Years in Business
Given To All
Article in Tribune Chronicle 11-04-01
WARREN - In the 1960’s, real estate developer William Cafaro approached retailer Winfield Gilmour with an idea: Move his furniture and appliance store from downtown Warren to a new shopping mall Cafaro was building in Niles.
Gilmour declined, mainly because just six months earlier he'd bought the Howard Shields building on East Market Street in downtown Warren.
More than 30 years later, his children, Tom and Cheri Gilmour, are keeping the family's roots firmly in Warren with the opening of Gilmour's Carpet Gallery at 227 Elm Road, N.E.
On Sept. 28, the Gilmour’s bought the building that housed the Carpet Gallery. Now, they're ready to help pump some life into the downtown retail market, which has lost many businesses to Cafaro's Eastwood Mall and suburban shopping centers.
"We remain optimistic," Cheri Gilmour said when asked about prospects for business growth in downtown Warren. "I'd love to see some empty stores filled to attract shoppers. We have to work on finding businesses that would be interested in locating downtown."
Gilmour said Warren might be able to attract shoppers if it patterns itself after Chagrin Falls, a quaint town between Warren and Cleveland that boasts flourishing restaurant and collectible businesses.
"I think people would like the Chagrin Falls concept," said Cheri Gilmour, adding that there's no magic bullet. "We need a mix of all businesses."
Tom Gilmour said the downtown will survive because it's the Trumbull County seat, which brings in government and professional workers, as well as the county's banking center.
"People have to eat, but we hope people also shop," he said, adding much depends on a stronger economy. "We're in a slight recession. You go through these periods, and you just have to stay optimistic."
The Gilmour’s are starting at a difficult economic time. The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have triggered what many experts believe will be a recession, although exactly how deep and long is unclear.
The attacks have affected the Gilmour's business, just as they did nearly every other business, they said.
"Prior to that, business was fairly steady. It's down one-third, if not more," said Cheri Gilmour, who attended Kent State University with the notion of being a teacher, but changed her major to design when she discovered she liked working with fabric.
Gilmour family businesses have survived all kinds of economic and technological upheavals. Winfield Gilmour started repairing radios in a small store at the corner of Chestnut Avenue and East Market Street in the mid-1930s.
After World War II, he moved into a building next to the existing Evaline's Bridal Shop on the corner of East Market Street and Pine Avenue, a building that since has been torn down and is part of First Place Bank's parking lot.
There, he began selling appliances, including a new contraption that seemed to be catching on - television sets.
The family store later moved across East Market Street to the former Daniel's Theatre building, now the Racquetball Club. He followed that by buying the nearby Howard Shield's building, a structure that also was torn down and is now a parking lot.
The Gilmour’s are intent on seeing their store avoid the parking lot syndrome. Their store offers a full range of products and services, including curtains and other window treatments, as well as floor coverings and custom designs.