September 6, 2019
Shutting store, Rankin’s plans catalog furniture sales
Photo/Don Del Rosso
Changing the furniture retailer’s business model will allow it to cut prices, owner Jim Rankin says.
The big companies are coming in and running the little companies out of business.
— Furniture store owner James Rankin
360 Waterloo St., Waterloo Station shopping center, Warrenton
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
• Website: www.rankinsfurnishings.com
• Facebook page: Click here
Within two months, Rankin’s Furniture plans to shut its doors and operate as a catalog business from the family-owned hardware store at Warrenton Village Center.
Eliminating overhead costs — rent, utilities and insurance — for the approximately 12,000-square-foot store at Warrenton’s Waterloo Station will allow the business to cut prices and make it more competitive, owner James Rankin said.
When he started the business 1992, Warrenton already had three new furniture stores, all of them since gone, Mr. Rankin recalled.
He hopes lower prices — for the same quality of furniture and services — will attract young customers.
“We’re not getting them because our pricing is higher,” said Mr. Rankin, 88.
He decided about a month ago to switch to catalog sales.
“The people have been good to us, and that’s why we want to continue,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of customers that rely on us,” Sales Manager Ann Jenkins added.
He knows of no other “independent” furniture store that has shifted to only catalog sales, Mr. Rankin said.
The generally grim prospects for many categories of independent, “bricks-and-mortar” retailers also prompted the new strategy, he said.
Nationwide, “the big companies are coming in and running the little companies out of business,” Mr. Rankin explained, acknowledging that his furniture store has lost money recently.
A small sales area, including a limited furniture display, will occupy a portion of Rankins True Value hardware store, which opened in 1966.
Under the plan, the staff will use catalogs of the store's furniture suppliers to help customers make selections.
Furniture will be received at the hardware store and, if requested, delivered to customers.
The business also will continue to provide repair and upholstery services. All six of its employees will keep their jobs, Mr. Rankin said.
The business recently advertised a “Moving Sale” discount of 25 percent on all “in stock merchandise.”
Most unsold items ultimately will be shipped to the family’s Colonial Beach hardware store, which includes a furniture department, Mr. Rankin said. His family also owns a hardware store in King George County.
In 1992, Mr. Rankin purchased the Waterloo Station shopping center and adjoining property, which includes a structure that houses Fox Den Antiques and the Warrenton Youth Sports Club.
In 2007, he sold the property to Andrea and Amber Ferrero, owners of the shopping center’s Café Torino & Bakery, and other investors for $8 million.
Placing the property on the market three years ago, they want $8.9 million for 4.8 acres and about 47,000 square feet of leasable space.
Mr. Rankin declined to discuss the terms under which he rents the furniture store space.
Mr. Ferrero “understood” the decision to close store, he said. “He said he expected it. He’s been very good.”
“I’m not really concerned” about renting the furniture store space, which has two entrances and could accommodate two businesses, Mr. Ferrero said. “We’ve been speaking to a number of people” about it.
Unlike other shopping centers, his properties have only three retailers other than Rankin’s Furniture — the antique mall, the Grapevine wine shop and Treasure Box Thrift & Consignment, he said.
Other tenants include a Chinese restaurant, dance studio, hair salon, ice cream stand, nail salon and pizzeria.
“We are a service shopping center,” Mr. Ferrero said. “Retail doesn’t apply to us.”
For that reason, he suggested that the internet, for example, has no bearing on the shopping center’s financial viability.
Contact Don Del Rosso at Don@FauquierNow.com or 540-270-0300.
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