A CLASSY CLOSING 75-YEAR-OLD STORE CALLING IT QUITS.Byline: Brent Brent, outer borough (1991 pop. 226,100) of Greater London, SE England. The area is a rail and industrial center. Its manufactures include automobile parts, clocks and watches, and electrical equipment. Hopkins Hopkins, city (1990 pop. 16,534), Hennepin co., SE Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis; inc. as West Minneapolis 1893, name changed 1928. The city manufactures machinery, computer and electronic parts, steel products, air pollution equipment, ophthalmic lenses, tools, Staff Writer
BURBANK Burbank, city (1990 pop. 93,643), Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1911. Tourism and the entertainment industry are central to its economy; several motion-picture studios and television headquarters are here. Burbank's aerospace industry collapsed with the end of the Cold War. - When Empire Furniture opened its doors, there was a strange new chair known as the upholstered recliner on the market.
When Empire closes for good in a few weeks, 75 years after Maurice Beare sold his first chair, recliners are still in fashion, but there's little else that has stayed the same. In a span of nine decades, which have included drastic swings in consumer tastes and a vastly different economic model, the little shop on Magnolia Magnolia, city, United States
Magnolia (măgnō`lyə), city (1990 pop. 11,151), seat of Columbia co., SW Ark.; inc. 1855. Its oil industry has been important since 1938. Boulevard has stayed remarkably constant.
There have been two owners, Beare and his granddaughter Jennifer Lithgow. As most furniture dealers began shifting their inventory to cheaper foreign imports, Empire stubbornly stub·born
adj. stub·born·er, stub·born·est
a. Unreasonably, often perversely unyielding; bullheaded.
b. Firmly resolved or determined; resolute. See Synonyms at obstinate.
2. sold only American-made goods. If a customer needed a repair at home, the store would send a craftsman to fix it up.
Keeping with that old-school tradition, Lithgow, who took over 17 years ago, is closing down rather than change the way she ran the store. With two young children in school, she elected to walk away rather than sacrifice her professional or personal standards.
``I get home, cook dinner, help with their homework, put the kids to bed, then sit down with the paperwork 'til 1 a.m.,'' she sighed, stretching out on a marked-down sofa. ``The next morning, I start the whole show over again.''
She grew up in the shop, posing like a mannequin in the window as a little kid. After the death of Beare, a South African immigrant who once ran a furniture factory in his native land, Lithgow took it over in her early 20s. But 17 years of 60-hour workweeks took their toll, especially once she had her own family to worry about.
To the customers who bought their first La-Z-Boys there and stocked their living rooms with its plush couches, Empire's departure has stirred up strong emotions. When Lithgow first put up her going-out-of-business signs, longtime long·time
Having existed or persisted for a long time: a longtime friend; a longtime resident of Detroit.
Adjective shoppers lined up outside, banging on the windows, demanding to know why she was shutting down.
She considered selling, considered hiring extra staff, but nothing satisfied her. The sentimental sen·ti·men·tal
a. Characterized or swayed by sentiment.
b. Affectedly or extravagantly emotional.
2. Resulting from or colored by emotion rather than reason or realism.
3. attachment proved to be too strong, so she decided to get out of the business altogether. The sale ran hotter than she expected, hastening the closing date to mid-January.
``That was the kind of place that Burbank was famous for before all the chains came,'' said Mike Nolan
1. Forceful, often vindictive anger. See Synonyms at anger.
a. Punishment or vengeance as a manifestation of anger.
b. Divine retribution for sin.
adj. of my father.''
After hearing the sun was setting on Empire, Sharon Wood Sharon Adele Wood (born May 18, 1957) is a Canadian mountaineer. On May 20, 1986, at 9:00 pm, accompanied by Dwayne Congdon, she became the first North American woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest. , a 30-year customer, went over to buy a mattress. Her attachment to the store was so strong, the Glendale resident returned with a new bedroom set and two sofas in tow.
``It's another landmark going away, like so many things,'' Wood said. ``You felt like it was a family in there and you just don't get that anywhere else anymore. It's just so sad.''
Brent Hopkins, (818) 713-3738
(1 -- color) Jennifer Lithgow, who has run Empire Furniture in Burbank for 17 years, says she is closing the 75-year-old store in a few weeks rather than sacrifice her professional or personal standards.
(2 -- color) After 75 years of doing business in Burbank, Empire Furniture is liquidating its stock and will shut down.
Gus Ruelas/Staff Photographer