Today’s news:

Paradise Furniture expands on Bell Blvd.

A Bayside furniture store has expanded its showroom along Bell Boulevard amid the closing of other stores along the strip more than three years after the business was heavily damaged by a suspicious three-alarm fire.

Paradise Furniture opened in its new space at 42-23 Bell Blvd. on Jan. 1 after having operated for three years at a site one-third its size next door. The full space had been used by Kraus & Sons, which closed more than five years ago, for its home improvement and interior furnishings business.

Paradise’s new locale had been occupied by Broadway Carpet, which had moved to the space from across the street but closed down more than one year ago, leaving the storefront vacant.

The furniture store first opened in 1975 at 42-03 Bell Blvd. next to the Carvel ice cream shop, but a massive blaze Aug. 21, 2006, destroyed all of its merchandise.

Bruce Davis, the store’s owner, said his furniture shop was not forced to close down after the fire due to support from community patrons and merchants, thereby allowing for the eventual expansion of the business founded 35 years before by his uncle.

“It was never an option to close,” he said. “I decided not to leave Bell Boulevard because of the tremendous support the community gave me. Sometimes, it’s not until something bad that you realize people really care.”

Paradise Furniture will host a grand re-opening Feb. 6 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The shop includes a variety of items, including sofas, tables, bedroom and living room sets, mattresses and children’s furniture.

But a variety of other stores along the commercial strip have closed amid the economic downturn, such as longtime sports bar First Edition and a Payless shoe store.

The 2006 blaze gutted Paradise’s building and severely damaged the Carvel ice cream shop next door, causing it to close. Tenants in the four apartments above the two stores were displaced, but the units were renovated last year and have since been occupied.

City Fire Department officials said the fire was treated as suspicious, but a cause was never found. A spokesman said the fire began on the furniture store’s first floor and spread to the upper floors.

Paradise Furniture lost all of its merchandise after the blaze destroyed the inventory in its basement and on its first floor.

Davis said he was originally against moving his store into a larger locale, but also thought the community was in need of a furniture shop.

“We needed more product on the floor to show people,” he said. “There are not many furniture stores anymore and we didn’t want our customers having to drive out to Long Island when there is a store in the community.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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