Paul Sullivan finds Christmas angel; Renton’s Uptown Glassworks to remain open

Paul Sullivan has found his Christmas angel.

“The star was shining today,” he said this week.

He’s working out the final details of an agreement to sell ownership of his Uptown Glassworks on Main Avenue South in downtown Renton to a partnership of three investors. He declined to give details of the investment, other than to say it’s “not huge.”

“We hope to wrap it up by the end of the year and make a nice clean transition,” Sullivan said.

Without investors, Sullivan said back in October he would close his glass-blowing shop in Christmas Day. He was looking for a Christmas angel.

But last month a potential investor approached Sullivan. Kevin Kohler, who works across the street as a software developer for Alliance 2020, was looking for a new challenge.

Kohler didn’t have enough money to seal a financial deal with Sullivan. But Sullivan had two other investors in mind who will join Kohler in the partnership.

“I am making the commitment to go for 2010,” Sullivan said of the shop’s future.

Sullivan will remain as the shop’s manager under a management agreement.

Sullivan’s personal debt was weighing on Uptown’s finances, Sullivan has said, while the shop itself has been seeing strong sales.

Those sales increased even more after a story appeared in the Renton Reporter about his financial trouble, Sullivan said. January already is shaping up to be a strong month, he said.

His customers, Sullivan said, “are all very relieved that the shop is moving back into good stable ground,” he said.

In exchange, Sullivan will have to give up ownership of Uptown, which he has owned since early 2007. However, his concern was keeping his employees working and the iconic shop open downtown. Selling Uptown was the only viable solution, he said.

“I have always been entrepreneurial and an equity guy,” he said.

While Uptown remains open, other glass-blowing shops in the region are closing, Sullivan said.

Uptown Glassworks be closed on Christmas Day, as usual. But its doors will open again the day after, Saturday.