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Klingman's And Israels Designs For Living To Liquidate

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The "Grand Rapids Press" reported that Klingman's founded in 1896 was told by Fifth Third Bank that they "would be taking over Klingman's and Israels Designs for Living and holding going-out-of-business sales." The article quoted the bank's statement, "After a combined 171 years in the furniture business, Israels Designs For Living and Klingman's will wind down their operations over the next several months. The Israels' family, who owns both stores, announced the closing, attributing it to the challenges posed by the economy. The company and its secured lender will work together over the next several months to sell the inventory and effectuate an orderly conclusion to the business."

The full article can be found at http://bit.ly/9sPuq3

Klingman's was one of the iconic retailers recently featured in FURNITURE WORLD's 140 year anniversary issue, the text of which can be found below.

Klingman’s -1896

It was getting close to the turn of the century. In 1896, Grand Rapids was becoming famous as the Furniture Capital of the World. The Klingman family saw opportunity as the whole of downtown Grand Rapids was being developed into buildings for showrooms. Present owner Bob Israel said, “At the top of Klingman’s game, it had a 600,000 square foot building. There were 300,000 square feet of showrooms on five floors, and warehousing as well.”

Like many retail operations, Klingman’s history fluctuated with the rise and fall of economic times. “It seemed to run in ‘nines’”, Bob told us. “1919 and 1929 were difficult. Then around 1936, they created Klingman’s Sample Showroom where they liquidated samples from the Furniture Market. 1939 was most trying. Many of the factories in Grand Rapids were manufacturing airplane and PT boat parts. The era of no furniture purchases caused Klingman’s to go into a receivership situation.

“It was during this period that the Klingman family sold their interest to Chris Vandenberg and his two sons, Jay and Bill who brought the Sample Showroom to a new building. Well trained in the furniture business, they developed a network of customers including all GM and Ford employees with specialized discounts. During the ‘50s and ‘60s, they developed Klingman’s into a very strong organization, although it was during this time that the exodus occurred from downtown to malls.

“In the early ‘70s, they sold Klingman’s to the Joshua Door Company. When the owner, Harold Victor, passed away in the early 2000s, Harold’s son Jonathon ran the business for a couple of years. And then Designs for Living bought Klingman’s.
“Israels Company, a Designs For Living Corporation, was started in 1977 as a retail company for furniture. At the time of purchase, Klingman’s was moved to a 390,000 square foot showroom, and a new warehousing operation of 290,000 square feet racked.

“Now known as ‘Klingman’s, A Designs For Living Company’, the business itself is 38 per cent ahead of projected sales. The overall plan is to grow it by five and one-quarter per cent every year and to consistently take on more market share.

“We have consistently built on the old customers; it isn’t something we take lightly. We try to take care of each customer personally. We offer special things for each customer individually, whether it be rewards or product to use until their ordered product comes in. The most challenging thing, particularly with better quality furniture, is to continue to move forward, taking care of our customers and communicating with them.

“The success of our business really relates back to the company policy that I wrote for all of our companies, the mission statement, on my belief in God, the wisdom of the Bible and the free enterprise of the United States.”


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