Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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July 11, 2013

Morgans closing West Side Furniture

GOSHEN — A retail landmark in West Goshen will close as soon as the remaining inventory is sold.

Rose Ann and Mick Morgan, owners of Westside Furniture, are in the process of a closing sale and will move on to another family-owned business of distributing furniture.

The 30,000-square-foot store sits at the corner of Denver Street and Lincoln Avenue. Rose Ann’s family became involved in the business in 1958. That’s when Rose Ann’s father and mother, John and Cleo McDonald, took over the business from Fern Landon, who her father was working for. The store was much smaller then and featured appliances and appliance service, carpeting and furniture. Appliances were dropped after a short time and the store stopped selling carpeting in 1982 when the Elkhart River flooded and destroyed their carpet inventory.

Rose Ann began working at the store in 1964 and has been in charge of the accounting. In 1982, the same year as the flood, Rose Ann and Mick purchased the business from her parents. Their son John began working in the store in 1986, at the age of 13.

“That was just when I was put on the payroll,” John joked about his unpaid time working at the family business before that.

Mick recalled how during the early years of the store there wasn’t much development along Lincoln Avenue. He remembered how a dump was located across Lincoln Avenue, where Linway Plaza is now. But over the years both sides of Lincoln has filled with businesses.

Growing along with their neighbors, West Side Furniture grew in increments as the years passed and developed into the large store it is today. The Morgans have been known for keeping the building in tip-top shape, inside and out.

In recent years the display area has shrunk to just 8,000-square feet, according to Mick, as the family adjusted to the economic downturn and the changing buying habits of the public.

The store had a history of selling fine furnishings that can be found in homes all across Goshen and Elkhart County. But the public has changed its buying habits in recent years, according to the family.

“Demand of the market has been refocused to expendable items,” John said. “What our store history was based on, and is based on, necessarily did not fit into that market demand,” John said.

Mick said he believes the market for fine, domestic-made furnishings will return in the coming years.

“American hands are still the best hands in the furniture business by far,” he said.

The changes in the market, combined with Mick and Rose Ann’s ages, were factors in the decision to close the store, according to Rose Ann.

“It feels like the right time to retire,” Rose Ann said. “John was going to take it over but he has taken the business in another avenue for things that we do and he is not interested in the retail end of it. So we just decided to end it.”

 The inventory that is left is marked 60 percent off and customers have been cleaning it out since the closing ads were published.

“It’s going fast,” Mick said.

John estimated that they only had a third of their inventory left as of Wednesday.

As he sat in the emptying showroom, Mick considered the future.

“It’s going to seem odd to have an empty corner,” he said.

But, the Morgans will soon be marketing the building and Mick is hopeful it will remain a retail store of some sort.

Their personal futures will be busy, but less so than being in the retail trade six days a week. Rose Ann and Mick will move on and work with John in the wholesale end, but will not be putting in the hours they do at the store.

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