Central Florida Office Plus Closing after 56 Years
Gainesville, FL -- It's been a great 56 years for Central Florida Office Plus and current owner W.T. Chestnut.
"56 years ago we got started on Hawthorne Road, moved into Downtown Gainesville in the early 60's then moved into here in 1981," according to Chestnut.
Chestnut's father, Bill Chestnut, opened the store in 1958 to sell office supplies. he later expanded it to offer furniture and art supplies. But things took a turn when the market changed.
"Along came both big box competitors and then a little bit later this thing called the Internet got started," Chestnut said.
So he made the decision to close the doors to his local business.
Chestnut said, "we do feel bad that we're going to chase people out to a big box because they can't come here."
Those same big box competitors are what Steve Cannon with the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce said is becoming the norm.
"If a local business closes down, it's typically replaced by a big box store, they do have a purpose here in the community, they do pay tax dollars, but again, two-thirds of the money they're making is leaving our community, the profits are not staying here locally," according to Cannon.
Cannon said two-thirds of the money from local businesses like Office Plus go back into the community to fund parks, police departments, libraries and more. He said local businesses have been an integral part of the Gainesville community since the start.
"I think this town is how it is, the makeup of this town and the feel of Gainesville, is the way it is because of the local businesses," said Cannon.
As for Chestnut, he just hopes a big box business doesn't replace his.
"We've talked to a couple of people who are interested in getting both into the art business and somewhat into the framing, but we hope that that niche will be filled by a local vendor," said Chestnut.
There's no word yet on what will take Office Plus' place in the shopping complex, but the business will close on June 28th and they're currently offering 10% off all their merchandise, with 25% off their frames.
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