A Merritt business owner is branching out to West Kelowna.

City Furniture owner Das Kandola has relocated to Westbank to open another branch of the furniture chain there ? and the 13th store in the Kandola family.

Although Kandola has relocated, he still owns and manages the Merritt store, and will spend his first year commuting between West Kelowna and Merritt to visit his family while he works on both stores.

“My middle daughter is graduating this year, and after that, we’ll have to make a family decision on what we’re going to do. There’s no way you’re going to move any child at that age,” Kandola said with a laugh.

Kandola’s eldest daughter is already in university, while his youngest is going into Grade 6. He said although a move to West Kelowna might be in the family’s future, Merritt is their home base.

“Merritt will always be home to myself and my family because our kids grew up there from birth, and I’ve got a lot of good ties to Merritt,” he said. “I’m working here day and night to get this store set up. That would have left very little family life anyway. Those are the sacrifices you make if you want to expand.”

Kandola moved to Merritt in 1990, the year after the local City Furniture store opened. He said the store will continue day-to-day operations as normal in his absence.

“It’s been a bit of a juggling task trying to be there in Merritt and full-time here now, but I do have a very good staff in Merritt to carry on day-to-day business like we have for a long time,” Kandola said, adding that some staff members have been with the store for nearly two decades. “If I didn’t have the capable staff I have in place, I would’ve thought twice about relocating personally.”

Kandola said he saw the move coming for a while, and it was just a matter of finding the right timing and location to expand his business.

“It’s been a couple of years [since] I decided at some point in life, I will have to make a move and expand City Furniture,” he said. “It was at a point where I really could not grow anymore in Merritt. I was maxed out, hit the ceiling, and I have another good 20 years in me to work hard, and in order for me to do that, I had to expand. That expansion happens to be in West Kelowna because it’s closer to home for me.”

Kandola started working on the West Kelowna store in early July and said it will be ready to open in the next three to four weeks.

Kandola has also been a member of the Rotary Club of Merritt Sunrise for 17 years, and at various times involved with the chamber of commerce and the Punjabi Canadian Roots Club.

“Some of those commitments, on a personal level, I can’t commit to anymore being in West Kelowna,” he said. “As far as City Furniture’s commitment to the community, nothing will change. We want to let the folks know there will be not a lot of changes as far as City Furniture’s involvement with various community groups and service groups. Our commitment will always be there.”

Kandola said the expansion could also benefit shoppers at the local City Furniture store, who will have access to more furniture lines with the growing buying power of the expanding chain.

“This will be 100 per cent co-operation between the two stores,” he said.

Kandola is hosting a “business after business” networking event tonight at the local City Furniture store at 6:30 p.m.