EVERETT — In 1963, Behar Furniture opened for business inside a former tire store.
A half-page, black-and-white ad in The Daily Herald invited customers to drop in for coffee and check out the deals. A five-piece bedroom suite and a three-piece sectional sofa were each priced at $199. No money down. Take your pick.
Business was good. In the years that followed, owner Ron Behar expanded the 8,000-square-foot store until it grew to its current size: 40,000 square feet. Today, the building at 2105 Broadway covers one city block. From the warehouse entrance on 22nd street to the north showroom entrance on 21st street, it’s a good quarter mile.
“You can get your steps in working here,” said Jay Behar, the company’s second-generation owner. The store employs six part-time and full-time workers.
After 60 years in business, Behar’s Furniture on Broadway in Everett is closing.
“It just was time for us as a family to move on and explore different things,” Behar said. “Retail has changed.”
A lot has changed since 1963, including furniture-buying.
“People aren’t keeping furniture as long,” Behar said. They’re also buying furniture and bedding online without ever touching it, laying on it or sitting on it.
Formal living rooms are mostly a thing of the past. Today, family rooms prevail. Color preferences have shifted.
“I remember when everything was brown and green,” Behar said. Now, grays and neutrals are popular hues.
The business got its start when Jay’s father Ron Behar emigrated from England to the Seattle area.
“My dad and another gentleman with the last name Behar — they weren’t related — started with a very small store,” Behar said. “They kept adding square-footage.”
The store expanded north from the former tire store to 21st street, in between were several houses and the Ebenezer Methodist Church. Behar purchased them as the store grew. Eventually, he bought the former Tradewell grocery store at the end of the block, and turned it into the company’s main showroom.
There are remnants of the former businesses.
The bay for the tire store’s service lift has been covered up, but it’s still there. The room that was the supermarket’s meat locker, with the drain in the floor, is still visible, though the drain has been plugged. The old meat locker is storage space now.
What’s in store for the enormous family-owned building when it’s finally empty?
“It’s a work in process,” Behar said.
Behar’s stint at the store is the only job he’s ever had.
One of his first memories is visiting his father’s store and “jumping on stacks of mattresses.”
After the visits, came employment.
“I started as a young kid, dusting the furniture,” Behar said. He worked his way up, unloading supply trucks in the warehouse. He still pitches in. Recently, he helped workers unload a tractor-trailer filled with recliners.
“The last of the orders are still showing up,” he said, wrestling with a heavy box.
A few years ago, Behar took over the business from his father, now age 89.
He can still recall some of the furniture styles of the late 1970s and 1980 — floral couches, vinyl davenports, shag rugs and swag lamps.
“I watch the Goldbergs,” he said of the TV sitcom, which airs on ABC. “It’s set in the 1980s, and they have a coffee table in their house I’m confident we used to sell.”
Behar, 50, has no plans to retire.
“I’m remaining in the furniture business,” he said. He plans to continue working with the Pacific Furniture Dealers Buying Group, a collection of independent furniture retailers around the Northwest. “We partner together to buy furniture like a large chain store.”
Behar’s won’t close right away. It could be a few months, depending on sales of remaining merchandise, he said.
Some items aren’t for sale.
Memories are scattered throughout the store — photos of the showroom and generations of employees and customers; the first business license and the first dollar; binders filled with newspaper ads that span the decades.
“I’ll probably create a nice scrapbook from all of this,” he said. “I don’t think I can keep it all.”
Janice Podsada: 425-339-3097; email@example.com;
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