Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA – It may have been the most emotional moment ever to occur in the Plaza Shoe Shop's parking lot. That was where, at last Thursday’s monthly Arcata Chamber of Commerce First Thursday Mixer, Gene Joyce announced the end of Arcata Exchange.
The longtime downtown furniture store started 42 years ago in the Pythian castle, then moved to the current Mazzotti’s spot and from there, to its current location on the corner of Eighth and H streets.
While proprietor Gene Joyce, who started as a salesperson in 1998, is known for his unflagging good cheer and zest for community life, the grind of keeping a brick-and-mortar furniture shop going in today’s difficult retail world has worn him down. “I’m kind of tired, doing this day in and day out for 20 years,” he said. “I’ve loved it all, but there are other things we want to do.”
He and wife April are planning a holiday trip to Budapest, Hungary, and wish to travel extensively – something you can’t do with a retail business to run.
Selling Arcata Exchange to someone else wasn’t an option for Joyce. “Maybe it’s my ego, but I’d hate to sell it to someone else and see it go down in flames.”
While he’s not aware of any immediate replacement business for the prime retail spot in the building owned by former partner Christine Long, he notes that “nothing stays vacant very long – it’s the best property in downtown Arcata.
The “Last Waltz Summer Sale,” now in progress, offers 15 percent all merchandise. That, Joyce said, should pay off the usual business debt as well as take care of the store’s four employees “very well.” Special orders may still be made as long as the store is open.
Joyce was characteristically positive and generous in his comments about the change. “Everything is a new opportunity,” he said. “Friends and family re what matter. Remember to always be positive, polite, respectful and helpful to one another and continue to help build a better community and world.”