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B&L Office Furniture makes a new home after destruction of August riots
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Starting Over

B&L Office Furniture makes a new home after destruction of August riots

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It is not all that unusual when a local business moves from one part of the city to another.

It’s a bit different when that move was made necessary by the total destruction of the business due to the riots and mayhem of August. Then it becomes more than a matter of finding a new space and hanging a new sign.

The move becomes part of the healing process.

B&L Office Furniture, which had been at 1101 60th St. the past 42 years, sustained between $1.5 million and $2 million in damage in the aftermath of the police-involved shooting of Jacob Blake on Aug. 23. In the civil unrest that followed, images of the ravaged building and its inventory were seen around the world as Kenosha became the focus of news coverage.

Store manager Scott Carpenter certainly doesn’t forget that pain, but he and family members are busy making their new location an example of their resilience.

“We never skipped a beat,” Carpenter said. “We had customers who needed attention, or who we were in the middle of sales with. We had to keep moving forward.”

For the past few weeks, work has been focused on opening the doors at a new location at 7600 75th St., in the Kenosha Trade Park. At 4,000 square feet, it is a bit smaller than the former 60th Street location, but the available inventory has not shrunk. B&L uses a separate warehouse for items that aren’t seen on its retail floor.

“It gets us to feeling like our purpose is being served,” Carpenter explained. “Customers have a place to come to and shop our inventory. It’s a bit more difficult being in a smaller spot because we can’t keep a lot of our used furniture on hand here.”

‘Encouraging words’

Carpenter said it’s difficult to talk about what the business has gone through without sounding like a cliché.

“What happened may have been horrific and a huge setback,” he said. “But the encouraging words that have come from so many people and the support really helps you get through these hard times.”

Opening the doors again “gets us to feeling like our purpose is being served,” Carpenter added.

For all the excitement of reopening in a new spot, there lingers a fondness for what has been lost. Carpenter said the 60th Street location was a prime viewing location for the Kenosha Civic Veterans Parade.

“We’d back the truck up and the kids would sit in the back of it and watch the parade,” he said. “Those were fun days. We would have a cookout. Friends would park in the parking lot and we would get out the lawn chairs.”

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