News and notes including plans for vacant I-70 industrial lot, closing of city’s lone gun range, and bankruptcy for Mac shop

photo by: Courtesy: City of Lawrence/Grob Engineering Services

Renderings show the proposed design for a new office and warehouse building planned for 1220 North Third Street in North Lawrence.

Today, I have a tale of a hole in a roof, a gun and a MacBook computer. It sure sounds like a bad IT day, but don’t let your imaginations run wild. Rather, it is news and notes from around town, featuring one business that is expanding and two that have closed.

• Let’s start with the business that fixes holes in roofs and does all other types of roofing work in the Lawrence area. Lawrence-based Alpha Roofing has filed plans to build a new headquarters and shop complex on a vacant piece of industrial ground along Interstate 70.

Plans filed at City Hall call for an approximately 10,000-square-foot building that will house both office and warehouse space for Alpha. The site for the new development is an approximately 2-acre industrial lot at the northeast corner of North Third Street and the I-70/Kansas Turnpike interchange in North Lawrence. If you are having a hard time picturing the location, the property has been a sales lot for garden sheds and other such structures not too long ago. The property is just south of the longtime Howard Pine’s Garden Center, for further reference.

I’ve got a call into Alpha Roofing for more details on a timeline and other plans the company may have for the location. It looks like the proposed 10,000-square-foot building would house just Alpha Roofing. However, the plans also show a couple of other buildings that could be built in the future on the property. Those include a 4,800-square-foot building and a 6,000-square-foot building. Whether those also would be for Alpha or rented out to other businesses, I don’t know. I could see the location becoming a landing spot for service-oriented businesses that regularly dispatch crews to Lawrence, Topeka and Kansas City. Trucks can be on the turnpike within seconds from the location, and the businesses would have good visibility to boot.

Either way, on your turnpike trips, you’ll likely be seeing signs of construction at the property.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

The building that formerly housed Shooters Gun Club at 2429 Iowa Street is pictured on July 29, 2022.

• Now, to the guns. Shooters Gun Club has closed its large location at 2429 Iowa St., which included gun sales and Lawrence’s only firing range open to the public.

Owner Rick Sells told me COVID had a big impact on the business in multiple ways. The first was that Sells contracted COVID and was in the hospital from October to April, and the illness took away his ability to walk.

But the other COVID impact came in the form of higher ammunition prices. The pandemic created a couple of things: angst and supply chain problems. Both of those developments led to a large spike in ammunition prices, as angst created more demand for ammo among some gun owners and the supply chain issues created less supply.

Sells said he saw prices for popular varieties of ammunition increase from about $12 for a box of 50 shells to about $50 for the same number of shells. Those price increases led to far fewer people coming to a gun range to shoot off that expensive ammunition.

“We went from about 400 members to 50 members,” Sells said.

Ammunition prices have dropped from their highs, but Sells said that everything else has since increased in price due to inflation. As a result, there wasn’t much of a rebound in membership as gas and food prices cut into people’s discretionary spending.

So, earlier this month, Shooters closed its location on Iowa Street. Technically, the business remains open because Sells is keeping his firearms license and is going through the process of being able to process gun and ammunition orders from his Lawrence home.

The shooting range portion of the business, of course, won’t continue. Sells said the nearest shooting range open to the public now is in Ottawa, while there also are such businesses in Topeka and Kansas City.

Sells, a longtime Lawrence businessman, opened Shooters a little more than two years ago. At the time, some people questioned whether Lawrence — one of the few Democratic strongholds in Kansas — was the type of market that would support a large, gun-oriented business. Sells thinks that it does, but that his timing ended up being off. He points to one number as a sign that his instincts about the number of gun owners in Lawrence were correct.

“This is hard for a lot of people to believe, but right here in Lawrence, Kansas, in the 29 months we were open, we sold or transferred over 2,000 guns here,” Sells said.

No word yet on what may go into the space, which years ago was the home to Kief’s Audio and Video. But Sells, who leased the property, seemed to think a tenant was in the works. I’ll let you know if I hear more.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

The building that formerly housed Simply Mac at 3221 Iowa Street is pictured on July 29, 2022.

• Finally, about that MacBook. This one sounds simple, but perhaps isn’t. Simply Mac has closed its location on south Iowa Street, which was the chain’s lone location in Lawrence. In case you have forgotten, Simply Mac was an authorized repair shop for Apple and Macintosh products. It opened late last summer at 3221 Iowa St., in one of the retail buildings in front of Target.

But last month, the store suddenly closed. Multiple outlets in other parts of the country have reported the entire Simply Mac chained filed for bankruptcy. One problem is that the stores closed while being in possession of the computers of many people who had brought them in for repair. Based on social media posts, that certainly appears to have been the case in Lawrence.

It now appears that Apple itself is getting involved in the issue to try to get devices back to their owners. The website AppleInsider.com is reporting that Apple provided it a statement asking any SimplyMac customer to call 1-800-MY-APPLE (1-800-692-7753) and identify themselves as a Simply Mac customer to receive assistance.

No word yet on what may go into that south Iowa Street space, or how the bankruptcy proceedings may impact that situation. AppleInsider.com also is reporting that a trustee has been appointed in the case — George B. Hoffman of Salt Lake City, where Simply Mac is based. That information also may be helpful to people who have uncompleted dealings with the chain.

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