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Foothills Art Glass must vacate 300 Trade Street for a boutique bank

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Wednesday, June 28, 2017

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Eddie Donald has 18 days to leave Foothills Art Glass, a business he has owned for 22 years at 300 Trade Street.
 

Jim Fair

Eddie Donald has 18 days to leave Foothills Art Glass, a business he has owned for 22 years at 300 Trade Street.

 



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Eddie Donald in his workshop at the back of his building.
 

Jim Fair

Eddie Donald in his workshop at the back of his building.

 



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Foothills Arts Glass offered original wood and stained and art glass. Biltmore was among its clients.
 
 

Jim Fair

Foothills Arts Glass offered original wood and stained and art glass. Biltmore was among its clients.

 

 



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James and James Collection, owned by James Jenkins, will also be closed to make way or the boutique bank.
 

Jim Fair

James and James Collection, owned by James Jenkins, will also be closed to make way or the boutique bank.

 



Eddie Donald spent 22 years in downtown Greer building his Foothills Art Glass business.

Donald, who has an unwritten monthly lease for $1,000 at 300 Trade Street, learned he is to vacate the building by July 15.

Ronald Ripley and his wife, Susanne Abrams, are also the owners of the building and a proposed restaurant – Green Lettuce – at 109 Trade Street.

As cold as the facts appear and the sadness and fear downtown merchants have expressed over Donald’s departure, Ripley said Countybank officials offered to almost double the lease – $1,800 – and upgrade the lower level to create a boutique bank.

James and James Collection, a menswear business owned by James Jenkins, behind Foothills Art Glass, has also been given notice to move. Ripley said the bank will eventually occupy that property, too. Pour Sports, next door to Foothills Art Glass, will remain, Ripley said.

Ripley said the floor above Donald’s business has 10 offices for lease and will not be occupied by the bank.

“I got home from the hospital a couple of weeks ago and on the same day I was told my lease would expire in thirty days,” Donald said as his eyes welled in tears. “I just celebrated my twenty-second anniversary in May …” he said as his sentence trailed off.

Ripley agreed the timing was unfortunate but Countybank wanted to renovate and open for business by the fourth quarter.

Ken Harper, Executive Vice President/COO of Countybank, and former chairman of the Greater Greer Chamber of Commerce, has not returned repeated phone calls since last Tuesday for comment.

“I know Eddie had undergone some health issues and I told (Rick) Danner we had to help find a place for Eddie,” Ripley said. “It was a little later when I said, ‘come on Rick we have to help Eddie.’”

Danner did visit Donald at least a couple of times last week suggesting people who owned downtown buildings that were in a position to help. One owner Danner suggested walked Donald through a building that was already planned for a unique Trade Street business. The square footage was not practical for Donald’s inventory and workshop that expanded over the years.

Donald is in negotiations with a property at Wade Hampton Plaza and taking quotes from moving companies. Donald said he was too upset to talk about his upcoming move.

Ripley said he and Donald had worked together in the past on doors and windows. “Eddie is a terrific person and has done an excellent job with his business,” Ripley said.

Merchants along Trade Street were fearful that their landlords would raise rent on their leases and were talking among themselves how a bank, with Danner and Harper as members, would target Donald’s business. After all, on June 1, Mayor Danner stated at the CBL State Saving Bank rebranding, across the street from Foothills Art Glass, that Trade Street had a zero vacancy rate.

Business owners only agreed to speak anonymously and specifically asked to not name their business or location.

"Eddie will be horribly missed in downtown. He was one of the downtown anchors and he never lost faith in downtown," said a business owner.

“I wonder if our landlord would do to us what was done to Eddie,” said a long-time business owner, crossing their fingers.

“I feel so bad for Eddie. He has been one of downtown’s greatest owners and always attended all the Greer Station meetings and events. He was always there for us when we needed something,” said another business owner.

“Before our business opened, Eddie visited us to wish us luck. He was the one stable business owner that lasted through the recession and brought traffic to downtown. I don’t know why a bank would want to be on that corner and where would they park,” offered another owner.

“Susanne and I traveled all over – Fountain Inn, Saluda, Tryon – and she kept coming back saying ‘Greer is it,’” Ripley said.

Ripley and Abrams invested in downtown Greer when they sold their downtown West End Greenville property for more than $500,000, according to Greenville County records.

The Green Lettuce is scheduled to open later this year. Amenities for the upstairs apartment will feature a second exit and its own courtyard while the restaurant will also have its outdoor space. Wild Ace Pizza and Pub formerly was located in the building.

 

 

 

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