Flooring business spruces up downtown corner

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  • Workers with Western Neon hang a new sign over Roybal’s Abbey Carpet & Floor on South Main Street in Kalispell on Nov. 29. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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    Paul Roybal of Roybal’s Abbey Carpet & Floor in Kalispell on Dec. 19. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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    Hardwood flooring samples inside the showroom at Roybal’s Abbey Carpet & Floor in Kalispell on Wednesday, Dec. 19. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

  • Workers with Western Neon hang a new sign over Roybal’s Abbey Carpet & Floor on South Main Street in Kalispell on Nov. 29. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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    Paul Roybal of Roybal’s Abbey Carpet & Floor in Kalispell on Dec. 19. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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    Hardwood flooring samples inside the showroom at Roybal’s Abbey Carpet & Floor in Kalispell on Wednesday, Dec. 19. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

When Paul Roybal purchased a historic 21,000-square-foot space in downtown Kalispell, he was well aware of how much work it would take to make it a proper home for Roybal’s Abbey Carpet and Floor.

The property, built in 1924 on the intersection of Main and Center streets, was one of Kalispell’s original retail buildings. It had housed Kelly’s Main Street Furniture for decades and after the furniture store closed for good in late 2004, sat empty for about seven years.

“It was in the kind of condition that scared peopl e away,” Roybal said.

But he saw a great opportunity in late 2012, when the price for the building dropped to just over 10 percent of its 2005 listing. Starting in January 2013, Roybal and a small crew put in one hundred 15-hour days of intense remodeling and reconstruction. They enclosed staircases, upgraded the boiler system, uncovered windows on the back alley side, added bathrooms and took care of infrastructure issues such as water in the basement and crumbling support beams.

He also received tax-increment financing funds to help with water and fire-suppression infrastructure projects.

After his extensive investments in time and talent, he now enjoys the benefits of being located on one of the busiest corners in Kalispell.

“The visibility here is second to none,” he said. “Every red light, we have 20 visitors looking into the showroom.”

Roybal recently completed a few attention-gaining projects on the facade of his building, painting the exterior a dark red and adding a large new sign. He is cognizant of the importance of retailers making a contribution to sprucing up the downtown corridor while drawing attention to their own businesses.

“When I purchased my building in 2012, my building, and what is now the Toggery and the brewery were all like big vacant mausoleums,” he said. “Thanks to other entrepreneurs who took the leap of faith, we’re all working hard to enhance the activity of downtown.”

Roybal’s showroom fills about 7,000 square feet of his building. The 6,000-square-foot basement and the upstairs, at 4,500 square feet, are both currently being offered for lease at a bargain price.

When a tenant takes over the second floor, Roybal intends to remove the walls that currently cover three giant windows overlooking Main Street. He’s also prepared the space, currently a blank canvas, for plumbing and other necessary modifications.

Roybal had decades of flooring-installation experience to his credit before going retail. The impetus to jump into the sales side came when he was purchasing furniture at Bitney’s in 2004 and he saw that Bitney’s had closed its flooring department but still had considerable stock.

“Instead of buying furniture, I bought their flooring,” he said.

He opened Roybal’s Flooring in a building on Meridian Road in Kalispell in 2005. He stayed in that location about a year, then moved south of town.

Drawing on his reputation as a skilled installer, Roybal saw sales escalate at a rapid pace.

“We built up the business to where we were doing 279 new homes in 2008,” he said, adding that 98 percent of his contracts were for new construction.

The recession didn’t really hit him until about 2010, when his business decreased by 95 percent. He managed to survive, though, until the opportunity arrived to take possession of his current location.

Since then his business model has flipped, with remodel work filling 90 percent of his orders. He has a small staff of himself and one salesperson, and subcontracts all his installation to people he trusts to perform to his high standards.

Royball has turned the former Roy Stanley Chevrolet dealership in Kalispell into a warehouse and place to receive deliveries.

He would prefer to have everything under one roof, but he also realizes the benefits to being downtown. He recently participated in the holiday Art Walk & Holiday Stroll, and about 250 people were lured into his showroom for his spread of food and drinks.

“I’ve already gone out on two different sites and done estimates for clients I met at the Artwalk,” he said.

For more information, visit www.kalispell.abbeycarpet.com

Business reporter Heidi Gaiser may be reached at 758-4438 or hgaiser@dailyinterlake.com.

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