Downtown retailer set to turn the lights off

A retail fixture in downtown Knoxville is going out of business. The closing of Keener Lighting could open another door in the transformation of the neighborhood.

Owner Bob Keener rides the old freight elevator to the third floor. Upstairs the move is already underway

"Right now we're trying to clear the merchandise off the top floor. We have three floors in the building so there's quite a bit of stuff," he said.

Keener is selling the inventory to another local electric supply business. He and three of his employees will go to work for them.

In the ground floor showroom his wife Kathy is helping customers; everything is on sale. They are known for their Tiffany stained glass lamp reproductions. The sale offers buyers a final chance at owning a Tiffany original.

Even the building itself is unique. At the corner of Broadway and Jackson Avenue, it has housed a thriving business for close to a century.

"It was built in the late '20s. I believe a Firestone dealership was here originally. In the '50s I know GE supply was in here and when they moved out Highland Products was here."

Keener Lighting flipped the on switch in 1973. They're about to turn off the lights, but the owners say there is already lots of interest among developers keeping this a bright spot in the neighborhood.

"We haven't put it up for sale yet but I've already had seven or eight people contact me," said Keener.

He hopes those buyers will spark new interest in downtown.

"I think the building will be preserved; I think it will be put to a new good use."

For now they're focused on the buyers headed into the showroom. Keener hopes to be moved out by early June.


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