Larrabees furniture store to close after 60 years of business in Colorado

Larrabee’s furniture store, a Colorado staple for about six decades, is closing the doors of the four-generation family business at the end of this year.

Larrabee’s Furniture + Design, whose roots stretch to 1943 in South Dakota and Minnesota, has hired several temporary employees to prepare for a going-out-of-business sale at its showroom at 311 E. County Line Road in Littleton. Co-owners Scott and Carolyn Larrabee, both in their early 70s, said Thursday while the time is right to move forward, it won’t be easy.

“It’s a bittersweet moment for us. We’re looking forward to the next chapter of our lives, but we absolutely love our employees and our customers,” Scott Larrabee said.

“We have nothing but gratitude for all the years that we have been doing this,” Carolyn Larrabee said. “We’ve been so supported. I think the best thing is our staff. We have such a great staff that has helped us from start to finish.”

The Larrabees opened the Littleton showroom in 2013 when they moved into a building where the now-closed Kacey Fine Furniture was. They hired several of Kacey’s former employees.

The Colorado chapter of the Larrabee family business started in Boulder in 1962.

“I started 60 years ago this month, setting up dinette sets for dad and my uncle Cliff,” Scott said.

Scott’s uncle and grandfather, Howard Larrabee, started the furniture business in 1943 in Sioux Falls, S.D., and Ortonville, Minn. Scott joined his uncle and his father, Lee, in the family tradition. He and Carolyn had three different stores in Fort Collins and one in Greeley before opening their store in Littleton.

A fourth generation has helped grow the business. The Larrabees’ daughters, Erin and Heather, and son, Matt, are part of the crew. Erin is the executive vice president of operations and marketing.

Matt, who lives in California, is the e-commerce manager and will be in Colorado this summer to help with operations at the company’s three warehouses. Heather, who has helped with the company’s branding, is steering communications for the business.

“It’s really all hands on deck. That’s how we’ve always operated as a family,” Erin said.

A factor behind closing Larrabee’s now is that the store’s lease is up for renewal.

“We had a big lease in front of us as far as the number of years,” Scott said. “We had to decide if we wanted to sign a lease that would run into our 80s or was this the better time to maybe…”

“Exit,” said Carolyn, supplying the word Scott was looking for.

Larrabee’s, like businesses nationwide, has had to navigate the pandemic’s choppy waters that have included such hazards as supply-chain disruptions and labor shortages. Despite the challenges, Scott said “business has never been better.”

Early on, Larrabee’s built up its inventory to make sure it could weather the storm, Scott said. “When people were out of stock, we had plenty of merchandise.”

Even after closing for nine weeks in 2020 because of COVID-19-related restrictions, Larrabee’s surpassed its 2019 sales because demand was so high, Scott said.

Still, people’s focus on home improvements when other activities were limited did catch up with the business. Erin said manufacturers had backlogs of several months. While the waits are getting shorter, she expects the snarls in the supply chain to take years to work out.

Considering the outlook, this is the right time for her parents to retire, Erin said.

“And then we were always going to be coming up against the new way of consumerism, which is more online shopping,” Erin added. “We do have a website and e-commerce set up, but at our price point, which is middle to high, I just think it’s a harder way to navigate shopping.”

Scott said he’ll miss the business, even with all the changes and challenges. “I love coming to work every day. I really, really do.”

However, Scott and Carolyn agree there’s something even better: spending more time with their three grandchildren.

“I love this furniture business, but it’s nothing compared to being a grandfather,” Scott said.

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