HIGH POINT — News that Lane closed suddenly this week has sent shockwaves through the home furnishings industry. Retailers who carry the brand are trying to figure out how to wind down their assortments on the floor and other considerations.
Will Harris, Darvin Furniture & Mattress
“They were a reliable partner for Darvin. That makes it even more of a shock,” said Will Harris, president of Top 100 Darvin Furniture & Mattress. “It’s somewhat of an important line for us. It’s one of a number of important lines for Darvin. Hopefully this isn’t a harbinger of things to come.”
Harris said while it’s tough to say goodbye to a venerated brand like Lane, Darvin will be able to pivot. But it still stings.
“We don’t have major exposure, but there are important vignettes and SKUs we do really well with from Lane,” he said. “We’ll have to start the process of closing those out.”
Kyle Johansen, executive director of merchandising for Top 100 retailer HOM Furniture, said the Coon Rapids, Minn.-based retailer isn’t overly exposed by the closure, but interestingly had containers from Lane scheduled to arrive this week.
Kyle Johansen, HOM Furniture
“It’s always sad to see American companies go under especially iconic brands such as Lane. More importantly it’s a massive loss of jobs for people we have worked with and partnered with over the years,” Johansen said. “I hope someone out there is able to pick up the pieces and salvage at least a portion of the business.”
Top 100 retailer Gallery Furniture had been a Lane dealer for years but dropped the line a couple of years ago, according to owner Jim McIngvale.
Jim McIngvale, Gallery Furniture
McIngvale was quick to offer his thoughts on what led to the company’s downfall. “Another great American brand bites the dust thanks to offshoring. Thanks, offshoring, for ruining this country,” he said.
Marc Schewel, president and CEO of Top 100 retailer Schewels Home, said it was a sad day for the industry to see the legacy brand drop out.
“It’s unfortunate when any business in our industry closes down. It’s a great loss to employees and consumers, customers and suppliers,” he said. “Lane, United, always gave us tremendous value for our customers.”
Marc Schewel, Schewels Home
Schewel wondered if the trend toward canceling orders during the worst of the supply chain crisis might have played a role in the company’s downfall.
“United, during the pandemic, when there were shortages and you had a hard time getting merchandise, they were loyal to a number of their bigger retailers,” Schewel said. “These are the same people who turned around 6-8 months ago and canceled huge orders, leaving the company (Lane) with warehouses full of imported kits and made furniture.”
Jake Jabs, CEO of Top 100 American Furniture Warehouse, said the news caught him by surprise when he found out Tuesday morning. He said the suddenness was particularly troubling.
Jake Jabs, American Furniture Warehouse
“That’s what bothers you. I think we can all understand people losing money in this day and age, but to me, they should have been doing things more gradually and honestly,” Jabs said. “We can all understand honesty, but to come out of the blue and close the factories and lay off all those people, it’s a black eye on the furniture industry.”
Jabs said for years, AFW was Lane’s largest dealer and the relationship had been in place for decades, but he said cracks have been showing for a little while. “We had some inklings that things were going downhill. At the last High Point Market, I told my buyers don’t buy any Lane because we heard that they weren’t paying their bills. I didn’t think it was so bad where they were closing all their facilities overnight,” he said.
Jabs said he expects the process to end in a bankruptcy one way or another, which, he said, spreads the misfortune.
“When it comes to bankruptcy, everybody loses. The people that own these plants should be responsible for their own actions,” Jabs said. “We’ve got people who have been waiting on sleepers from Lane for months. That’s what’s sad about this; they just leave everybody out in the cold.”
But while Lane is gone, Jabs said he doesn’t think it’s a symptom of a larger, industrywide problem.
“I think it’s a one-off. I personally buy from 50 factories and as a company, we buy from 200. We have a good perspective of what’s going on in the industry,” Jabs said.
Thomas Lester is Retail Editor for Furniture Today and Digital/Managing Editor for Home Accents Today. A graduate of Emory & Henry College’s Mass Communications program, Lester spent a dozen years working for newspapers in Virginia and North Carolina covering an array of subjects, ranging from community news, government, education, ACC sports, professional baseball and more before joining Furniture Today in 2013. Reach out to me with your story ideas, tips and more at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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