Business

Two local furniture outlets close in Silverdale

"Two furniture chain outlets - HomeLife Furniture and Krause's Custom Crafted Furniture - closed Silverdale stores last week, raising concerns about whether the bottom has fallen out of the local home furnishings market.The HomeLife closure came as a surprise to employees, who had little warning before they were laid off.There were some challenges with the distribution part of the business, but not to the point where we thought this would happen. It was a shock, said a former Silverdale HomeLife employee who asked not to be identified.Local furniture seller Deborah Dreher speculated that the closures are more a symptom of problems with corporate structures than problems with the local economy.The stores that closed were chains. I don't think it's a sign of our community, I think large multi-store chains have to figure out stores that aren't producing and close them in slow times, said Dreher, owner of Classic Woods Furniture.But she acknowledged that the slowing economy has taken its toll on the industry.I know from my manufacturers and sales reps that it has been slow going in the first six months of (2001), Dreher said.The HomeLife employee said she was told the store might reopen if the chain gets back on its feet. The store's Web site, ehomelife.com, said otherwise.All merchandise currently in our stores and warehouses will be liquidated, the Web site reported. Liquidation sale information will be announced as soon as it is available.Information for people awaiting furniture delivery also is available on the Web site.HomeLife ran into problems when it failed to pay suppliers earlier this year, according to a Reuters news report. The 128-store chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.The store, located near the Barnes and Noble bookstore on Randall Way, has accrued high debt - it owes $44.9 million to LifeStyle Holdings Ltd., $28 million to Meno Logistics and $10.7 million to Sears Roebuck, former owner of the furniture store. HomeLife officials did not return telephone calls seeking comment.Krause's, located on 3114 Randall Way, also has filed for Chapter 11 protection, but only 32 of the store's 89 showrooms are closing. The firm has secured financing and commitments from vendors to resume raw materials shipments, and will be able to operate its factory and and deliver existing and new orders, according to a report on its Web site.The company will exit the Portland, Chicago, Dallas, and Houston markets and previously announced closure of of showrooms in Colorado Springs, Ft. Lauderdale, and Atlanta. The company plans to retain 880 of its 988 employees following anticipated closings of showrooms and distribution centers.In its bankruptcy petition, Krause's officials said a poor economic environment was to blame for the Chapter 11 filing, and the furniture industry is at the whim of economic trends more than other industries. Calls to Krause's corporate headquarters also were not returned. "

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