Reliable Home Furnishings in Hagerstown closes after 64 years

July 18, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- Sixty-four years of business ended last month when Reliable Home Furnishings in Hagerstown shut down.

President Eric Rosenthal said Thursday that the decision to close suddenly and file for bankruptcy was difficult and prompted by a few factors.

A distressed economy, with high prices for gas and groceries, is cutting into furniture sales.

Rosenthal said he and his wife planned to keep the family-run store going by buying other relatives' shares, but the plan broke down.

"At the last minute, everything changed," he said.

The store on Dual Highway closed June 30, leaving its 12 employees without work.

Rosenthal said it probably will reopen briefly for a going-out-of-business sale in a few weeks.

He said the owners are getting a bank loan to repay people who put down deposits for merchandise.

"Our goal is to take care of all of our customers," he said.

Rosenthal's grandfather, Herbert Brener, started the furniture company in 1944 in Martinsburg, W.Va. He later added a branch on Franklin Street in Hagerstown.


Brener purchased 1308 Dual Highway in the early 1960s and moved the business there, closing the other two shops, Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal's father and mother took over the business in the 1970s.

Rosenthal and his brother, Eric, were part of the third generation of the family to run Reliable Home Furnishings.

Rosenthal, who will turn 44 next week, said he dropped out of the University of Maryland at College Park in 1984, his junior year, to help with the business when his father had cancer.

In 1995, the company bought 1310 Dual Highway, leading to a $1 million renovation and expansion four years later.

Rosenthal said Reliable Home Furnishings had about 14,000 square feet of sales space, plus a warehouse.

"I think it's going to be a loss to the community," he said. "We had a great product."

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