Friday, January 11, 2008


It's been so long since we had a recession, you kind of forget what they look like. Well this is what they look like...except there are many more articles like this. Still, it's a start and something to remember/think about.

Update: Some people haven't been able to access the site for some reason so here is the text. Thank you Contra Costa Times.

Home market stifles furniture dealers

# Housing crash, lack of consumer confidence cause stores to close
By George Avalos

Article Launched: 01/11/2008 03:08:42 AM PST

The collapse of the housing market has begun to produce some collateral wreckage, with the shutdown or downsizing of some home furnishings stores in the East Bay, including Thomasville Furniture.

Furniture Brands International Inc. has closed three Thomasville stores in the Bay Area, including two in the East Bay. Heritage House Galleries has shut its doors in Concord. Levitz Furniture has declared bankruptcy, is liquidating its operations and has decided to close its furniture stores, including five in the East Bay and one in San Joaquin County. Furnishings Concepts will close one of its two Pleasanton stores.

The housing troubles also have forced some developers to shift the focus of their retail centers. A shopping complex in Pleasanton has a number of home furnishings retailers, and the developer is seeking different kinds of tenants for some spaces.

"Home prices and home sales are declining, and that is bad news for a furniture retailer," said Laura Champine, a home products analyst with Morgan Keegan, an investment firm. "The struggles for the furniture industry are due to housing. The issues in housing are affecting home products pretty much across the board."

The Thomasville stores that closed locally were in Walnut Creek, Antioch and San Rafael. Thomasville will keep its stores in Dublin and San Jose open, the company said.

"The housing market is a factor insofar as it has an effect on overall consumer confidence and the desire by consumers to
make those purchases," said Lynn Chipperfield, a senior vice president with Furniture Brands, the owner of the Thomasville stores.

Furniture is the type of purchase that wary consumers can postpone, he said.

"We find that the furniture business is not so much affected by any single economic issue as it is by overall consumer confidence," Chipperfield said.

Levitz is closing all its stores, including its area showrooms in Dublin, Hayward, San Leandro, Pinole, Concord and Stockton, according to the company's Web site and local employees.

"Furniture-related tenants are all being affected," said Sandra Weck, a Colliers International realty broker. "But the housing problems have not affected restaurant or apparel tenants."

The difficulties have forced some developers to recast their marketing strategies. The Rose Pavilion center on Rosewood Drive near Santa Rita Road in Pleasanton is one such case.

"Some of the furniture stores are struggling, so the owner is looking at that as an opportunity to bring in new tenants," said Hilary Parker, a Colliers broker. "He wants to bring in retail or restaurant tenants that are not in furniture or home improvements."

One prospective tenant for Rose Pavilion, Broyhill Furniture, initially had decided to enter that project. But Broyhill, owned by Furniture Brands, never occupied the space it had been planning to rent, according to a December report by the city of Pleasanton.

Despite the difficulties in housing, Parker said she believes Rose Pavilion can be successfully reoriented.

"The location is great and the demand is there," Parker said.

In large part, that's because the housing epidemic has infected only one slice of the retail market, she said.

"Retail is doing well, but furniture is the only sector that seems to be dragging," Parker said.

George Avalos covers jobs, economic development, commercial real estate, finance and petroleum. Reach him at 925-977-8477 or


Thomasville has closed three Bay Area stores, but its Dublin and San Jose stores will remain open. People with consumer purchase questions should call Thomasville at 510-441-6070.

The locations of the three stores that closed in December were:

# Antioch: 5875 Lone Tree Way

# Walnut Creek: 1450 N. California Blvd.

# San Rafael: 530 Francisco Blvd. West