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Leon & Lulu owners have plans for former theater

An artist’sAn artist’s rendering shows a 70-year-old former movie house in Clawson, Mich., that Detroit-area retailer Leon & Lulu has acquired and will renovate to expand its business.
CLAWSON, Mich. - The owners of retailer Leon & Lulu have purchased a former movie house here next door to their existing store and plan to transform it into a 7,800-square-foot showroom and café, possibly under a different name.
     The Clawson Theater was built in 1941 but hasn't shown a film since about 1962, said the Detroit-area middle-to upper-midpriced retailer of home furnishings, gifts and other merchandise. The building has since been used as a warehouse and café among other things but most recently has been vacant.
     Leon & Lulu said it will replace the marquee and restore the building, "embracing the history and the spirit of ‘The Show,' as the locals called it," with plans to open next spring.
     Mary Liz Curtin, who co-owns Leon & Lulu with her husband, Stephen Scannell, said they are not sure what they'll call the new store.
     "It will clearly be an extension of our business, but exactly how we (execute it) is a little bit up in the air," she said. "This place is so much fun and so magical, that we have to make sure our second location isn't an also-ran, that we make it as much fun as the first building."
     Curtin said the company will explore new offerings for the space - possibly outdoor furniture and special purchases.
     The couple opened Leon & Lulu in 2006 in the 15,000-square-foot Ambassador Roller Rink in Clawson and received national recognition for adaptive reuse of the building. That store features the original rink floors, hockey scoreboard, disco ball and over three hundred pairs of skates, which are used in displays, and sometimes on employees' feet.
     Curtin declined to disclose the purchase price or sales projections for the new location or Leon & Lulu's overall sales. She did say the company expects to invest close to $1 million in the restoration work - as it did with Leon & Lulu.
     "We're starting to get the bids for the roof, and the marquee and the glass - and that's before I get to have any fun," she said.
     The building will require massive renovation and retrofitting to regain its "classic downtown Main Street theater" appearance and will include space for both retail and a coffee shop and bakery, the company said.
     Furniture, bedding and accessories sales account for roughly 40% to 50% of the Leon & Lulu's business, Curtin said. Key furniture suppliers include Four Hands, Rowe and its Robin Bruce division, Cisco Bros., Paladin and Global Views
     "My husband and I are delighted to bring another Clawson landmark back to life," Curtin said, adding that the theater "will give us more room for merchandise, charity events and, of course, lots of fun."

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