KUHL Interiors Lighting & Decor with Windy Shores Cafe Open New
by Scott A. Sumner
Thunder Bay’s Prince Arthur’s Landing at the Waterfront has undergone a major transformation in recent years. The City of Thunder Bay invested millions to create a beautiful space for everyone to enjoy. Two new 50 unit condominium building went up and most recently the new 4 star Delta Hotel has opened. The historic CN building had remained vacant for the last few years but now has a new occupant with the 5000 square foot KUHL Interiors Lighting & Decor with Windy Shores Cafe!
“We started in business almost 10 years ago as a lighting store on Memorial Ave. Over time we have grown and expanded to include more home >goods, furnishings and artwork.We had to close temporarily due to the pandemic and it also delayed our construction here. Our temporary building location also had new ownership so we were closed for 4 months before reopening. The new store at the waterfront opened August1st.”said Cory Allan, owner of Kuhl Interiors.
“ The location is great, a heritage building, which had been under utilized for a long time. It needed extensive renovations.The views are incredible and pedestrian traffic is huge. Our store is a good use of the space year round. In the past the businesses in this building were seasonal. We will be open year round to draw people and hopefully we will have more neighbours soon. We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars renovating the building to completely customize the space to fit our needs.”said Cory.The space really showcases all of the Kuhl products. In the few months that they have been opened they have shipped their products across Canada, more so than ever done before in their entire history.
“We are doing E commerce now as well as seeing people that are just passing through Thunder Bay staying at the Delta Hotel.They come in to >the store to browse and take items with them or they custom order and we ship to them across Canada,” notes Cory. “E commerce has done well but in our industry it is mostly a touch feel type of business. This
new store increases our showroom square footage to be able to show more
products. This store is over 5000 square feet in size and more than double the old store.We also have the addition of Windy Shores Cafe, which my brother Kyle owns.”KUHL Interiors offers lighting, furniture, home goods, artwork and soon bedding and dishware. They can order the exact product the customer wants and get in in quickly.
Cory Allan, age 34 started in business at age 24.“ I just had a liking for interior design. It started with lighting and then we added other products. I also renovate homes and all that stuff as well. We buy a home, totally renovate it putting my own stamp on it, and then re sell it.”
“The new location has been fantastic. It is just letting people know we are still in business because of the 4 month closure. When people have >discovered us again and then there was parking again out front, our traffic has increased. Also the people staying at the hotel has meant new customers from Vancouver to Halifax.”
KUHL Interiors have a good base of customers, a huge clientele from their 10 year history in Thunder Bay.This more prominent location has broadened their base. Once the US border opens again it will help as well said Cory. Their product offering now includes furniture, original artwork, a huge selection of area rugs and dishware collections as well as bedding are coming.
“ Our products are good quality from mid to high end range but we also have affordable product and everything in between.This is already a lot of moderate to low end shopping in Thunder Bay so I wanted to bring a more premium product that will last longer especially when it comes to bedding with higher thread counts. Our furniture is solid wood.”said Cory.
The Covid 19 pandemic caused KUHL to shut down and delayed their construction of the new space. It also meant the products were delayed by the manufacturer and there were shipping delays. Some companies have less staff to do shipping, say 3 to5 people versus 15 to 20. Many of the suppliers staff are working remotely so it takes more time to get an answer on things according to Cory.
“We moved out of our previous location because our lease was up and then to a temporary space on 110th Ave and then Covid shut us down. We are doing well now and have increased staff from before with 3 to now 10 in the store itself. The cafe store has 7 staff people.”notes Cory.
“I definitely thoroughly enjoy being my own boss and couldn’t go back >to working for someone else. It's nice to put in your own decisions and put your own influence on things. Having worked corporately before in retail you are basically modeling a brand whether you agree with everything or not you have go with what’s being presented. In your own business you can customize it to what you see fit and to what the
community wants because not every community works the same.”said Cory.
“ I was born and raised in Thunder Bay and think a store like ours is
needed in Thunder Bay.
“A lot of the things that come to Thunder Bay have been lower end. I like premium products myself and there are not many options here so I want people to realize that they don’t have to go Toronto all the time and can support their local economy to accent their homes.”
“The cafe here creates a drawing card for both of our businesses and creates a sense of activity. A cafe in this location was needed here for a long time. Both businesses have each other to help draw clientele. We hope for others to come here to the building and open their business. I would like to see a local clothing store here.” said Cory Allan.
Kyle Allan is the owner manager of Windy Shores Cafe.“ My wife and I had a conversation with my brother about how people in Thunder Bay love to go out, grab a coffee and then go shopping. Cory said wouldn’t it be neat if we had a cafe inside the store and why don’t you and your wife start the cafe. We then found out this building was available for rent. The waterfront location is beautiful, spectacular. We needed to have the KUHL store here as well to make it a year round business,”said Kyle Allan.
“It has been fairly steady since we opened.Thunder Bay has been receptive of it so far and are happy to see something in the building after so many years. Surprisingly many people don’t realize we are open which has been shocking. Even after 3 months people may not realize we are here.”said Kyle. “ We hope for the events to come back outside to the waterfront with social distancing. That would help with our awareness. We have seen a lot of out of town people staying at the Delta or driving through which has been good.”
“Previously I was a tradesperson, born and raised in Thunder Bay.This is a change of pace. It is a big investment as we went top of the line for everything from the marble counter tops to leading edge espresso >machine.”
Windy Shores Cafe have local bakers providing their products. They offer coffee, tea, late, espressos with special seasonal drinks.They do decaf as espresso.
Windy Shores Cafe on facebook