By Gary Lloyd
TRUSSVILLE — Billy Braden is in favor of the widening of North Chalkville Road to make room for a dedicated right turn lane, despite it meaning the end of his company’s location on the corner of that road and Main Street.
Braden’s Furniture has been in the location for 57 years, founded by Braden’s father Vernon and later bought by Billy in 1989.
“We’ve been here for so long, and we’re going to have to move,” Braden said.
The Trussville City Council last month authorized Mayor Gene Melton to close on the Ellison Investments property for a future right turn lane. The property will cost the city of Trussville $250,000. The city is poised to acquire adjoining properties along North Chalkville Road, including Braden’s Furniture, for the future right turn lane, which is expected to be in place by 2016. Melton projected the cost to be about $2.2 million to acquire all the properties necessary to construct the turn lane.
The Braden’s Furniture property likely appraises for well in excess of $1 million.
Braden said he will relocate the business, something he hopes the city will help him with. He said he would like to stay in Trussville.
“Trussville is my first choice,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll stay in the downtown area somewhere.”
Braden said he’s had conversations with Melton about the property, but there is not yet a commitment. Braden said moving a company is not an easy thing to do, something that will require it to “reinvent” itself somewhere else.
Braden also wanted the community to know the struggles the business has been through over the past 10 years. The 2003 flood caused a $280,000 loss, a former employee embezzled about $471,000 between 2003 and 2010, and the Great Recession “took my company to its knees,” Braden said. At the height of the company’s best years, it employed 14 people. Today, it employs six.
Braden said the company hasn’t been able to contribute to community events and sports programs like it used to. He said the business hasn’t been a “good steward” for the community due to the losses it has incurred over the past 10 years.
“It is amazing what losses in excess of $1 million can do to a company,” Braden said. “It’s so embarrassing and heartbreaking to be at the level that we were and to be at the level we are now, because I know what it took to get here.”
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.