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BizBeat: Classroom Connection to close in 2021, new family business moving into space

by Nicole Roberts | December 13, 2020 at 6:00 a.m. | Updated December 13, 2020 at 4:31 p.m.
Liv Paggiarino/News Tribune Marla and Tom Nilges stand for a portrait inside their shop on McCarty Street, Classroom Connection Educational Materials, on Thursday afternoon. Classroom Connection will be going out of business, and the Nilges are currently offering a 35% discount across the store to get rid of their supply. They intend to move their other family business, the Cotter Pin Cellar, into the building, which they own.

After nearly 16 years in business, Classroom Connection and Educational Materials will close in early 2021.

Located at 1500 E. McCarty St. in Jefferson City, the store is currently set to close at the end of February 2021, manager Rita Nilges said.

"We thank each and every one of them that has shopped with us in our 15-plus years," she said. "We're going to miss them, and we appreciate the fact that they have done business with us and kept us here for as long as we could."

Classroom Connection, owned by Tom and Marla Nilges, began liquidation sales earlier this month. Throughout December, in-store items will be 35 percent off. Starting in January, items will be 50 percent off.

Rita Nilges also encouraged customers to redeem their gift cards before the store closes.

Over the last few years, in-store foot traffic has been decreasing, Rita Nilges said. She attributed that to the rise of online shopping from bigger stores.

"People would come in to pick up something in the store, they would say, 'Oh, I bought that on Amazon,' or, 'Oh, I bought that on Walmart,'" she said. "They (big companies with online shopping) ship it free to your door, and it's usually at a cheaper price than we could do because we've got a building and utilities and a storefront to keep up."

The final nail in the coffin was the coronavirus pandemic. July and August are usually busy months at Classroom Connection, but the unknowns surrounding the fall semester dampened sales, Rita Nilges said.

"We heard from many of them (teachers) that they weren't going to spend the money to decorate their classroom if they didn't even know if they were going to be back with in-person classes," she said.

The Nilges family already has a plan for the soon-to-be-empty space, though.

Tom and Marla Nilges own Cotter Pin Cellar and operate the store out of their house garage.

Cotter Pin Cellar specializes in Fiesta dinnerware, farmhouse decor and chalk-painted furniture.

Once Classroom Connection closes, the Nilges family will relocate Cotter Pin Cellar to 1500 E. McCarty St.

Tom Nilges said he hopes to open Cotter Pin Cellar at the new location by May.

"It's always exciting to grow something like that," Tom Nilges said. "It's something Marla has always wanted to do, and she's excited to see how it will go over."

Before Cotter Pin Cellar can move into its new space, Tom needs to do some cosmetic renovations to the building, such as painting and replacing paneling, he said.

The new space will be significantly larger - 2,500 square feet compared to the 400-square-foot garage space.

Know of any business happenings around Jefferson City? Let us know at [email protected]

Print Headline: BizBeat: Classroom Connection to close in 2021, new family business moving into space

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