Carls Furniture, the venerable retailer whose origins date back to 1941, is closing its remaining three stores in Broward and launching a private liquidation sale, according to a letter sent to “preferred clients and friends.”
After 73 years and three generations serving South Florida, “the time has come to say goodbye and thank you,” Carls Furniture President Jeff Baker wrote in the letter, obtained by the Miami Herald.
“The furniture industry has been one of the hardest hit during our economic downfall. … We tried downsizing by reducing our number of locations and cutting overhead. However, even those changes and sacrifices were not enough.”
Carls, which operates stores in Coconut Creek, Pompano Beach and Fort Lauderdale, will hold a “private sale” for five days, beginning on Thursday, wrote Baker, who did not return calls seeking comment on Monday. It is not clear what date the stores will close to the public.
According to the letter, during the final liquidation sale, every item in the store will be marked down 30 percent to 70 percent. A bonus certificate at the bottom of the letter provides an additional 10 percent off. Letter recipients can bring friends and relatives to the sale, but someone must have a copy of the letter to gain entry, Baker wrote.
At the height of its pre-recession dominance, Carls Furniture and its patio division had 22 showrooms from Kendall to Stuart and as far as California. The upscale furniture chain consistently ranked among the top 100 furniture stores in the country in terms of revenue.
When the housing market collapsed in 2007, furniture chains across the country suffered severe blows. In South Florida, big-name stores like Robb & Stucky, Modernage and Dream House closed in the wake of the recession. In 2008 it and Carls Patio split into separate companies; Carls Patio remains in business with nine South Florida locations.
Carls filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2011, closing stores in Kendall and Boca Raton and leaving several others open; the company emerged a year later, downsized and reorganized.
Carls showed signs of trouble even before the recession. Its sales dropped to $119.9 million in 2007 from $134.2 million in 2005. Revenue continued to decline, with 2009-2010 year-over-year sales slumping 30 percent, from $26 million to $19 million.
South Florida-based competitors Ashley Furniture, Baer’s Furniture, City Furniture and El Dorado have managed to survive the recession and, in several cases, expand.