REPORTING · 2nd April 2012
After 15 years, Book Masters is going out of business. A locally owned business, they opened in Kitimat as a bookstore, expanded with a toy store and then, 8 years ago, added the electronic store, Radio Shack into the mix. Radio Shack later became the Source by Circuit City.
“We heard a rumour that The Source was looking to lease space in Kitimat. We emailed our Head Office to ask what was going on. The next day, we received a phone call and all they said was, ‘your contract is terminated and you have 90 days to discontinue as a source store,” wrote Linda Pitzel in a letter to the editor provided to the Kitimat Daily.
Pitzel wrote The Source closes down ‘Mom and Pop’ dealers and opens their own corporate stores with no explanation. The store has been a dealer of Source Products for 8 years.
Book Masters however, is not the only store affected by this. Pitzel explained, to get the storefront of choice for the new Source, two other businesses were displaced in Kitimat.
Last weekend, on Saturday March 24th, a second business in Kitimat, the Dragon Café, located in Upper City Centre Mall, closed its doors, as did the Sun Spot. Both stores were owned by Abilio Demelo. He has run the Dragon Café for 16 years.
He explained he is under the impression the Source wanted to move into the Kitimat Pizza Factory. They are still on a lease, while his ran out. “I assume they gave them my spot, which is the Dragon Café because I’m on Month to month, they sent me a letter saying they will no longer renew my lease. ‘I would like you out by the end of the month,’” said Demelo.
The Kitimat City Centre Mall declined our request for an interview.
Demelo also decided to close the Sunspot. With the rumours around town about a hotel coming into the mall, he decided not to wait to get kicked out of this location as well. He stated he would like reopen the Dragon if he was able to find a good location, for both his loyal customers and his employees.
“The only thing I’m bitter about is they could have considered other options [for the Source]. I’ve been there for 16 years. They have the downstairs, the old Bata Shoes available, the Sears building is available,” said Demelo.
Demelo stated The Source could have moved into the Old Sears location in the mall. If they put windows and an exit there would have improved the exterior of the mall.
The other displaced business is the Kitimat Pizza Factory. They will be moving into the space in the mall vacated by the Dragon. According to Jenny Lechner, Manager of Pizza Factory, the move will probably be taking place in the middle of May.
“We have to move everything. That’s an inconvenience,” said Lechner. “We have big ovens, that is an inconvenience to move. We were established in this space, it’s good to work in this space and we’re going to have to relearn everything.”
Pitzel attributed this to greed.
“The Source head office has closed down 10 stores in Alberta and BC. If you look at the dealers and their sales volume, you will know why we were all shut down. GREED. We were BC’s top sales seller for our population sizes,” wrote Pitzel. This is not the first time this has happened. In many slightly larger communities, they have been known to set up a corporate store where a dealer store exists. Usually, the community cannot support both.”
“We’re happy [our customers] supported us for 15 years. We’re going to miss it, the interaction with the people daily. We see many people in a day and many of them were good supporters of ours. We’re happy they came by to keep us going. It’s not the towns fault we’re being shut down… Its business,” said Ken Pitzel.
Demelo thanked his customers for the last 16 years. “They are the best in the world. I’m very happy with them,” said Demelo. He expressed sorrow for his regulars because they were displaced by this action as well.
On Saturday, March 31st, the Book Masters was given the Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Retail Business of the Year.
Re Linda Response
Comment by Linda M on 26th April 2012
Hi Linda Pitzel
I never said you suggested to boycott . It was Gary Edwards that suggested it and I think its a great idea. I loved your store and am very angry to see it go. This seems to be happening everywhere, large corperations pushing the small guy out or into bankruptcy. Look whats happening in Terrace with Walmart.. Its sad. Small business is what give a town some of its character.I will miss you and your husband, and being greeted by your little dogs.
Comment by Rory Brown on 16th April 2012
I think you need to read my comment again. At no time did I say to boycot The Source.
ONE FOR THREE NOT A BOOM
Comment by LINDA HALYK on 8th April 2012
Our Council needs to take a stand on Corporate injustice.
The District has kept that Mall viable for years, and to allow this kind of corporate bullying is unconscionable.
One for three is not a boom for Kitimat.
As Rory said we all need to BOYCOTT the SOURCE.
Comment by Rory Brown on 3rd April 2012
This is another hit for Kitimat. It shows what kind of people own the mall. It would be great if the Dragon Cafe and the Pizza Factory moved to a location not in the mall.
This is an example of what kind of people we, the tax payers of Kitimat, pay alot of rent to every month, year after year, for our "City Hall".