A baby furniture manufacturer and distributor will be closing its 210,000-square-foot waterfront warehouse as it looks for ways to cut shipping costs.
Storkcraft informed the Port of Bellingham and its Bellingham workers this week that it will not be renewing its lease at 1000 F St., in the former Georgia-Pacific tissue warehouse. The lease expires on June 30, but the company will stay on a month-to-month lease as it works through the inventory, said CEO Jim Moore.
Storkcraft manufactures cribs and other baby furniture at plants in Asia and has them shipped to Seattle and then up to Bellingham.
The closure of the warehouse will mean the loss of about 30 Bellingham jobs.
We love this community and if there was any way we could have made this work, we would have. We have slim margins in the furniture business.
Jim Moore, CEO of Storkcraft
The main reason for the warehouse closure has to do with the changing dynamics of the industry, especially as it deals with shipping costs, Moore said. When the company moved into the warehouse in 2008, it sold around 8 percent of its product on the Internet. Today that number is about 90 percent. Selling products online is a hyper-competitive market, he said, making savings on shipping costs crucial for survival.
The company has 26 factories in Asia, and the products currently arrive into the Port of Seattle and are shipped up to the warehouse in Bellingham. It’s significantly less expensive to have the products go into the Port of Long Beach, stored in a warehouse in Southern California and shipped out to customers. In the past few months, the company came to the conclusion that shipping costs out of the Pacific Northwest were so much higher than those out of Southern California that they were starting to lose customers to competitors because of the price difference.
“We love this community and if there was any way we could have made this work, we would have,” said Moore, who works out of Storkcraft’s office in Richmond, B.C., but has spent time in Bellingham. “We have slim margins in the furniture business.”
This announcement leaves the Port of Bellingham with the challenging task of filling the huge space — it’s roughly the size of two Bellingham Target stores — with one or more tenants. Shirley McFearin, the port’s real estate director, said they’ve had inquiries for space that large before but didn’t have something else that large available.
She said the port’s first choice would be to get one user for that space, but it also could be divided into smaller units. Splitting the building into smaller spaces would mean remodeling expenses, however.
As for industries that need large warehouse space, McFearin said the building would be a good fit for a variety of businesses, including those in manufacturing and distribution. Marine trades, an industry the port tries to attract on the waterfront, also could have businesses interested in a space that size.
That spot is a key piece of property in terms of revenue for the port. McFearin said it generated around $822,000 in annual revenue.
Storkcraft moved into the space in 2008 after Moore learned the building was available while visiting Bellingham. Previously, the building was used by GP as its tissue warehouse until 2007.