Online retailer Artbeads.com purchased the building located just south of the Shell gas station and Key Center Auto Repair on the Key Peninsula Highway for $1.375 million and plans to move there in September.

According to the company’s Website, “Artbeads.com was established in 1999 as an online bead store specializing in handmade sterling silver beads from Bali and India.” They have since added beads from many other countries, and they cater to “individual bead artists as well as bead stores and professional designers.”

The business, which presently employs approximately 45 employees, outgrew its previous location on Wollochet Drive NW in Gig Harbor. Devin Kimura and his wife, Cynthia, own the online retailer.

While researching this story, KP News discovered that a number of individuals and organizations worked cooperatively to ensure that Artbeads.com stayed in Pierce County and ultimately moved to the peninsula. They included: State Rep. Derek Kilmer; Kevin Clegg, economic development specialist for Pierce County; David Nishimura, business retention and recruitment specialist for Tacoma/Pierce County; and Joe Phillips, special assistant to Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg.

Devin Kimura says, “First of all we have outgrown our present business location, and being an online business, staying in Gig Harbor doesn’t really make sense given the high cost of land, parking, and everything else. We had considered Kitsap County, but thanks to the support we got from the Pierce County Economic Development Board, we decided that we wanted to stay in Pierce County… They made sure we were in contact with all the right people. And also the building fits well with our business model — a large warehouse-style flexspace. A small retail component will be added at an undetermined future date.”

The building, which previously belonged to Brian Overland, owner and CEO of Storage Tech, will continue to house that business as well. Rather than store actual documents, the way it originally did, Storage Tech now stores them electronically.

“As the focus changed from dry to electronic storage, we don’t need as many people working in the warehouse,” Overland says. “We need a small number of employees with the right technical skills.” Which is why Storage Tech plans to lease back approximately 40 percent of the available space and remain where it is.

In addition to the building in which both companies will be housed, Artbeads.com bought an adjoining 2.3- acre parcel of land, which is included in the total purchase price of $1.375 million.

But in order for the two firms to utilize the existing structure, some changes will have to be made. “It’s what they call a cold shell,” Kimura says. “It wasn’t finished with a heating system. We’ll be adding administration offices upstairs. The remainder of our operation will be on the lower level.”

When asked about the possibility of making improvements to the septic system, Kimura says, “I think we’ll be fine… We’re going to monitor usage. We’ll expand if need be.”

Expansion may be necessary if the company continues to grow, not just for the building that Artbeads.com is moving into, but surrounding businesses as well. Kim Marvik, vice president of Colliers International who brokered the sale, says, “He (Kimura) hopes to grow to perhaps 90 or 100 employees within the next three years. I believe it will impact our area. That particular facility has been sitting unoccupied since construction. The employee base will require services and there might be some retail added to the building in the future.”

Kimura says of his present employees and their reaction to the move, “Everybody’s excited. We have a lot of employees who live out in Lakebay, Home, and Key Center. We have some employees coming from Silverdale, Bremerton, and Port Orchard, too. The drive will be easier for them.”

As for the possibility of adding even more employees in the future, Kimura says, “Oh, definitely. We hope to create quite a few new jobs in the area. We will focus hiring on the Key Peninsula… The whole area is great — and has a lot of potential for growth.”

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