Downtown building condemned; businesses relocate
Sandy Gipple, owner of Images Hair and Tanning, found out last Friday that the building she’s rented at 911 E. Main St. for the past 18 years had been condemned and she needed to move out by the end of the month. Gipple didn’t let panic set it, though. Within a few hours, she had made a deal to purchase another salon down the street and was making plans to move.
“I knew I had to stay positive,” Gipple said. “It’s a challenge, but I’m going to conquer it.”
The building, owned by Merrill Federal Savings & Loan, is adjacent to the former Merrill Karate Club building, which suffered a roof collapse in early February. That building, owned by Lincoln Community Bank, will be torn down.
Merrill Building Inspector Darin Pagel said concerns were raised by an engineering firm that looked at the buildings and a determination was made that the buildings most likely share a common wall. How exactly the demolition of the Karate Club building will impact the building that housed Images won’t be known until demolition is underway, Pagel said.
The condemnation order on 911 E. Main was issued “out of concern for the safety of the occupants of that building,” Pagel said. “There may not be any problems with that building, but we wanted to err on the side of safety. We said both buildings can’t be occupied.”
Within 30 minutes of finding out, Gipple contacted Florence Koch at Hair For All. She knew Florence was contemplating retirement.
“We met at 5 o’clock, and by 5:30 I told her I’d buy it,” Gipple said
As soon as word got out that Images was losing its building, other salon owners were calling Gipple to offer space for her and her customers in their salons. While she was grateful for the offers, Gipple preferred to find a permanent solution immediately.
Gipple said it was important to her to stay downtown. She also has three stylists who rent chairs from her at Images, and she wanted to keep them with her as well. Purchasing Hair For All met all of her objectives, Gipple said.
“I texted all three girls right away to let them know that I was in the process of purchasing a place,” she said.
Images closed at its former location Friday as Gipple packed up her business and moved it down the street. She was back in business on Tuesday, April 1 at the Hair For All location, 1005 E. Main St.
Gipple said she’s received a lot of support from her customers, fellow business owners and the community.
“It’s just a little overwhelming how many people are trying to do anything they can to help out,” she said.
The other business tenant in the building, Horizon Realty, has moved to the Soweija Dental building on North Center Ave.
The timeline for when demolition of the Karate Club building – and possibly the adjacent building – will get underway is up to the building owners and their insurance companies, Pagel said.