By RUSS OLIVO
WOONSOCKET – The old industrial building that used to house Athena's Home Novelties could soon serve as warehousing space for another of the region's legacy brands – Bellingham Electric.
Workers at the home appliance store, located at 250 Pulaski Blvd. in nearby Bellingham, said they expect 640 Winter St. to become new storage space for the company. Another worker at Northeast Finishing, which owns 640 Winter St., said the leasing agreement isn't official yet, however.
“Technically it hasn't been signed,” she said.
Jennifer Jolicoeur, founder of Athena's Home Novelties, told The Call that her company was forced to relocate when the owners of 640 Winter St., which changed hands recently, told her they had reached an agreement to lease space in the building to another tenant. The company, which caters to the “adult toy” market, according to its website, had been located at the site for almost 18 years.
Midway through the pandemic, when Athena's was struggling with supply and distribution issues brought on by COVID-19, Jolicoeur's company acquired space in a building located at 1296 Park East Drive – in Highland Corporate Park – for its new headquarters. The space was previously occupied by an events management firm that could not survive the challenges of enforced social distancing.
“640 Winter St. was sold during COVID-19 and the new owner found a tenant and gave us 90 days to vacate,” Jolicoeur said.
Bellingham Electric is one of the largest independently owned vendors of appliances for the home, including refrigerators, dishwashers and laundry equipment, in the region. The company has been in business since 1953 and carries all the major brands. It's owned by Robert Allaire.
Built in 1900, 640 Winter St. is a three-story, brick building with nearly 40,000 square feet of floor space, according to the assessor's online database. But it's unclear how much of that Bellingham Electric intends to occupy. Jeff Allaire, the chief operations officer for the company, said he might have more to say about the arrangement after it's all official.
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