Archive for Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Town Talk: Kwik Shop plans to rebuild store at 19th and Mass.; hobby shop on 23rd closes amid tax problems; loan program for Douglas County businesses raises $63k

January 31, 2012


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News and notes from around town:

• I haven’t seen a proposal to rename the stretch of Massachusetts Street between 17th and 19th streets after the Kroger company, but you could make a case for it these days. In addition to the new Dillons store under construction on south Mass., Kroger — the parent company of Dillons — has filed plans to rebuild its Kwik Shop convenience store at 19th and Mass.

The plans filed at City Hall call for Kwik Shop to expand into the vacant lot that is immediately behind its current store on the northeast corner of 19th and Mass. That plan means the Kwik Shop store will be significantly closer to New Hampshire Street than it is today.

The company is proposing to raze its existing 2,700-square-foot store and replace it with a $1.9 million, 3,900-square-foot store. New fuel pumps also will be part of the equation, although I couldn’t tell from the plans whether the number of pumps will increase significantly.

Thus far the project has filed plans for the city’s Historic Resources Commission to review the design of the building. Look for the HRC to review the project either at its February or March meeting. The project also will need to receive site plan approval from the city’s planning department. No timeline yet on when construction could begin.

• Well it hasn’t been all fun and games for Lawrence hobby enthusiasts lately. Folks who do everything from model building to remote control racing have lost one of their longtime Lawrence suppliers. The business formerly known as George’s Hobby House, 1411 W. 23rd St., has closed and it doesn’t look like it is going to reopen anytime soon. The business recently changed its name to Roger’s Hobby House, but it operated under the George’s Hobby House name since its founding in the 1960s.

Roger Miller, a longtime employee of George’s Hobby House, bought the store from the Leinmiller family about two years ago, said Bruce Leinmiller, son of founder George Leinmiller. According to Douglas County District Court documents, it appears Miller has had financial troubles at the store. The Kansas Department of Revenue in late December filed two tax warrants against Miller and the business to collect about $24,000 in unpaid sales taxes. The state, however, did not seize the store. Instead it started the legal process to force the business to pay the back taxes.

Attempts to reach Miller were not successful. But longtime customers of the store said Miller recently sent them an email confirming the “permanent closure” of the store.

The Leinmiller family still owns the real estate where the store was located. Bruce Leinmiller said his family did not have any immediate plans to reopen a hobby store at the location. He said he has been in discussion with other businesses about locating in the fairly visible space along 23rd Street. He did not elaborate on what type of businesses were interested in the location.

But Leinmiller said even with the recession and in this day of computerized entertainment, the hobby industry remains a viable one.

“Some parts of the industry have grown like never before,” Leinmiller said. “The RC (remote control) industry has grown really well. It is always a moving target of what’s popular, but that’s the way it is in any industry.”

UPDATE: Roger Miller called me back this morning after seeing the above report. He said his plans were not to suddenly close the store, but he was forced to do so after he was unable to resolve a lease issue with the Leinmillers. He said he had worked out a process with the state to pay the back taxes.

"The store had had a couple of bad months, but we were on our way of getting out of financial trouble, not into it," Miller said.

Miller also said he's optimistic that Lawrence will have a new hobby store in the near future. Miller said he has been approached by several folks who are interested in starting a new hobby store in Lawrence and having Miller serve as the manager of the business.

"I've had people call me with offers," Miller said.

• If your hobby is trying to grow a business in Eudora, Baldwin City or Lecompton, there is a new resource for you. As we have previously reported, Douglas County’s three smaller communities successfully banded together to be included in NetWork Kansas’ Entrepreneurship Communities Program. The program awards state tax credits to rural communities who can then sell the credits to investors. The proceeds from the sale are then used to make low-interest loans to either existing businesses looking to expand or new business looking to locate in one of the communities.

Well, the program recently announced that the Douglas County communities successfully have sold $63,701 worth of the tax credits, meaning the Douglas County program is ready to start moving into the loan-making stage of the program. Businesses that are interested in the program should contact Collin Bielser, the economic development coordinator for the city of Eudora, at 542-4111. Bielser is serving as the point of contact for all three Douglas County communities that are participating in the loan program.

