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Roy's Rebuilding After Fire

By Spencer Most and Jori Liefschultz
@RedLineProject

PostedMonday, Nov. 12, 2013

Roy’s Home Furnishings plans to rebuild on the same site near DePaul and the El tracks where the former furniture store burned down in a multi-alarm fire last May.

Management hopes to begin construction on the new building immediately, and open its doors as soon as January 2013. Plans for the rebuild can be viewed on the company website.

“The new store is going to look much more contemporary,” said general manager Stacey Flood, “it’s going to seem fresher and more attractive to neighbors and Lincoln Park community members."

While in between stores, Roy’s moved its operations to the Pilsen area at 2315 W 27th St., and is working from the company’s warehouse. This also functions as the temporary showroom and is open to the public. Additionally, the Roy’s website is being used for conducting some of its business during this transitional time.

“We have the best customers in the world,” Flood said, describing the loyalty and support of their customers following the fire. “Many have followed us here after the rebuild, or bought a piece of furniture just to show support."

“I heard about the fire and wanted to support the store, but my husband and I were fans of Roy’s before that. They’re a good family company; take care of their customers; good quality,” said Lincoln Park resident Julie McKeough on making the trip to the Pilsen location.

According to Flood, the company’s connection to its customers and the Lincoln Park neighborhood is the reason for rebuilding on the same site. Roy’s originally opened at 2455 N. Sheffield Ave. in 1981, and is largely considered a Lincoln Park staple.

“There was no other option besides Lincoln Park,” Flood said about options for the new store location. “We’ve been in Lincoln Park for over 30 years. We build relationships with customers from the neighborhood; some we’ve known for 10 years.

The fire that devastated the furniture store on May 29 broke out around 3:30 p.m. and took about 160 firefighters several hours to put out. As the store burned next to the El tracks, CTA trains were shut down on Red, Purple and Brown lines throughout Lincoln Park.

The mutual loyalty and support between Roy’s and its customers was evident when the former building was completely destroyed by the fire. Flood recalled local community members calling and e-mailing their support.

“Many people offered any kind of help they could; some volunteered to help pick up and sort through the debris; some offered to provide trucks or other materials they had available,” she said.

Flood happened to be in the building on May 29, the day the fire broke out. According to her, it began in the back of the store, closest to the El train tracks, where the warehouse was located and stocked with furniture.

“It was terrifying,” Flood said in describing that day, “I just remember not knowing exactly what to do. And making sure everyone was ok. I’m still so relieved and glad everyone got out and was unharmed.”

Roy’s employee Sebastian Ciejka recalled rushing to the scene on his day off after hearing news of the fire.

“All the surrounding streets were closed; I could see smoke from blocks away. I was just overwhelmed by the site. I was shocked,” said Ciejka, “Not knowing what would happen the next day, and to Roy’s, was the saddest part,”

“We weren’t sure right away after the fire whether we would stay open during the reconstruction process,” Flood said, “However we received so much support and knew that we should. It’s been the right decision.”

In addition to working as general manager of Roy’s, Flood is also the niece of current owner Roy Warner, Jr. Being a part of the family business; she is deeply invested in the company.

While Roy’s business has slowed at its Pilsen location, many loyal customers from the North Side are making the trip to support the local business during this rough time, Flood said.

According to Ciejka, customer flow is significantly less at the Pilsen location, but is still apparent, “People that know us, and are able to make the drive, have come out to do business here.”

“I moved to the suburbs, but I continue to drive back to shop at Roy’s,” said customer Debra Jenrick, who has furnished at least five homes with Roy’s.

That kind of loyalty helps Roy's persevere.

“We’re looking at this as a chance to start anew," Flood said. "We’re certain Roy’s will come out on the other side of the fire stronger, and even better than before. The day we re-open is going to be a celebration."

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