Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Furniture Stores in for Fight

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Furniture Stores in for Fight

Article excerpt

A wave of new stores and expansions is making the furniture

market competitive in Jacksonville and putting pressure on

independent dealers.

But while one store went bankrupt this year and another closed

temporarily, other dealers say they are up to the challenge.

"It's definitely gotten a lot more competitive in the last

couple of years. There are a lot more people trying to do

business and not enough business to go around," said Tom Pedano,

owner of Masters Fine Furniture Reproductions on St. Augustine

Road.

The owner of L. Bee Furniture Co., which closed and filed for

bankruptcy in February, blamed part of his 44-year-old store's

demise on new competition and a tough retail market.

Three weeks later, the bank backing R.C. Jones furniture at

Jacksonville Beach seized inventory, forcing the store to close

temporarily.

And Marvin Lazarus, who plans to close his Marlin's Furniture

Co. after 38 years on Normandy Boulevard, said he has watched

the industry move from being dominated by small independent

stores to large national chains.

However, that did not play a role in his decision to retire and

close.

"I'm 66 years old," Lazarus said. "We're in financially sound

shape. I'm retiring. I like the idea of going out of business

while we're still strong and at our own timing."

Area furniture stores have watched as a variety of chains have

opened new stores and as others have expanded, especially near

The Avenues mall.

And next month, Rhodes Furniture plans to open its fifth and

largest area store -- a 63,000-square-foot store -- in the

Regency Park shopping center.

Earlier this month, Interior Concepts of The Avenues opened a

6,000-square-foot store in The Avenues mall.

In December, Atlanta-based Storehouse Furniture opened a

free-standing store near The Avenues in an area that is already

packed with furniture stores including Rooms To Go, Ethan Allen

Home Interiors, Haverty's Fine Furniture and Rhodes.

Other expansions in the area include Heilig-Meyers Co. and Sears

Homelife. Heilig-Meyers opened stores in the Beach Boulevard

Shopping Center and in the Paxson Shopping Center on Edgewood

Avenue last June, and Sears opened Homelife stores in Orange

Park and in Regency in late 1993. …

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