Statewide, the 5-year-old E-Community program has made $1.6 million in loans to businesses, which has helped those companies leverage another $9.3 million in funding. In total, the state estimates the program has helped create or retain about 400 jobs in rural communities over the last five years.


Hooligan_016 6 years, 4 months ago

With those Kwik shop drives so close to the intersection at 19th/Mass. makes it very dangerous. I've almost been t-boned twice by people turning left on to 19th.

I hope the new proposal gets rid of that drive and routes traffic around instead.

pagan_idolator 6 years, 4 months ago

Ugh - I have had my issues with being behind on sales tax as well. Due largely to my own inability to get my crap together. I can't understand a store that closes due to back sales tax since the state is pretty good about working with you and setting up a payment plan to get you back on track. Sorry to see George's Hobby House go.

avoice 6 years, 4 months ago

Not in our experience. Have a business, pay all the taxes you owe (that you know of), get audited and have the State inform you that one certain type of business you do, out of all the many types, is subject to "taxable labor." They pick out those jobs from among everything you've done, arbitrarily decide how much of the job involved "taxable labor" (which turns out to be a lot more complicated than just the billed labor hours), assign an amount of sales tax owed, along with interest accrued from the date of the end of the job. Now you owe thousands of dollars that you did not collect from the customers, it's a couple of years down the road so you can't go back on the customers, the economy and, therefore, your business is in the toilet. You can't pay and the penalties and interest increase. The State refuses to negotiate in any way, shape, or form. Probably the best case scenario for everyone involved (including taxpayers) would be for the State to collect the original amount of tax owed without any penalties or interest. Then a company would have been spared and jobs would have been saved. But no, the State of Kansas prefers to cloak their tax code in layers of complication, wring every last dollar out of you in interest and penalties that accrue even as you make those payments on that plan and, if you can't make a payment, start seizing your assets so you can't even go out and try to achieve any income. It's lose-lose-lose for the company, it's employees, and the taxpayers who then have to deal with all the ramifications of the loss of that small business (i.e. - suppliers lost a customer, people went on assistance, a city and the State lost all future income from property, sales and income taxes, etc.) You're doing great work, State of Kansas. Keep it up!

Clickker 6 years, 4 months ago

Great. Another example of 'The Man' stomping on the little guy.

Why dont we just give the state everything we make. THAT should satisfy them.

Beth Bird 6 years, 4 months ago

I wondered what had happened to George's Hobby House. I went by Saturday to pick up some cake supplies....That is just a shame! I guess I will have to go to Kansas City to get what I need....I had been using George's for years....

kls1973 6 years, 4 months ago

Try Sweet! on Mass.(717 Mass) They have a location in Topeka and just opened this one a few months ago. Pretty good selection of supplies and an awesome classroom area!

pagan_idolator 6 years, 4 months ago

Thanks for that info! Didn't know they were there. I am going to have to check them out.

hipper_than_hip 6 years, 4 months ago

Does anyone remember the giant racetrack at George's when it was located in The Malls? Old Leinmiller was kind of crabby but it was super cool of him to offer up a racetrack for his customers.

Frank A Janzen 6 years, 4 months ago

I was a Manpower temp many years ago, pouring cement in the 19th and Mass. Kwik Shop pit where they later put the large underground gas tanks. That's where I really learned about the caustic qualities of wet cement. Some of it fell into my boots and burned the skin on my ankles in a few places. It was really painful.

Elvis 6 years, 4 months ago

it is very sad that roger's hobby was forced to close. was not the state that closed the shop it was the aboved named interview'd person. i was there when the shop was closed and was giving 60 seconds to" get out" i and many others still have personal items in the store and have not been allowed to get them. miss the store and roger very much

lord22 6 years, 4 months ago

I also have pesonal items on display at Georges. Doe's anyone know how or if I can retrieve my stuff ?

