Furniture West owner Gene Demeerleer puts a price tag on a couch last week. (PHIL BULLOCK/The Observer)
Family-owned store to shut doors after 24 years in business
LA GRANDE — The 16-foot red rocker is coming down.
After 24 years of business, Furniture West is closing its doors.
The signs are up and the sales have started.
“Today wasn’t supposed to be busy,” owner Gene Demeerleer said laughing as customers steadily walked through the door Tuesday afternoon.
Demeerleer said the mass ads haven’t even gone out yet.
When they do, “It’ll be an absolute zoo,” Demeerleer said.
The choice wasn’t easy, but Demeerleer will be buying out his father’s stores in Moscow, Idaho.
“Basically it’s a family financial obligation,” he said.
Liquidation of more than $1 million in furniture has started.
Demeerleer’s father, James Demeerler, established Furniture West in 1970 in Moscow. Now, Gene is taking over the business. Unfortunately, Gene Demeerleer said, that means leaving the La Grande location.
“I’m not going to coexist,” he said. “This was a tough move. It was the toughest decision I’ve had to make in business because of my fondness for La Grande.”
Demeerleer isn’t sure what’s next for the building at 215 Elm St., which he owns. Some current employees are working on a business plan with hopes that it can remain a furniture store.
Over the past two decades, Demeerleer said his customers have become friends.
“That’s the emotional part of it,” he said.
But with the constant foot traffic since he put up “Going out of business signs,” he will have plenty of opportunities to make new friends.
“You’ve got to leave the area as good or better than you find it,” he said.
Plus, as he reminds customers, the stores in Moses Lake, Wash. and Moscow, Idaho are open.
“Come see us,” Demeerleer said. “Don’t be a stranger.”