Business

The Top Shop in Cedar Rapids looking to funnel 30-years of experience into counter top venture

Breakfast on your old countertop, supper on the new one

Jamie Jones, owner of The TopShop, at the countertop store's shop in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. In addition
Jamie Jones, owner of The TopShop, at the countertop store’s shop in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. In addition to cutting Formica counters to fit, TopShop can also custom-build cabinets to fit unique shapes. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — It takes a bit of looking to find the Top Shop, but that’s part of its history.

“It’s been great,” Jamie Jones said. “Customers who come in say, ‘I didn’t even know you were back here.’ Then I tell them the story.”

Jones, 47, had worked more than 20 years for longtime home improvement business Ar-Jay Center when its owners decided to sell in 2015.

“I built countertops and cabinets,” Jones said one recent morning. “One-shop guy that’s been here 30-plus years. You start a job and you grow up here, and you end up becoming partners with your boss.”

With Ar-Jay’s specialty operations going to separate new owners, Jones and colleague Jeff Palmer wanted to keep the countertop crew together, so they formed the Top Shop LLC.

They kept their showroom and shop in the rear of the former Ar-Jay building.

On most workday mornings, most of the company’s seven full-time employees are measuring or installing countertops at customers’ homes or businesses.

“We’re usually in and out of a house in three or four hours,” Jones said. “... You can eat breakfast on your old countertop and eat supper on your new one. That’s one of the things we specialize in, the one-day installation.”

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The crew returns to the shop in the afternoon to prepare materials for the next day’s jobs, cutting countertops to match their measurements.

Jones mans the showroom, where he’s “perfected the logistics of fast, ‘while-you-wait’ quotations,” according to Palmer.

“Bring in rough dimensions and a couple of cellphone pictures, we’ll pick out the material and I’ll get you a quote on the spot,” Jones said.

The material — most often granite, quartz or laminate — usually comes down to cost, with laminate the most affordable. Improvements in laminate, a compressed paper product, make it virtually indistinguishable from more expensive materials, Jones said.

“All laminate is, is a picture,” Jones said. “You go out and take a picture of a stone, and it’s printed. The material has changed dramatically as far as colors, and this year it’s textures.”

Most Top Shop customers are homeowners, but its work is also in local bars, restaurants, medical clinics and dental offices.

“A bucket of paint and a new countertop can really change the looks of your kitchen,” Jones said. “Most of the people who come in, there’s nothing wrong with their cabinets.”

Jones and Palmer credit the Top Shop’s success to their veteran employees’ experience.

“Every day you learn more and more,” Jones said. “When I’m around these gentlemen, I try to be a sponge.”

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Know a business that could make for an intriguing “My Biz” feature? Contact michaelchevy.castranova@thegazette.com.

At A Glance

• Co-owners: Jamie Jones, Jeff Palmer

• Business: The Top Shop

• Address: 5515 Council St. NE, Cedar Rapids

• Phone: (319) 393-1041

• Website: thetopshopcr.com

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