WILKES-BARRE TWP. – After more than a century in business, the family-owned Kaplan's Furniture store on Mundy Street is closing its doors this year.
Third-generation owner David Mayers, whose wife is the granddaughter of company founder Abe Kaplan, said the time had come. He said he is turning 62 in April and he wanted to retire and spend more time with grandchildren and walking his dog.
While he said the economy hasn't been the best in recent years, he said sales were still good but profit margins were shrinking.
Every year real estate taxes go up, insurance rates go up, and we can't raise prices because it's too competitive, said Mayers, of South Wilkes-Barre. Our margins keep shrinking. So he made the decision to get out of the business.
It's a situation that has played out recently throughout the family-owned furniture landscape in Luzerne County.
Bartuska's Furniture in Nanticoke went out of business last year after nearly eight decades of operation. Kurlancheek Furniture closed in 1998 only to reopen in 2005. Others keep chugging along such as Max L. Fainberg & Son and Bednarski Furniture, both in Plymouth, Noble Furniture in Nanticoke and Bell Home Furnishings in downtown Wilkes-Barre.
Mayers said his children were not interested in the family business. His wife's sister, Pamela Dixon, with whom he is a partner in the ownership of the store, has children who are too young. Dixon and Mayers purchased the store from second-generation owner Irv Kaufer in the early 1990s.
Selling the 22,000-square-foot store wasn't on the table, and Mayers said he hasn't decided what will become of it. It's the place Kaplan's has called home since moving from East Market Street in Wilkes-Barre in 1975.
While closing the business, which he expects to do in March, will come with some regrets and sadness, he said the thing he'll miss most are his eight employees and the longtime customers whose families have been furnishing their homes with Kaplan's-sold goods for generations.
I'm going to miss them, they're like family to me, Mayers said.