Monday, June 22, 2009

M. Abraham Importer Oriental Rugs Expands

June 20
Store to expand into Lowe’s bar and restaurant

Former W-B eatery site sold for $235,000

By Jerry Lynott
Business Writer

WILKES-BARRE – The closing of Lowe’s bar and restaurant opened the door for Ali Kazimi to expand his downtown floor covering business.

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The front of M. Abraham Importer and Lowe’s bar and restaurant on West Market Street in Wilkes-Barre as seen in January of 2008. The owner of M. Abraham Importer, Ali Kazimi, bought the property that housed the now-closed Lowe’s and will expand his floor covering business. Kazimi will now have approximately 2,200 extra square feet to display his Oriental rugs in a street-level showroom. The store’s other floor covering choices of carpeting, tile, hardwoods and laminates will be in the basement of the former Lowe’s building. The second and third floors will be converted into apartments.

Times Leader file photo/fred adams

Kazimi, owner of M. Abraham Importer on West Market, bought the adjacent property for $235,000 and has begun renovations.

“I’m hoping within the next 30 days everything will be done,” Kazimi said Friday.

Tom Williams, owner of Lowe’s, confirmed the sale. “I think he’s going to do great things,” Williams said of Kazimi.

The acquisition will add approximately 2,200 square feet for Kazimi to display his Oriental rugs in a street-level showroom. Customers will access the added space through an interior opening between the two buildings.

The basement of the former Lowe’s building will contain the store’s other floor covering selections of hardwoods, tile, carpeting and laminates. The second and third floors will be converted into apartments.

The purchase is proof he is committed to the city, he said. He acknowledged that he had some trouble over the sale of a parking lot next to the former Hotel Sterling, but he has moved on from that issue. The city was going to exercise eminent domain over the lot, but in 2007, after three years of negotiations, Sterling developer CityVest agreed to pay $650,000 for the lot, lower than Kazimi’s original asking price of $700,000.

“I still believe in Wilkes-Barre and the success of Wilkes-Barre. That’s why I did the investment,” Kazimi said.

He has been in the business since 1974, but it has been in his family much longer. Kazimi’s great uncle Mohamed Abraham started it in 1927 and operated it until his passing in 1975. Abraham’s nephew, David Abraham, took over and Kazimi purchased the business in 1989.

“I am third generation,” Kazimi, 55, said. A fourth generation, Kazimi’s 28-year-old son Hussein, just joined the business.

“Wyoming Valley has been very nice to the Kazimi family. That is why we’re sticking around,” Kazimi said.

Jerry Lynott, a Times Leader staff writer, can be contacted at 570 829-7237.