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Bigger building, short move.

Byline: Retail notebook by ED RUSSO The Register-Guard

WHEN OWNER STACY BIERMA looks out the window of Harlequin Beads & Jewelry in downtown Eugene, she sees something she's never had before: Her own retail building.

On Monday, Bierma bought the Skeie's Jewelers building from owners Richard Skeie and Steve Hamaker for $342,000. The brick building is across Willamette Street from Harlequin Beads & Jewelry, in the McDonald Theatre building.

Bierma will move her store to the 4,700-square-foot building early next year, after Skeie's consolidates its downtown and Valley River Center outlets at Oakway Center. Until then, Skeie's will rent from Bierma.

Bierma said purchase makes sense for her because Harlequin will get a larger, more efficient store without leaving downtown.

"It's so nice to be able to move and expand, and not lose our clientele," Bierma said. "I love downtown. And I love being able to make a long-term commitment to downtown."

Bierma was able to put the deal together with a $36,000 down payment, a $178,000 loan from Pacific Continental Bank, and a $148,000 loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The total is $20,000 more than the building's purchase price because of appraisals, title insurance, loan fees and other expenses.

The SBA loan, with a fixed interest rate of 6.75 percent for 20 years, made Bierma more comfortable with the commitment of buying commercial real estate.

The SBA's role was key to the financing, said Steve Dignam, a manager at the Lane Council of Governments, which runs the SBA loan program in Lane County.

By assuming 40 percent of the total loan, the SBA makes banks more willing to lend because their risk is smaller, Dignam said. Also, under the SBA program, the loans from private banks have priority over the loans from the SBA, so in the event of a default and foreclosure, the banks stand to recoup their money first.

Bierma got the SBA loan mainly because her purchase will help her save existing jobs and create three additional ones.

Harlequin sells decorative beads and jewelry. A growing share of its business comes from Internet sales and from classes where people learn to string beads, twist wire and do other jewelry making tasks.

Bierma, 37, started the business in 1984 near the University of Oregon. She moved to a downtown spot in 1988, before leasing in the McDonald building seven years ago. She enjoys her store, especially the natural light from eight-foot-tall windows. But Bierma's excited about what the move will do for her business.

The Skeie's building is 1,800-square feet larger than her existing store, and all the space is on one floor. Harlequin currently is spread over two floors and a basement.

The extra space will let Bierma double her retail display area, build a bigger classroom and have handicapped-accessible restrooms. The new building also will be more efficient, with storage, offices, Internet and mail order on the same level.

Bierma says it will cost her at least $25,000 to remodel the jewelry store. The work will include opening small store-front windows to let in natural light and the gazes of passers-by. "We're going to ligthen it up a bit," she said.

Downtown boosters are glad Bierma has chosen to expand in the city center.

Bierma said downtown Eugene is a good place to do business. With the pending opening of Broadway to car traffic and the new library, she said, things should get even better.

The lack of free on-street parking is often mentioned as a hurdle for shoppers. But Bierma says she reminds customers that they can park free for two hours in city garages. The city doesn't charge for the first hour and Bierma pays for the second hour as a validating merchant.

Being a retailer downtown "is all about having a positive attitude," Bierma says.

Retail Notebook runs Thursdays. To include items, call 338-2359, or e-mail erusso@guardnet.com.

CAPTION(S):

After seven years in the McDonald Theater building, Stacy Bierma, owner of Harlequin Beads & Jewelry, will move her downtown Eugene store across Willamette Street to the larger Skeie's Jewelers building next spring. The Skeie's Jewelers building offers greater space. "It's so nice to be able to move and expand, and not lose our clientele." STACY BIERMA Harlequin Beads & Jewelry
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Title Annotation:Change: Harlequin Beads & Jewelry will jump across the street to larger digs.; Business
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Aug 22, 2002
Words:718
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