Long-time retailer vacating downtown


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A long-standing retailer in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids is tightening its operations.

Groskopf’s Luggage, an over-100-year-old, family-owned seller of leather travel goods, plans to close its shop at 112 Monroe Center St. NW and move all remaining inventory to its second store, at 1200 E. Paris Ave. SE., by Nov. 1.

“Making this move is not something we take lightly,” said Doug Bickel, store manager of Groskopf’s on Monroe Center. “We have a soft spot for downtown Grand Rapids and leaving is not something that’s easy to do, but the current retail climate has forced our hand.”

Bickel cited the growth of online retail and fewer people shopping brick-and-mortar as the reason for consolidating.  

Groskopf’s downtown store is also closing because one of the principal owners, Jeff Heth, is retiring, leaving his brother John Heth as the sole owner between two stores.

“I’ve hit 71 this year,” Jeff Heth said. “It’s time to retire and let the next generation take over. It’s going to be more efficient. Doug has been with us at least from high school on. He’s got 40 years plus of experience, John has 55 and my daughter Katie has at least 20.”

Bickel added, “With today’s climate, it’s difficult to get decent help in the retail sector. Hopefully, we can focus our efforts our experience in one building and have a better selection of merchandise in one spot.”

To streamline the relocation process, Groskopf’s downtown store will have a moving sale beginning the first week of ArtPrize through the month of October. Bickel said all items will be marked 20-percent off, in addition to some items that are already on sale.

“We have some great things on sale already,” Bickel said. “Depending on what you’re looking at, you’ll save anything from 20 to 70 percent.”

The East Paris store already offers a larger footprint, with 3,500 square feet of retail space compared to downtown’s 2,500 square feet.

“The main thing is being able to put all the inventory in one spot and have better customer service,” Jeff Heth said. “We’re making sure we’re going to stick around — this is just another way of doing it.”

Groskopf’s Luggage was established in 1881 in downtown Grand Rapids, and the company opened its East Paris location in 1996.

John Heth and Jeff Heth are fourth-generation owners of the family business.

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