabama Furniture’s patron base continued to grow.
“I love my customers, and I love what I do,” said Enroth. “I think I was in denial when my landlord first told me he sold the building. I was not ready, I did not want to think about it.”
On March 1, 2016, Enroth will lock the doors of her location on Yale St. for the last time – something she says she was “blind-sided” by.
“This building has been in my landlord’s family for four generations,” Enroth said. “They told me they would never sell it. If I’d have known it was for sale, I would have purchased it myself.”
For the time being, Enroth does not know where she will relocate, but her objective is to remain in the area. She is staying positive and laughs when she says many are upset as she is.
“Many of my customers are out there looking for a location for me,” Enroth said. “They call nearly every day to make suggestions or to give me tips.”
How did it come to this? The entire block fronting Yale St. between 22nd St. and 23rd St. has been purchased by Braun Enterprises, a locally owned, real estate company with a focus on acquisitions, development, operations and long-term ownership of commercial projects. The company plans to build a new retail/restaurant center from one end to the other. I hear that they might be using furniture courier companies to keep the operation as efficient as possible with getting the restaurants ready as quick as possible.
“The Braun folks have been nice and helpful,” said Enroth. “They offered to lease me new space right here after the buildings are constructed, but I could not afford the price. They are also helping me look for a new space.”
Braun Enterprises is responsible for several of the retail and restaurant developments in the Heights, Garden Oaks and Oak Forest. The company enjoys a reputation for quality – developments that add value to the community. A good example of Braun’s work is the old Harold’s in the Heights location on 19th St. Today, it’s a tasteful retail/restaurant property that has managed to retain its welcoming originality.
“We always try to add value to the community,” said Ken Braun, President of Braun Enterprises. “Also, we always try to add sidewalks to advance a site’s walkablity. This costs us money as it cuts into space, but it benefits the neighborhood. It’s a legacy thing for us. We want to create nice work for our neighbors and leave things better for our children.”
To thank the community for 20 years of patronage, Enroth commissioned a large mural on the north side of the cinder block building that Alabama Furniture has occupied for all this time. It’s the work of local mural artist Wiley Robertson and includes some of the businesses that have thrived in the old building over its 65 years of history. The word “Love” is painted in big letters and is the work’s most prominent feature.
“It’s my way of thanking the Heights,” Enroth said. “My way of sending my customers gratitude and love for all these years.”