COLUMBIA — Cool Stuff specialty shop and Hot Box Cookies late-night bakery, at 808 and 808-B E. Broadway, respectively, might be closing under a negotiation in the works between a national apparel store and Cool Stuff owner Arnie Fagan.
Fagan, the landlord of the building both stores occupy, sent an email to media outlets Tuesday that said Cool Stuff was "closing its doors forever." Corey Rimmel, the owner of Hot Box and Fagan's business partner, said Fagan made the negotiation without informing his employees. Rimmel said the terms of the negotiation could force Hot Box to leave its current location.
Fagan did not respond to multiple requests for a phone interview.
Rimmel said Rally House, a national college and professional recreational apparel shop, is interested in occupying the Hot Box and Cool Stuff premises and might be inching closer after the negotiation with Fagan.
But as Cool Stuff sits with covered-up windows and a clearance sale that runs until Feb. 29, Hot Box sits intact, bright and welcoming, right next door.
Rimmel said he isn't happy with the prospect of a new business in the building. After only recently being informed of the negotiation he didn't consent to, he said he was angry. He said he would love to be able to keep his shop open.
Fagan's former business partner, Elise Crohn, said she was with Fagan in 1988 when they decided to open up Cool Stuff — the shop that sold quirky trinkets, souvenirs from far-away places and "things that told a story." As a somewhat nomadic couple immersed in the resurgence of 1960s culture, Crohn and Fagan traversed the trails of Grateful Dead tours and also discovered other cultures abroad.
Rimmel opened Hot Box in 2008 after being inspired by the idea and business opportunity of a late-night cookie shop. He said Hot Box has seen tremendous success and popularity within the past few years, and he sees Fagan's move as undermining the success they've worked so hard for. Rimmel said Hot Box saw a 175 percent increase in sales between 2010 and 2011.
"He's ruining two of the stores that add to the charm of downtown Columbia," Rimmel said.
Rally House recently came to visit the the building that houses Hot Box and Cool Stuff, and said they could be considering to establish a facility within months, Rimmel said.
"I want the city of Columbia to know what Arnie Fagan is doing," Rimmel said. "Because frankly, there are a lot of people who've lived here awhile who really love these places."