Colony House Liquidating
Clint Engel -- Furniture Today, October 11, 2011
ARLINGTON, Va. - Colony House Furniture is in the midst of liquidating and closing after 75 years of business in the Washington, D.C., market.
Planned Furniture Promotions is running the sale, which should wrap up before the end of the year, said Michael Diffee, third generation co-owner of the high-end store with his brother JR Diffee.
He declined to disclose projections on how much the sale will generate, but he said results so far have been strong.
"We're going out on our own terms, not forced out by creditors," Michael Diffee said. "Our vendors have been paid and all the merchandise we had on back-order is now delivered. No one is being left high and dry."
Like many furniture retailers, Colony House has struggled in the past few years. In 2006, it closed a 40,000-square-foot store in Centreville, Va., after three years operating there, consolidating to its 30,000-square-foot Arlington store.
Diffee said the Centerville store was a victim of bad timing and a bad location. He said the economy also has hurt the Arlington store.
"Obviously it's been a tough market for the last two years, so we've been marketing the (Arlington) property," he added. The Diffees sold the Arlington building in February, a move that helped clear up cash flow problems.
As a struggling high-end retailer, Colony House is not alone. Last month, Bograd's Fine Furniture in Riverdale, N.J., said it was calling it quits, too. CEO Joe Bograd said that operating a single large, high-end store stocked with millions of dollars of display merchandise was a dying business model.
Diffee echoed that sentiment.
"It's unfortunate, but this special order-concentrated, high-end business seems to be waning," he said. When custom order business slows in a tough economic environment, that compounds the problem of having so much capital tied up in expensive inventory, he added.
Colony House was established in 1936 by the Diffees' grandfather James Diffee and was later led by their father, William Diffee Sr., before the sons took the helm. The retailer has long been a source for such high-end lines as Hickory Chair, Henkel-Harris, Sherrill, Theodore Alexander, Hancock & Moore, Hekman, Sligh and Precedent.
And like Bograd's, Colony House has been hearing from customers who have shopped the retailer for years and are sorry to see it close, Michael Diffee said.
"We've served the community for 75 years, and it's sad to be going away," he said. "But we had to do the right thing for the company and the family."
- Sep 16, 2011