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Capital Iron to reopen at Store Street location in Victoria

The 88-year-old Capital Iron filed for bankruptcy in mid-December, citing debts of more than $4.29 million and assets of $548,001.
Owner Fred Aram outside of Capital Iron on Store Street in Victoria on Tuesday. Aram plans to reopen the store this fall. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Capital Iron will reopen its Store Street doors this fall after the new owner struck a deal with Reliance Properties for the landmark waterfront store to return to its old digs.

Fred Aram, owner of West Coast Appliance Gallery and the new owner of Capital Iron’s name and intellectual property, plans to reopen the store this fall after a full renovation of the space in downtown Victoria.

“It is exciting, but it’s a big project — lots of responsibility and lots of anxiety and lots of challenges as well,” he said Tuesday.

Aram, who bought the name in January in a deal worked out with the trustee overseeing Capital Iron’s bankruptcy, intends to open a new Capital Iron store this year.

The 88-year-old Capital Iron filed for bankruptcy in mid-December, citing debts of more than $4.29 million and assets of $548,001.

Under the direction of bankruptcy and insolvency trustees Derek Chase and Associates, based in Campbell River, the company listed 187 unsecured creditors owed a total of more than $2.87 million.

Aram, the sole owner, has incorporated under the name Capital Iron 2022.

Aram said being able to reopen in the old building is a huge boost for the company’s re-boot.

“The whole identity of Capital Iron is so linked to this building, there could have not been any better option,” he said.

Aram had initially tried to secure a high-profile site that had been home to a car dealership, but a deal could not be reached.

He said it was a call from the City of Victoria that alerted him to the fact the Store Street site might be available.

“I was under impression that building — not the heritage part of it — was supposed to be fully redeveloped,” he said. “So I talked to Reliance and we managed to strike a deal because they don’t have any plan for development of the 1900-1908 Store St. address.”

Aram said he has signed a 10-year deal with Reliance with an extension option.

Reliance Properties bought the waterfront property and parking lot from owner Ron Greene in 2020. Reliance intends a massive redevelopment in the area that will include a new home for the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

The redevelopment seeks to tear down existing buildings, except for three heritage sites, including Capital Iron, to make way for industrial and commercial space, offices, residential units, live and work units for artists, and public open space.

Aram said that when the store reopens, it will not carry the entire broad line of goods that the previous version of Capital Iron did.

“It’ll be Capital Iron home store and it’ll be a combination of in indoor and outdoor home goods,” he said.

That means there will very little outdoor and camping gear or hardware.

Aram said it will retain quite a few elements of the original, but the store itself will be modernized and established as a destination for home goods.

“The strength of Capital Iron, which was outdoor products, will be the critical and integral part of the new business,” he said.

Renovations started this week and Aram is hoping that by September they will open.

In order that he doesn’t miss the entire summer season, Aram said they will carry outdoor appliances, barbeques and some outdoor furniture at his other businesses — West Coast Appliance and Appliance Depot.

“I’m looking at this as a very, very long-term venture. That building and business has got so much historical value and it’s critical for the city,” he said. “I would love to just maintain that and be part of the community.”

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