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William Landau, Ethan Allen retailer

Heath E. Combs, Staff Staff -- Furniture Today, July 16, 2007

William Landau, president of Ethan Allen retail organization W.L. Landau in New York and New Jersey, has died of pancreatic cancer. He was 81.

Landau, a World War II veteran, earned a degree in accounting and worked at his father-in-law's monument carving firm and as a traveling dress salesman before venturing into the furniture business with an Army buddy. His first store was C.M. Whitney, an Early American furniture specialist in Union, N.J.

In 1962, he met Nat Ancell, co-founder of Ethan Allen and, with Ancell's encouragement, opened an Ethan Allen store in River Edge, N.J. Doing business as W.L. Landau's Carriage House, Landau and his wife, Laurie, established the store's reputation as a home interiors destination in Bergen County.

At a time when the typical furniture store showed product in rows arranged by price, the couple helped pioneer the concept of displaying room settings of coordinated home furnishings. Recognized as one of the top Ethan Allen dealers nationwide, the Landaus won sales and marketing awards for their creative approach to business.

Landau was a longtime member of the Ethan Allen Retail Advisory Group. In 1998, Ethan Allen Chairman and CEO Farooq Kathwari awarded him the prestigious Golden Kite award for service to the company.

Landau's personal motto in business was, "I may not ever be the biggest furniture operation around but I want to be the best." Today, W.L. Landau operates Ethan Allen Design Centers in Bergen County, N.J., and Rockland and Westchester counties in New York, and is run by a partnership including a member from each of his three daughters' families. Landau was active in the business until his death.

He is survived by his wife; three daughters and their spouses, Lois and Andy Leeds, Pamela and David Connolly, and Nancy and Josh Gillon; seven granddaughters; one great-granddaughter and one sister.

Donations in his memory may be sent to Hospice of Englewood Hospital, 75 Demarest Ave., Englewood, N.J. 07631.

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