Home sales boost furniture retailers
Stephanie Angold still has sharp memories of the housing boom in 2006 and 2007 — “It was people backing up trucks to the store all day long,” she says — and the furniture retailer in Reno says the business is beginning to bounce back.
But this time is different, says the owner of The Find, a furniture retailer tucked away in an industrial neighborhood at 4865 Longley Lane.
While the store’s sales during the boom years were driven in large part by folks who viewed a house as an investment to flip quickly, Angold says today’s buyers are settling in to establish comfortable homes for themselves.
The combination of consumers who want to upgrade and the recovery of home sales is fueling solid growth for furniture retailers throughout the region.
Taxable sales at home furnishings stores in Washoe County and Carson City have been running 12 to 15 percent above year-earlier figures in recent months, says the Nevada Department of Taxation.
Real estate sales play a big role, as homebuyers buy a new couch or bedroom set after they close on the purchase of a house. The number of existing home sales in the Reno-Sparks market in the February was the fourth-highest recorded during the month of February in the past 14 years, the Reno-Sparks Association of Realtors says, and new-home sales are further fueling retail furniture sales.
First-quarter sales at The Furniture Depot on Eureka Avenue in Reno have been outstanding, says Manager Steve Balestrini, helped along by a boost in household income from federal tax returns. However, the store’s spike in revenue is somewhat tempered by a dismal fourth quarter in 2013. Sales tanked near the end of the year, Balestrini says, due to uncertainty surrounding the potential impacts of the Affordable Care Act.
“I’ve been here 15 years, and when news started spreading across nation people were hesitating on buying,” Balestrini says.
The Furniture Depot also has seen a big boost in business from retirees moving to the area from California.
“They are very good customers,” Balestrini says. “We are seeing sales from a lot of senior citizens.”
Eric Reid, owner of American Furniture & Mattress Store on Prater Way, expects the uptick in new homes sales and the brisk activity in the resale market to have a direct impact on furniture retailers for quite some time.
“I think that it will be something that will continue over the years, not just this year,” he says. “I probably will see a 5 to 10 percent increase each year.”
Reid took over ownership of American Furniture & Mattress Store on Sept. 1 of last year and increased the store’s selection to attract new business. Customers most often seek new bedroom sets, he says, followed by sectionals, sofas and loveseats.
Josephine Reitmayer, owner of Reno Tahoe Rustic, knows all about working through periods of slow sales — she opened her store on Kietzke Lane on June 1 of 2012. Reitmayer has seen an surge in sales that began about eight or nine months ago.
The biggest positive at Reno Tahoe Rustic, however, has been the increase in volume of sales from customers purchasing entire home sets to furnish new homes rather than just buying a piece or two of furniture, Reitmayer says.
Although large box trucks stuffed with new furniture from the region’s large chain retailers are as commonplace in new residential neighborhoods as pickup trucks from Reno-Sparks plumbing and electrical contractors, smaller furniture retailers still remain cautious. Angold isn’t letting the return of good times go to her head after weathering the recession for much of the nine years that The Find has been open.
The Find continues to be open only three days a week — Thursday, Fridays and Saturday — and Angold pinches pennies on everything from advertising to janitorial services.
“I pride myself on running on a shoestring,” she says.
On April 1, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak formally issued a “Stay at Home” directive for Nevadans and extended closures of nonessential businesses, gambling and school closures to April 30.