Lebow Furniture in Royersford prepares to go out of business
ROYERSFORD - With Lebow Furniture Co. slated to close up for good soon after more than six decades, borough residents and longtime customers are reaching out to the family-owned business with their best wishes and appreciation.
"We've been flooded," said Susan Lebow, vice president and granddaughter of original founders Chick and Adele Lebow, Wednesday morning.
Between online messages, people lingering at the doors outside and the stream of phone calls, Susan Lebow said they've received an overwhelmingly positive response to their decision to close made public earlier this week.
"(It's) really showing that people have appreciated what we have done," she said.
"We've been here 63 years and the town's been very good," said Roger Lebow, the current owner of the store and the son of the founders and Susan's father.
Roger said his parents made sure to give special attention to each customer in the community from the time the business started in 1949.
"Some people didn't even have good credit and we gave them a shot," Roger said. "They came through for us and people appreciate that. They do appreciate the personalized service we've been giving all this time. It's something that when I came along we just continued."
"The community has just been good to us and we've tried to support the community," Roger said.
The decision to close was based on falling revenue due to the general down economy.
"When the business first started, it was a big business and it's been a big business," Susan said. "With the economy, everyone's felt the hit and so have we. The past few years, expenses have dwindled and expenses have continued to rise."
As such, Susan said it became time "to make a tough decision."
Such a decision left the Lebows with some anxiety.
"Obviously, we were nervous leading up to everything, but people were really taking it into their own hands and reaching out and offering to help us, which has been nice."
Roger and Susan recalled one customer who had already placed an order for furniture.
"He had just been a customer for so many years and offered to come and help out and it was amazing to hear him," Susan said. "He literally didn't even want to leave the store. He was like, `What can I do to help you?' And we've had dozens of people ... we've really had a lot of people offer that."
"People like doing business with us because of how we treat them," Roger said.
Many the Lebows have dealt with are repeat customers.
"We still talk to people (who) say they bought all their furniture from us," Roger said.
"I find a lot of people come in and say, `Oh, my grandparents shopped with your grandfather,'" Susan said.
It's not infrequent to sell to third generation customers, according to Roger Lebow.
The Lebows greatly appreciate the support of their customers over the years.
With the departure of Lebow Furniture, the list of vacant businesses in downtown Royersford gets larger. In close proximity to the Lebow showroom are several other closed shops such as Fairfax Hardware, GT McKissick's Appliances and Salon Elite.
"Obviously, downtown has changed drastically, as everybody knows, and we've tried to do what we can to bring the community together and bring people downtown and keep supporting our area where he grew up," Susan Lebow said. "I grew up (here), my grandparents grew up (here, too). The whole thing. And, obviously, it's a very sad time for us to have to do this."
"Small towns are not what they used to be," Roger said. "We've been able to hang in here because furniture is a little different. People will travel to buy furniture. But there are definitely less storefronts in Royersford than there used to be. I guess that's had an effect on us because there's less draw to the town."
The Lebows actually had a chance to leave Royersford not long ago.
"At one point in time, I guess it was a little over 20 years ago, when we added on to our store, we talked about the possibility of moving," Roger said. "At that time, we just wanted to stick to our roots and stay here in town."
Unfortunately, the reality of the down economy meant the Lebows couldn't keep their business feasibly running. But that doesn't mean they're going to forsake their home.
"We hope for the best for the town," Susan said. "We're going to stick by it as long as we can."
The future of the Lebow buildings is not yet settled as they are working through the current "hectic" period of setting up for the liquidation.
Red tags dot the various items throughout the store, boasting heavily reduced prices. Roger spoke with a marker nearby for labeling the tags. Elsewhere in the store, calls were answered and others worked to get items ready for the weekend.
Sales to empty the stores of all their products, as well as fixtures, will continue every weekend until the store sells out.
The Lebows also say they'll stay in business long enough to fulfill all orders and services.
Although the future of the buildings in the company are uncertain, Roger said he might stay in the furniture business as a sales representative and Susan said she has gotten a few looks for other positions, which she appreciates because it shows the "respect" others in the industry have for her and her family.
Both Roger and Susan believe the personal nature of their store since its beginning has helped it stand the test of more than six decades.
"You don't get to go to a business and deal with the straight owners," Susan said. "I think that has really gotten us this far."
Follow Frank Otto on Twitter @fottojourno.