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Finger Furniture back in business in Houston

Retailer reopens in big remodeled store
 Rodney FingerRodney Finger

HOUSTON — Rodney Finger has reopened the flagship Finger Furniture store here a year after debt problems and the recession had forced him out of the business.

Finger, who had sold his remaining Ashley Furniture HomeStores a year ago, has soft-opened the 200,000-square-foot remodeled Finger Furniture showroom on Gulf Freeway. It's part of a 600,000-square foot building that also includes a 50,000-square-foot clearance center and 250,000-square-foot warehouse.

The store, which is open while crews finish reconstruction work, features a mix of contemporary, traditional, country and transitional goods, as well as bedding from Sealy and Stearns & Foster and more than 2,000 area rugs, according to a press release. Other suppliers include Klaussner, Restonic, Palliser and Standard.

The Houston Chronicle reported that the price spectrum ranges from promotional to lower high-end and that the store also features an Urban Leather custom leather upholstery store-within-the-store owned by Tracy Weeks. Other features include a 10-foot aquarium, multiple big-screen televisions on which consumers can watch games or movies, a children's play area and a sports memorabilia museum.

Finger told the Chronicle that "debt killed us," noting that the company took out big loans starting in 2005 with an aggressive growth campaign under the leadership of his father, the late Robert Finger.

"We fought hard and made some very tough decisions in order to protect and preserve the Finger Furniture name," Finger said in the press release. "We maintained our Gulf Freeway location because we knew one day we'd be back."

In October 2006, Finger announced a multimillion-dollar expansion plan, projecting it would double its sales with the opening of up to a dozen Ashley stores, three large Finger showrooms and a new, state-of-the-art distribution center and headquarters in the Houston suburb of Sugar Land, Texas.
In August of 2008, after opening one new Finger store and four Ashley stores, the company announced it would liquidate its four Finger showrooms and convert entirely to Ashley HomeStores.

This past March, Finger sold its six-unit HomeStore business to Hill Country Furniture Partners, which also operates Ashley stores in Austin and San Antonio, Texas, and in the Seattle area.

That ended - temporarily, as it turns out - more than 80 years of a Finger furniture retailing presence in Houston. The deal did not include the Gulf Freeway property.

Rodney Finger told the Chronicle that selling the Ashley franchise reduced his debt by 90%, and that he had a six-month non-compete agreement with Ashley.

In the press release, he said he loves the business and his community and added, "The only response to getting knocked down is to get back up."

"I have spent the last two and a half years insuring the various stakeholders of Finger Furniture Co. were treated fairly," he said. "Now it is time to begin again."

He said the company is well capitalized and has preserved the "wonderful relationships we have in our industry."

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