TO CLOSE OR NOT TO CLOSE…THAT IS THE QUESTION! PART 2 OF 3
HOW DOES ALL THIS CONCERN THE TRADITIONAL FURNITURE STORE OWNER?
Our economy has changed quite remarkably giving us reason to believe that we must adapt to our changing times. Ashley Furniture Home Stores, IKEA, and Rooms To Go are the number one, two, and three retail furniture companies in the country. They obviously have determined what the ‘Buying Public’ wants and gives it to them. Unfortunately, the customer does not want the treasured generational, handed-down keepsakes that have long built the furniture business. They want what looks good to them at an affordable price. This is a disposable society that has been weaned on this concept for the last several years. Cars, phones, TV’s, jewelry, sound systems, and much more are becoming interchangeable as the populace demands in this ever-present ‘I-want-the-latest-and-greatest’ community. Because the economy has faltered, people have lost their homes, their jobs, and their dignity. They don’t care what people think anymore. They want what they want, and they want it now! What happens to the mainline furniture store that has been in business for years? Where are the customers from days gone by? Why am I not enjoying the furniture business any longer? What happened to the discretionary part-of-the-dollar in household budgets that was assigned to home furnishings? Most importantly, “WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE?”
It is time to ask some difficult questions. The ANSWERS to these questions could mean the difference between success and failure.
- Will the economy turn around anytime soon?
- Is my annual volume on the downslide?
- Am I losing business to the chains and catalogue houses?
- Am I just keeping my head above water?
- Am I so emotionally attached to my business that I am afraid to let go?
Why are these ANSWERS important? Because the answers will determine your course of action. So many furniture stores have gone bankrupt and HAD to leave the industry in a manner less than suitable. On the other hand when faced with adversity, some retailers like Bograd’s (in New Jersey) and Kacey Fine Furniture (in Colorado) exited the marketplace not only with their integrity, AND with a nice next egg to provide for their families. They made a sound and fortuitous decision. They did not wait until it was too late. In fact, Joe Bograd has an interesting observation about the viability of high-end furniture retailing: “This was a very tough decision for us. We would not trust anyone but the Lynch Sales Company to close our store. We hired the Lynch Sales Company because of their integrity, their people, the simplicity of their contract and because they are the only ones that truly understand the high-end business.’‘…..“But I cannot close my business that I worked so hard to build all of these years,” YOU might say. What’s the alternative? Hang on too long and then really be upside down with no way out?