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Westminster furniture store to close after just four years Too much space was a factor CENTRAL -- Union Mills * Westminster * Sandymount * Finksburg


After four years on the corner of the Westminster shopping center, Furniture Station is closing its doors forever.

"Unfortunately, there hasn't been enough business to maintain the rent, lights and payroll and for the investors to realize anything," said Harvey Zalis, manager of the 22,000-square-foot store.

"You can only gargle for so long until you start to take in water."

But despite a week of slashed prices at its "Going Out of Business" sale, the basement-level showroom is still relatively empty of shoppers.

"There's been traffic, people are curious," Mr. Zalis said. "But as you can see, people aren't busting out the doors and walls.

"Once word gets around, more and more people will come to see what's available."

Management plans to vacate the building by Dec. 1, he said.

Everything has to be sold," Mr. Zalis said. "There's no place to store it otherwise. I guess when it gets down to slim pickings, we'll start making offers.

"But then the customer who might get the best value won't get the best selection."

The business, which originally covered both floors of the former Leggett department store, was opened in 1988 by several investors from Reisterstown, he said.

"They saw a need for a medium-priced furniture store in this area," he said. "Since then, we've seen a rush of stores open and close."

The store closed its upper level in 1990, reducing the 40,000 square feet to its current size.

But Mr. Zalis adds that competition is not what hurt the store's success.

"Anybody who sells anything is competition," he said. "There's only so much disposable income and only so many people to dispense it.

"[Other furniture stores] were more of a help to us."

For example, the Hub furniture store across Englar Road from Furniture Station is a large national chain with more money to advertise.

The Hub's ads would keep commuters in Carroll to shop and might attract customers across the road to the smaller store, he said.

"This is still a bedroom community, and it's often easier for people to shop where they are," Mr. Zalis said. "They made people aware that there was a reason to shop in their own back yard."

In fact, the manager says, the store's large size is more to blame for its failure than the competition.

"If I could find other investors and another location, I would stay in business here," Mr. Zalis said. "All you really need is 10,000 square feet.

"Otherwise, you have a big nut."

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