The two Chalet Cadeau gift shops on Central Way in the heart of downtown Kirkland have closed after six years and are moving to Bothell.
Formerly in Kenmore on Bothell Way, the shops Chalet Cadeau Christmas and Chalet Cadeau Gifts were opened at 116 and 132 Central Way by owner Wendy Marshall in 2006. The shops' doors in Kirkland were closed for good in late December. They will reopen in March at a new Safeway shopping center at 24110 Bothell-Everett Highway.
Wendy Marshall's husband, Jeff Marshall, said Wednesday they would have preferred to stay in Kirkland. But they closed the shops due to a combination of the aging condition of the buildings they were leasing and serious parking issues downtown -- which he said the city needs to do a better job of addressing.
"We would rather not move," he said. "You can imagine how much is involved if you've ever been inside the shops, with literally hundreds of thousands of items to move."
Marshall said downtown parking problems are chronic, and exacerbated by frequent weekend events the city core hosts, such as runs, walks, festivals, parades, bike rides and car shows.
"The parking problem our customers frequently complained about, and they'd say, 'We just won't come in to the shop when there are events downtown,'" he said.
The roof of the main store leaked significantly, and during heavy rain, drainage issues in the alley behind the Christmas store led to water damage inside. "It's become an operational issue for us," Marshall said. "It's just become too hard to grow the business."
They two shops were popular among Kirkland residents and scored strong reviews on Internet sites such as Yelp. One resident noted on the Kirkland Patch Facebook page that she noticed the closure recently while driving through downtown and said, "I loved that store, they had such a great variety of gifts. What a shock!"
Marshall said he and his wife hope the following in Kirkland the shops established would follow them to Bothell.
"We have completely enjoyed all of our customers in this area," he said. "The main message I would leave is, it would really help if the city would take a look at the downtown businesses and (the impact of) events, and the parking. There could be come more creative solutions."
Parking has long been a problem in downtown Kirkland, and a proposal to help address the issue by charging all-day fees at two city lots downtown was rejected by the City Council last spring after a hostile public reaction.