Akst: A bittersweet farewell
Volume and worth of furniture purchased in area since moving here: lots; thousands.
Volume and worth of furniture purchased at Small’s Furniture City: none; $0.
So, I’m remorseful that Small’s is closing after 30 years.
I’m fond of Small’s. Each time my wife and I were looking for something, we always checked Small’s. The merchandise was quality; the staff was helpful.
Also, I worked at a furniture store in my youth, and those were good times. That was 1,200 miles away and decades ago, but Small’s reminds me of that place, so I like going there.
Why no purchases at Small’s? Because furniture selection is emotional. Everybody has different tastes, but it wasn’t like we weren’t satisfied with Small’s. We liked them fine. We just didn’t find exactly the thing we wanted at exactly the moment we wanted it.
Thus reads the crushing narrative of a life in sales: The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
I’m not surprised Small’s is closing. Because I like furniture stores and am obligated to pay attention to the economy, I know the economic crisis has blighted the furniture industry worse than many others. Entire chains of manufacturers and stores have gone belly-up.
I salute Small’s for how long they toughed it out.
The Daily Chronicle reported this week that owner Kirk Small concluded the economy wasn’t recovering fast enough and that the value of the property on Sycamore Road was promising. Even a casual glance at Small’s location would indicate that few properties in the community are worth more right now.
“The store has worked with a commercial real estate agent and the property is under contract with a national restaurant chain,” the Daily Chronicle reported.
This will probably generate negative comments from the five people who write about everything (subtle hint to thousands of other Daily Chronicle readers), but here goes:
People, having a Chili’s, Olive Garden, Five Guys, P.F. Chang’s … whatever … is not what this community really needs. Further, if we were to land one of those chains, a better place would be near Northern Illinois University, not along Sycamore Road.
Although we would patronize any/all of the brands above, I’m particularly bitter about Olive Garden because DeKalb and Sycamore each had fantastic, local Italian restaurants, and residents were unwilling to patronize them (enough).
I told somebody that a recent poll showed that residents want a Chili’s or Olive Garden.
“Great,” she said. “We can be exactly like everyone else.”
Sure, restaurants create jobs (with menial pay, weak benefits, strong injury potential and high turnover), but as Matt Duffy, executive director of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, correctly notes, it’s sad when locally owned/operated business close, and there aren’t many furniture stores left.
Here are two things I’d like to see where Small’s is now:
A revamped, remodeled Small’s Furniture City, with the revamping paid for by a grant, incentive, abatement – something – which municipalities are so eager to shower upon rich corporations.
Something INDOORS for kids to do. As I write this, my wife and son are at “Jump Zone” in St. Charles. We have spent hundreds of dollars at Jump Zone and often meet other DeKalb/Sycamore families (who are also spending hundreds of dollars) there. We all ask the same thing: Why can’t we have something like this?
How many burger places do we really need?
• Jason Akst teaches journalism and public relations at Northern Illinois University. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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