PFP Handling Casey’s Furniture store closing
Louis Casey has navigated a number of economic and market shifts during his 43 years at the family furniture store in downtown Temple.
However, the final chapter in the more than 75-year history of Casey’s Furniture will be written by him.
Casey’s, launched sometime in the mid-1930s, will close its historic 33,000-square-foot showroom and warehouse on South Second Street by January 2013. A going-out-of-business sale starts Thursday.
Its Belton location has been closed for several years.
“We’ve enjoyed every minute of it, but there’s a time and place for everything and it’s time for us to do something else,” said Casey, whose grandfather founded the business originally known as Household Furniture Company. “We’ve had success and enjoyed the loyalty of thousands of customers, but it’s time for us to move on to the next phase of our lives.”
His wife, Charlynn, will continue to work as a licensed interior designer. She hasn’t chosen where to base her business after the store closes.
“In the retail business, it’s six days a week,” Casey said. “I will be able to do things I have not taken the time to do. Spend more time with family, grandchildren, travel, do a little fishing.”
“And some unknowns,” Charlynn Casey interjected. “And some unknowns,” he agreed.
The building — and several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of merchandise — is for sale. The massive liquidation is not overly emotional for the owner of the business, but parting with eight employees and thousands of customers is another story, Casey said.
“That’s the most disappointing thing about closing the store is they’ve been longtime, loyal employees and that’s the hardest part of the decision,” said Casey, who has two employees with more than 20 years each at the store. “They are great, capable people and they will find other places to work.”
For Elaine Caughlin, the salesperson who customers typically request by first name or as “the brown-haired lady,” losing the store means losing a social connection. It’s also like losing her home, she said.
“I’ve said, ‘I gotta go home,’ before, and then realized that I was talking about going to work,” said Caughlin, a Casey’s employee for 27 years. “I look forward to getting up and going to work every day. It’s like a family.”
While Casey is a third-generation owner, he said his two grown sons are not interested in becoming fourth-generation heirs. That’s probably for the best, he said, citing changes in consumer attitudes and price deflation, largely due to offshore wood furniture
“This business model served us extremely well, but I’m not sure this model can make another generation,” Casey said. “It would be challenging for them to be successful going forward.
“The consumer is changing,” he added. “The emphasis is not so much on lifetime purchases. They are more inclined to purchase disposable products.”
The economy has presented pitfalls of its own, Casey said.
“Home furnishings is tied to the housing market, and when the housing market is weak, it affects our business,” he said. “The economic challenges of today are severe, but it’s not something we haven’t seen previously.”
Casey keeps a reminder of that fact in his furniture store office.
Years ago, he found a note handwritten by his great-grandfather and tucked away at his old harness and tire store in the site of the former Molly’s Deli, now Texas Tavern. The letter penned in 1918 politely informed a customer of a 14-month overdue bill.
“Some things never change,” Casey said, laughing.