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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, May 9, 2019 6 months ago

Skycraft Parts & Surplus plans to sell store and relocate

The electronic parts store on Fairbanks Avenue is looking to move to another location nearby.
by: Tim Freed Managing Editor

Skycraft Parts & Surplus in Winter Park is hoping to take flight to a new location, but don’t worry, model-builders and hobbyists: They wouldn’t be going far.

The owners of the electronic parts and supplies store have put their iconic UFO and rocket adorned store off Fairbanks Avenue up for sale. It’s a move that would allow Skycraft to open a new location just down the street within its already existing 17,000-square-foot warehouse at 700 Harold Ave. behind 4 Rivers Smokehouse.

President and majority owner Allen Fiedler said it’s time to move from the old store his father built in 1978. Moving into the warehouse would allow the business to have more supplies in stock, because the current store only has about 6,000 square feet of space in comparison, he said.

“The value of the property had increased enough that I think it’s time to move, and we’re known well enough I think that the majority of people will follow us,” Fiedler said. “In the end we hope it helps, because we’re going to be able to display and sell — available for them to see — a lot more material that we have stored that’s too large to bring over.”

As of Tuesday, May 7, the Skycraft property and surrounding four residential lots are listed for $5.5 million by Cushman & Wakefield. Fiedler said construction along Interstate 4 played a major role in the decision to sell and move to a space with more room. Ever since the reconfiguration of the Fairbanks Avenue ramps, the store has seen a major decrease in sales, he said.

“It just dropped dramatically overnight the day they did that,” Fiedler said. “It’s not just us — the traffic in general along Fairbanks has been really affected by it. We monitor how many sales there are per day. … It’s dropped at least 35% I would say.”

As for the store’s signature rockets and UFO, Fiedler said the objects aren’t allowed on top of a building because of city codes — the old Skycraft store was grandfathered in.

Fiedler’s son and lead manager Keith Fiedler said the store still will try to keep the iconic decorative aircraft and implement them in some way.

“We’re definitely hoping we can bring the rockets and the saucer with us,” he said. “Everybody always says, ‘Oh, that place with the flying saucer on top and the rockets.’ We’re hoping to be able to do that.”

A quick look around inside the store and your eyes are likely to spot more than a few unusual and interesting trinkets collected over the years. Shillelagh tank fired guided missiles hang from the ceiling, and there’s even a few NASA artifacts — such as space shuttle tiles and a launch control panel that was used for Titan IIIC and IV.

“We were regulars over there at the auctions, and we bought tons of stuff, including some space shuttle things,” Allen Fiedler said. “(NASA) was saying ‘You know, only astronauts in general have these things, so be glad you got it.’ They quit selling that kind of thing once the shuttle program took off.”

The sale would mark an exciting new chapter for Skycraft, with his son taking over and applying his own savvy to the business, Allen Fiedler said.

“I want to continue the legacy — it’ll be a third-generation business with him running it, so my plan once I’ve sold the property is to let the managers purchase the company,” Allen Fiedler said.

“I’m real thrilled for my son and the managers — they’ve been loyal employees for about 30 years,” he said. “I’m glad to pass it on. I know my sister and brother-in-law are also. I think they’ll be very successful.”

Tim Freed is the Managing Editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. He previously spent six years covering the Winter Park/Maitland area and is a graduate of the University of Central Florida....

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