Phil Gustafson easily recalls the heady days of the early 1990s when it seemed residential developers were opening subdivisions in Sylvania, Sylvania Township, and Perrysburg nearly every week.
“Everyone was building new homes, big homes,” he said.
It was an exciting and a busy time for Mr. Gustafson and his Bedland Mattress and Furniture store at 2544 N. Reynolds Rd. in Toledo, which was selling a lot of high-quality furniture to owners of all those new homes.
But times have changed.
Many consumers now use their precious, limited money on home items other than higher-quality furniture. And area competition at the lower-end price range has risen dramatically.
As a result, after 51 years in business, Bedland will close its doors most likely by year’s end, and its owners, Mr. Gustafson and Arthur “Mitch” Veller, will go into retirement.
“We should be out of here soon. Our lease is up at the end of January,” Mr. Gustafson said. The building has been sold to a private investor who plans to modify it for other uses.
“I think he’s hoping that with the hospital up the street this will become a place for blood testing and medical labs and such,” Mr. Gustafson said, referring to ProMedica’s Wildwood Orthopaedic and Spine Hospital.
Meanwhile, the store is in the midst of a liquidation sale with items marked up to 80 percent off.
Mr. Gustafson, 73, said the decision to close was made two years ago when he could see that the market had changed.
“We were a middle-and-up store with quality merchandise,” he said. “I decided to close long before Art Van came here,” he said, referring to the Michigan-based chain that opened a superstore in Springfield Township earlier this year.
In the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, customers would spend $5,000 to $6,000 on a dining room set if they knew they were getting quality furniture that would last for decades, Mr. Gustafson said. “That’s not the case today,” he added.
Consumers are more content to buy lower-priced furniture that may wear out after a few years, discard it, then replace it with lower-priced goods again. The change has taken a toll not just on Bedland but other independent furniture dealers.
Few are left, Mr. Gustafson lamented. Samsen’s Furniture in Genoa and Perrysburg remains, as does Heritage House in Ottawa Lake, Comstock Furniture on Monroe Street, and Shea’s Furniture on Alexis Road. But, he said, “It’s been tough on the independents.”
Bedland opened in Toledo in 1962, and Mr. Gustafson began there as a part-time salesman in 1972. He bought the company in 1975 and three years later bought its building.
It began mostly with bedroom furniture, but Mr. Gustafson wanted to expand, and in 1990 it added 6,000 square feet to carry upholstery, dining room furniture, occasional tables, and curios. In 2010 a corporation was formed to include Mr. Veller, and the company was renamed the Bedland Mattress and Furniture Outlet.
Once the doors close, Mr. Veller and Mr. Gustafson plan to stay retired. “Mitch does a lot of computing at his home,” Mr. Gustafson said.
As for himself, Mr. Gustafson said he has bought 150 acres in Morenci, Mich. “I like to garden,” he said.
Mr. Gustafson plans to turn part of his land into a wildlife and nature preserve and enjoy life away from the sales floor.
“There’s things I couldn’t do and didn’t have the time to do ... because of store hours,” he said.
“It was really an accident in how I got here. I started part time, and three years later, I bought the business,” Mr. Gustafson said. “But I really enjoyed it.”
Contact Jon Chavez at: email@example.com or 419-724-6128.