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January store closings pile up in Toledo area

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    Rhodes Garden Fresh in west Toledo on Monday. The local business that also sold fresh produce, plants and flowers at the Toledo Farmers Market, is not re-opening this spring.

    The Blade/Jetta Fraser
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    Rhodes Garden Fresh in west Toledo on Monday. The local business that also sold fresh produce, plants and flowers at the Toledo Farmers Market, is not re-opening this spring.

    The Blade/Jetta Fraser
    Buy This Image

Traditionally, January is a dark month for retailing — a time when store closings typically are announced — and Toledo is no exception.

Three popular local small businesses soon will disappear from the local retail landscape. But in an unusual turn, all will leave because of various circumstances that do not include finances, which usually is the chief reason for closing.

Rhodes Garden Fresh, a produce/​garden center at 4171 Monroe St., is for sale, but whether it is sold or not, owners Jeff and Barbara Rhodes will retire and exit the business by April.

Pam’s Corner, a popular eatery at 116 10th St., will close on Wednesday. Owner Pam Weirauch debated whether to stick around, but increasing demands on her time and energy left her feeling nearly overwhelmed. Better to walk away while the business is still sound than let it sink, she said.

RELATED: Impossible to forget Pam’s Corner

Also closing its store is Kathy’s Confections, at 2746 W. Sylvania Ave., but the bakery begun by owner Kathy Carey isn’t failing. It’s growing significantly through orders received directly via email and social media.

As such, Ms. Carey said on the business’ Facebook page that it is necessary to close the store to focus on direct sales. The business will close on Wednesday.

The three decisions come a week after the Williams Sonoma store in Toledo closed, and amidst the winding down of the Kmart in Oregon, which leaves at month’s end. National retailers Toys R Us and Sam’s Club recently announced multiple-store closings this month.

A local retail expert says don’t be surprised if there are more January announcements.

“There will be others. I know of several businesses that are marginal,” said Sam Zyndorf, a commercial real estate agent with the Toledo office of Signature Associates.

Mr. Zyndorf, who is representing the Rhodes in the sale of their business, said retail closings are more frequent in January than other months because businesses can review how they did the previous year and in the all-important fourth quarter.

“People who are marginal and struggling, they close their books and can see how they did the past year. If they’re not doing great, they have to ask themselves: Do they want to do it for another year? Is it worth it?” Mr. Zyndorf said.

Mr. Rhodes said there are other considerations in January — taxes, utilities, and insurance. Rhodes Garden Fresh is closed regularly from January through March, but operating costs don’t go away and owners must decide whether to keep paying them knowing the operation may close soon.

The Rhodes have run their business for 28 years and are ready to move on. They hope to sell the business intact, but if that doesn’t happen, why pay additional expenses, Mr. Rhodes said.

“You realize there’s some other things you could be doing and haven’t had time to do, like fishing,” he said.

January also gave Ms. Weirauch much to think about. She has a loyal clientele, but downtown competition is growing.

“I would need to think about the cost of taking the business to the next level,” she said.

And that means more time, more money, and more energy. She already spends the whole week running Pam’s Corner, she said.

“I set out to accomplish something and I think I did. But I started to think I was in business long enough,” Ms. Weirauch said.

And her Toledo Health De- partment license expires soon. Why spend the money if only to decide demands are becoming too much? “Timing is everything,” she said.

On Facebook, Ms. Carey said she didn’t foresee her bakery evolving into “primarily custom orders of cakes, cookies, etc., as well as weddings and events.” With that part of the business growing “it has become clear that we no longer require a storefront to do this.”

Kathy’s Confections will be open four hours on its last day and will give free coffee and conversation to any customer that wants to stop and reminisce. “We will miss the conversations, the hugs, the smiles,” Ms. Carey wrote.

Contact Blade Business Writer Jon Chavez at jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.

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