Jeanne Cunningham 6 years, 4 months ago

For cake supplies, try Michaels (GREAT selection) and/or WalMart. Not to mention, many grocery stores have small selections. Also,!!

RandyRhodes 6 years, 4 months ago

Its sad to see that George's/Roger's Hobby House has closed but honestly I'm not surprised. On the few occasions I made it into Lawrence to stop by George's. My items were NEVER on time or I was told ''sorry we're sold out of those a couple days ago.'' This always seemed to be my luck at the store. There was never anything in stock and the place always looked in disarray.

Maybe Lawrence can look foward to a new Hobby store in the future. One that's organized and gets items in on time. Maybe a Hobby Town USA!! There used to be one.

kls1973 6 years, 4 months ago

Randy- I often had the same experience. I figured it was just a lack of funds to be able to restock, not that I would expect Roger to admit that to the public. But yes the response was always the same..."we had a big rush, just sold out"...yada yada.

With that said though, I would much prefer to frequent a small business (non-chain) owner than a "box store". Don't get me wrong- I'm not anti-WalMart or anything of that nature, but if I can help out the little guy, I will certainly try to do so.

Bob_Loblaw 6 years, 4 months ago

“Some parts of the industry have grown like never before,” Leinmiller said. “The RC (remote control) industry has grown really well. It is always a moving target of what’s popular, but that’s the way it is in any industry.”

The DIY aka Maker Faire is where it is happening actually....see Arduino..Zigbee...Xbee etc. etc. Electronics and automation related projects (throw in the RC stuff mentioned as well). An electronics hobby place (besides RadioShack...sort of...not really) that could fill this niche that was not on either coast of the US.....

Lawrence Morgan 6 years, 4 months ago

It is great that Roger Miller called back - that is unusual for businesses. Thank you, and good luck in becoming manager of another store.

I hope that your next store carries board games. I'm not speaking of the American kind (Monopoly) but rather the European kind. There are a number of web sites that carry board games from throughout the world as well as the United States. Take a look at these websites. Lawrence, with all the college students as well as families, would be a natural for these kinds of games. And they can be played over and over again.

suzydemand 6 years, 4 months ago

I hope Roger's Hobby is only temporarily closed. There is no other local hobby shop who has Roger's expertise and willingness to assist school aged children with their many projects. I stopped by the store last week to pick up a few supplies and was very dismayed to find the store closed. I then went to Hobby Lobby to get the supplies and they did not have any of the items needed according to the store clerk. I wish Roger the best and am optimistic that the conflict will be quickly resolved.

pinenewa 6 years, 4 months ago

I got my daughter in law a gift certificate there for Christmas. Will he make good on those?

RandyRhodes 6 years, 4 months ago

IMO, Customer debts to the Hobby Shop/owner should be considered null and void. The business has closed its doors, right? Who knows about gift certificates purchased from the store?? I really hope everything works out for everyone.

lunacydetector 6 years, 4 months ago

let's see if it takes a whole year for kwik shop to get approval like it did for dillon's.

RCTQ 6 years, 4 months ago

If George or Bruce Leinmiller re-opens Georges Hobby House, I WILL NEVER spend another dime in that store. George is NOT the person many people paint this glorious picture of. He has personally treated me and my friends (other customers) VERY disrespectfully many times. I have never done anything to IGeorge to warrant his attitude or behavior. I only continued to shop there because I gave Roger Miller the benefit of the doubt and he has always treated me with respect and was always very friendly and curtious. I am sorry to hear about the store closing. But I mean what I say.. NEVER again with George or Bruce. If they re-open the store under their name again, it's an all out R/C Boycott of Georges Hobby House. Good Luck! There's not enough Boy Scouts or Cake Makers to support you. Goodbye George and Bruce!

lord22 6 years, 4 months ago

I also have pesonal items on display at Georges. Doe's anyone know how or if I can retrieve my stuff ?

Elvis 6 years, 4 months ago

you will have to conyact bruce at the pizza shop in the same little mall

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