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Longtime Ashland business Nimbus for sale, could close after lease expires

Shopkeeper Ken Silverman, 66, wants to retire and his Ashland landmark Nimbus, perhaps the last store standing on the Ashland Plaza from the 1970s, is for sale — asking price $475,000.

Silverman’s lease expires in July and the terms allow for a five-year renewal, but he would like to keep going for not that long — a few months or years — to see if he can find a good buyer, so as to avoid breaking it up and selling the pieces, he says.

The listing of Silverman’s trendy, upscale store, has attracted at least one interested party, who is due in town to check it out later in the month, but, “It’s a long shot. I am looking to retire. I believe (the potential buyer) wants to keep it as is. They will be spending the weekend and checking it out, asking questions. She is from the corporate world of clothing and my impression is it would continue on, as is, more or less.”

Nimbus was established by Brooks Hodapp in 1971 after he scoped out Ashland on the way home to Eureka from the first Oregon Country Fair. He loved the beauty, growing flock of young alternative consumers and the “sleepy” business district, which offered little competition with hip, young clothing and leather goods, which he was skilled at making.

Hodapp told the Tidings for a previous article that he and his girlfriend, both good at making jewelry, and Ken Fox, good at making stained glass, decided to go for it, opening the store previously occupied by the old Village Fair shop and a repair bay for Lithia Motors, which was expanding to Medford.

Current owner Silverman has been manager, partner or owner of Nimbus since 1977. “It’s part of my life,” he says. “It’s largely what I identify as. This (selling) is a big deal to me. The responsibility for it is wearing thin. What I want is to be irresponsible for a while. I’ve had a great career. It’s been fun. I’m so grateful and I made a living and got to live in this great town.”

Silverman says he just got back from a back-country skiing jaunt in Canada and that sharpened his interest in travel. He is also devoted to his role on the board of Jefferson Public Radio and wants to enrich that.

Silverman says he has been approached by many who, on the internet, see his age and time in business and coax him to break it up and sell all the fixtures and inventories, which are Euro-inspired and up-to-date.

“I’m doing 42 or 43 years here and I wouldn’t say I’m worn out. I still enjoy it, though the energy for doing creative changes that I’d like to see regularly, that’s not as available and I’m just not as ambitious.”

Silverman’s eye-catching and fascinating clothing and houseware store “for him, for her, for home,” has held its ground through the decades while Rare Earth and other mainstays on the Plaza have changed hands, their original mission shifting over time.

The selling of a longterm business in Ashland usually takes place, not though real estate agents or far-reaching internet platforms, but by word-of-mouth — or a relative or manager takes over, says Silverman.

“Word of mouth is still the most likely way,” he says.

Silverman is still trying to stretch out the deadline of his lease to buy more time for a good disposition of Nimbus, but there will be more news, he says, in coming weeks.

— John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.