Owner of Morris Sokol Furniture closing doors, Upper King property in high demand

Published: Jul. 7, 2015 at 10:30 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 7, 2015 at 10:31 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The iconic Morris Sokol Furniture store on Upper King is closing its doors.

It's owner, Joe Sokol, announced Tuesday that he's ready to retire and close down  the company after 94 years in business.

You can't miss the massive red letters, it's a Charleston staple.

"In 1957, we opened the store as you see it now," said Joe Sokol, owner of Morris Sokol Furniture.

Sokol's father, Morris Sokol, bought the land and opened their furniture store on King Street.

When they first opened up shop, their store was one of the biggest in their neighbors.

"Now its different," said Sokol. "It's grown, to me, in a positive way with a good mixture and good, solid people."

These days, Upper King is packed with new bars and restaurants. Sokol credits Mayor Joe Riley and his efforts to grow the local economy.

"Finally, we've got traffic, we've got walking traffic on Upper King Street and that's something that we've needed for a long time," said Sokol.

Sokol knows he's sitting on a plot of land in high demand.

"This is a big one, this is 47,000 square feet," said Sokol.

Commercial real estate brokers have been keeping their eye on it.

"I know that there have been a lot of folks pursuing his space," said Boulware.

"A retail store front space is very difficult and if something comes available, it's typically leased within two or three days," said Thomas Boulware, senior broker, NAI Avant.

Boulware says as more apartments and hotels are popping up along Upper King, the demand for retail is growing on Upper King.

"I don't think that we will be seeing as many bars on Upper King street as we have in the recent past," said Boulware.

Sokol tells me the building is not officially on the market, but he's getting interest.

"A lot of hotel people have looked and walked around and asked about it," said Sokol.

Sokol has nearly 25 employees, some of whom have worked for the furniture store for nearly 30 years. He says that was part of what made his decision to close the store so difficult.

For Sokol, now it's about closing this chapter of his life, saying goodbye to his faithful employees and enjoying retirement at the age of 83.

"I look at that sign that's on the side of the street over there and I say 'hmmm, now where am I going to put that sign?," said Sokol.

The remaining inventory will be sold in "Joe Retirement Sale" starting July 16.

Morris Sokol wants to sell as much as they can, so they're not setting a store closing date just yet.

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