Cedar Grove Furniture Company made it further than most retail furniture stores.
In fact, owner Don Henry says it’s one of the oldest locally owned furniture store still standing from Lewisburg to Huntington.
“There were about 30 stores that sold furniture when I took over [Cedar Grove Furniture],” Henry said of area competition, mentioning The Diamond department store and Woodrums Home Outfitting Company. “Then it was us.”
But Cedar Grove Furniture will soon join those shuttered businesses, closing its doors for good after 69 years of selling furniture. The business’ “retirement sale” opens to the public Sept. 23, Henry said. A private sale for customers on the store’s mailing list begins Sept. 20, he said.
Someone has agreed to buy the warehouse that houses the furniture store, with more than 34,000 square feet of space. Henry declined to provide specifics of the buyer and the building’s future, but said he expects details would be announced soon.
That made his decision to close the store easier. At 72 years old, he’d been mulling retirement.
Henry’s reasons for closing the store also include a sharp drop in sales -– a 60 percent decline in the past eight years, he said. He attributes that figure to high unemployment in the state, competition from large chain outlets and people simply not buying furniture as much as they used to.
“Furniture isn’t quite a priority anymore,” he said. “People would rather spend on cell phones, vacations and experiences.”
The sales drop meant the business couldn’t fill out its ranks like it used to. Besides Henry, the store employs four people — a steep drop from its peak of 18 employees around 1990, when business was at its peak, Henry said.
It wasn’t a short stint for Cedar Grove Furniture, or Henry, at the store’s location off U.S. 60 in eastern Kanawha County. Henry was office manager at the store in the mid-1970s when he bought one-third of the business.
“I just saw an opportunity,” Henry said.
He bought the remaining two-thirds a few years later from the previous owners, who included Kent Hall, a future Charleston mayor.
Cedar Grove Furniture used to offer carpets, appliances and televisions, but eventually sold furniture exclusively, Henry said. Customers have filed in from across West Virginia to buy the store’s wares through the years, with the Charleston metro area, Putnam County and the Beckley-Fayetteville area bringing in the most business, he said.
Cedar Grove Furniture received an award for its community presence recently, being presented with the Distinguished Service Award by Marine Corps League Detachment No. 947 in July. Henry is a Marine Corps veteran.
At the retirement sale, the store will have roughly $900,000 worth of furniture available, Henry said.
Henry said after Cedar Grove closes its doors, he will simply retire, with no ambitious vacation plans in the works.
Even with the sales decline over the years, Henry said he’ll miss several aspects of running the store, most of all talking and catching up with loyal customers.
“I want [Cedar Grove Furniture] to be remembered for good service to its customers and quality furniture,” he said.
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