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December 26, 2013

Southside furniture store closing doors

Furniture Gallery owners say they are ready for new chapter in life

TERRE HAUTE — After opening with a bang 14 years ago, the Furniture Gallery, a southside Terre Haute business, has closed on its own terms, company owners said Thursday.

It’s not a slow economy or competition that has closed the Furniture Gallery after 14 years in business, said co-owner Kim Worland. It’s just time for something new, she said.

“I’ve got a few more chapters left,” said Worland, a familiar face from her television commercials over the years promoting her business.

“I’m a promoter, that’s for sure,” she said Thursday inside her store. “I’ve always been selling. I started out selling Girl Scout cookies.”

The Furniture Gallery, a 51,000-square-foot furniture store at South Seventh Street and U.S. 41, closed up shop at 8 p.m. Monday.

It will re-open Jan. 1 for a liquidation sale until everything inside is gone, said Worland and her husband, Jim. The property and the building will be for sale, but the business, Furniture Gallery, is not, Kim said.

“The economy’s been tough, but that’s not why I’m closing,” Kim said. “Nothing is wrong.”

Furniture Gallery has 17 employees, the Worlands said. Most of them learned of the store closing Thursday morning and were still in a bit of shock later that day.

“It has been really great” working at the Furniture Gallery, said Jason Allen, who has been at the southside business almost since the day it opened. “It’s upsetting,” he said, but he remained optimistic and knows there is still plenty of work at the store until all of the inventory is gone. Allen has worked in the furniture business for most of his life since graduating from Terre Haute North Vigo in 1990, he said.

“It’s been wonderful here,” Allen said standing in the 20,000-square-foot warehouse. “I’m going to miss it.”

Long-time office manager Robin Sartor learned of the closing a little earlier. “I want what’s best for them [the Worlands],” she said. Like Allen, she has no firm plans yet for the future.

Kim Worland, a 1979 West Vigo graduate, brought her years of sales and promotion experience to the Furniture Gallery when it opened Jan. 1, 1999. The store’s grand opening featured hundreds of people drawn to meet Jeanne Cooper, a decades-long star of “The Young and the Restless.”

Cooper’s appearance at Furniture Gallery made it “the most successful grand opening I’ve ever seen in the Wabash Valley, and I’ve been to a lot of them,” Worland told the Tribune-Star in 1999.

Jim Worland, a third-generation furniture dealer, said the retail furniture business has changed over the years, moving toward bigger stores, making it tougher for independent dealers to survive, he said. Most furniture is now imported, and stores have to buy large quantities to get the best prices, he said. Even so, the Furniture Gallery managed to compete, he said.

Meeting thousands of people was the best part of the business, the Worlands said.

“It paid off with thousands and thousands of new friends,” Kim said. People buy furniture and then “you become a part of their lives,” she said. “I’m going to miss the people the most.”

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com

 

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