DANBURY — Lou Tomas has made the short trip from his suburban Danbury home to the city’s downtown every day for more than 40 years.
As the owner of European’s Furniture and Gifts for 38 of those years, Tomas has built a long list of clients and friends. At the end of this month, however, Tomas will retire and close the shop at 213 Main St. that has been his home away from home for nearly four decades.
“It’s been a very good 38 years, but it’s time to close. It’s been a long time,” Tomas said. “It’s tough to retire. I’ll miss the daily routine and seeing friends. I want to thank the community for allowing us to service them. My clients became my friends.”
Tomas owns the building and said he will seek new tenants once his business vacates. He is holding a sale on his remaining merchandise and said he will donate most of the inventory that does not sell. He plans to renovate the Main Street entrance to make it more desirable for prospective tenants. There is also a back entrance accessible from a municipal parking lot.
“I’ll still be around to check on the building, but other than that, I hope to relax more. Now I can take care of my house that has been neglected for 40 years,” Tomas said. “I volunteer at different institutions and I’ll be adding to my time volunteering. And I’ll play more golf.”
European’s Furniture and Gifts has been at that location since it opened in 1978.
Tomas was born in Portugal and moved to Danbury in 1968. He opened Faltom Jewelers with business partner Jose Falcao in 1976 on the opposite side of Main Street. They moved their business to the other side because of parking considerations. Faltom Jewelers is still in business at 207 Main St.
When Tomas and his business partners, Falcao and Antonio Tadeu, opened European’s Furniture and Gifts, the space at 213 Main St. was a mini-mall with six or seven tenants, he recalled.
“As the businesses left, we decided to fill the space by expanding our store,” Tomas said. “As the years passed, we (partners) bought each other out of the businesses and I ended up as the only owner of the furniture store. We bought the buildings, which is why we’ve been able to stay in business for so long.”
Europrean’s Furniture and Gifts occupies 5,000 square feet. Tomas said he will be able to subdivide the space to meet the needs of new tenants.
“One business closes and another opens,” Tomas said.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton recognized European Furniture and Gifts as a longtime business in downtown Danbury.
“They’ve been there a long time and I’m thankful for their years of business on Main Street,” Boughton said.
Tomas, as a property owner, will continue to monitor what happens in the downtown area. He is optimistic about the future of the area based on recent revitalization efforts by CityCenter Danbury.
“It’s not the same downtown, I can say that,” Tomas said. “To me, it’s still a safe and viable downtown. I wish there was more foot traffic, but it is what it is. I think what they are doing will improve downtown. There are a lot of good vibes going on.”