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Robert Mason Co. Will Close Due to Fire-Related Financial Setbacks

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega Robert Mason Co. Will Close Due to Fire-Related Financial SetbacksPhoto by Walker Evans.
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The award-winning lifestyle brand Robert Mason Co. will cease its Columbus operations at the end of May. After a fire struck the store in 2014, owner and founder Robert Grimmett scrambled to keep financially afloat. Although he used every opportunity he could to increase revenue, he was ultimately unable to recover from the setback.

“Losing our new concept store on Brickel Street and our Columbus operations, which include robertmason.com, is another tragedy in a book that must now come to a close,” Grimmett said in a press release. “I’ve tried everything to keep the brand alive and in a forward momentum through tough times and incredible setbacks. Our customers kept that energy alive for all of us in the company. The staff and the customers will see the biggest loss here, I am sad and my heart is broken for them.”

Robert Mason Co. broke into the Columbus market as a pop-up in 2013. Only a year in, a fire struck his 208 square foot space, causing “not only a substantial monetary loss, but also came with legal repercussions with which Robert is still dealing to this day.”

Still, Grimmett proceeded with the opening of his Short North location in 2015, and it didn’t take long for the store and its line of journals, sketchbooks, pens, bags and accessories to generate sales and gain popularity. Grimmett’s brand, originally launched when he was 12 years old in Ravenswood, West Virginia, won a fair share of “Top 10” awards when it appeared on Brickel Street, including best start-up and best specialty store.

To keep revenue, Grimmett has launched several concepts, including a monthly subscription program called Robert Loves, as well as an art class showing how to use Robert Mason products through hand lettering and calligraphy lessons. The Robert Mason brand was also featured on EXPRESS.com, “perhaps the biggest accomplishment.”

Despite all this, Grimmett was “forced to concede to the substantial debt and legacy issues caused by the fire and regrettably is announcing that he is forced to cease operations.”

“Sadly this was not a result of poor performance, it was a product of cash flow constraints and debt resulting from the 2014 fire that destroyed the Gay Street Columbus store,” he said.

Although there is no exact date set for Robert Mason Co.’s closure, liquidation of the store, both the physical location and online, will begin this week. This might not be the end of Robert Mason in Columbus, however, as a press release revealed that the store’s closure “will not be the last chapter of his story and he wants everyone to continue to ‘Get Inspired.’”

The original West Virginia store is now owned by Grimmett’s parents, who bought it when Grimmett graduated high school. It will remain open.

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