Fred Aram knows the value of a name, which is why the entrepreneur jumped at the chance to buy the Capital Iron moniker and is making plans to open a new store under that banner.
The owner of West Coast Appliance Gallery said he saw a void in the marketplace and the loss of a retail legacy when Capital Iron announced it was closing and later that it had filed for bankruptcy.
“I thought what a waste, because the name is so strong and so well known and carries such a long heritage of local business that it’s really a shame for it to disappear,” Aram said.
And now it won’t.
Aram, who purchased the name and intellectual property, including the Capital Iron website and social media presence, in a deal worked out with the trustee overseeing the bankruptcy, intends to open a new Capital Iron store this year.
No details of the sale price for the name were disclosed, though Aram said it was not a significant amount.
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 said he is in the midst of negotiating a deal for space for the store, and at this point will only say it will be in Victoria.
One thing that’s clear about the venture is that it will focus on Capital Iron’s strength — outdoor living.
The new version of Capital Iron will not be the general store most will recall, but will be focused on selling and servicing barbecues, hot tubs, outdoor kitchens and outdoor furniture.
Aram said he had been considering expanding his appliance business to include outdoor kitchens and barbecues, but didn’t have the space to do it properly at West Coast’s Victoria location on Nanaimo Street.
He said the new store could be up and running before the outdoor season starts in March, but it will depend on when the real estate transaction is completed.
Aram is optimistic the venture will be successful because of its tighter focus, and a plan to service what they sell.
“I have experience in taking businesses that were not doing well financially,” he said, noting that was the case when he joined West Coast Appliance Gallery in 2016. “It was in very bad financial shape.”
Aram was initially a partner at West Coast but as of 2021 is the sole owner. He said they changed the business model, focused more on customer service and changed the image to the point it is now a destination appliance store.
“I’m hoping that we will do the same thing with Capital Iron, and the new Capital Iron is going to be a very reliable destination,” he said.
Aram said the Capital Iron store will be a great complement to his indoor appliance showroom, but he is adamant they will be separate entities with no product crossover.
While he’s waiting to see if his first-choice location will be a reality, Aram is dealing with the back-end work of lining up suppliers and having technicians trained to handle a new line of products.
“There are not many retailers out there in any category that they can technically service what they sell, but because we have a very strong service team already in place … we will continue doing that,” he said.