CodeBlue, a major Springfield employer, has moved its retail arm from the Jeffersonville outlets to a vacant, historic building downtown.
The company’s Firesale Warehouse, which sells discounted goods recovered from damaged businesses and homes, is open in a former appliance store at 122 E. Main St. A grand opening will be held the weekend of May 18.
“We believe there’s a better market here and we want to continue to be a strong advocate for the revitalization of the downtown project,” said Mike Anderson, CodeBlue senior vice president of operations. “We feel like by bringing (the store) closer, we have a little better oversight of the things that are happening.”
CodeBlue is a claims management and water mitigation company based out of Wisconsin. The company opened a call center in downtown Springfield in the Bushnell Building about three years ago that now employs about 175 people. The new store has an additional six to eight employees, Anderson said.
The store is regularly stocked with goods from insurance companies. After a fire or flood damages a residence or business, the insurance company pays to replace the items, even if they have little or no damage.
So CodeBlue ships those items to the Firesale Warehouse and sells them at a marked down price as a way to recoup costs for insurers. CodeBlue is able to recover 30 to 50 percent of insurance claim costs, and splits the proceeds with insurers.
“We may get dozens of claims a week so we constantly have department (logistics) going out and picking up these products, so they’re bringing in new product almost daily,” Anderson said.
Currently the store has furniture, hair products from a salon that burned down, backyard fire pits, tools and more, all at 30 to 60 percent off.
It sells the items online at www.firesale4u.com, as well as on ebay and Amazon. The store serves as a warehouse, but Anderson said he expects more walk-in traffic at the new location.
Springfield has slowly attracted more retail businesses in the past year, including Running with Scissors, Fair Trade Winds and the Champion City Guide and Supply. The Firesale Warehouse is across the street from Guide and Supply in a historic building owned by the Turner Foundation.
“It’s important to fill storefront space with retail – historic or otherwise,” said John Landess, executive director of the Turner Foundation in an e-mail. “It gives people another reason to stop in downtown. It’s part of having a well-rounded urban core. You need business, retail, restaurant and downtown living.”
Landess didn’t disclose the cost of renovating the building, but said the foundation took ownership of it in July 2010.
The warehouse takes up two connected buildings, one of which was built near 1854 and the other in 1896, according to the Turner Foundation. The east building was once home of the Springfield Paper Co., while the west building had a copper smith and tin shop. Both buildings were occupied by Bert Sayre and his appliance store after World War II.
Springfield’s downtown is home to many older buildings, which can be a challenge when attracting new businesses.
“The challenge is simply finding restored storefront space. People don’t want you to show them space that hasn’t been renovated in 40 years,” Landess said. “It’s hard for them to see past the renovations done in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. We need more people with ideas, capital and vision moving down here.”