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New Wynnewood Furniture Outlet to Assume Higher Profile

The new occupant of the former Borders still has customers coming in seeking bestsellers.

Inside the in the Wynnewood Shopping Center, there are still lots and lots of bookshelves. Many of the old, blond, floor-to-ceiling shelves remain from the Borders days—along with other remnants of the store's retail infrastructure the liquidators could not unload.

But there are also new bookshelves for sale, and antiques (though no books) standing upright on the floor, next to beds, ottomans, recliners, dining room sets, kitchen tables, lamps, and pretty much any other kind of furniture you might need.

is settling in, its managers say, after having to . (A gallery of most of the store’s current stock can be seen here.)

“It’s picking up a little bit, though it’s right after the holidays, and everybody’s broke after the holidays,” said Joan Koehler, the Wynnewood store’s manager, as she polished a handsome wet bar. “But it’ll start picking up with tax season, and then the summer ... and then the more we start to advertise.”

The merchandise right now is 80 percent new and about 20 percent consignment, but the goal is to get to 50-50 sometime in the coming months.

“Our brand new furniture is discounted 30 to 50 percent off, everyday,” said Norm Levin, who grew up with owner and operator Barney Daley, and is his best friend. “And the consignment furniture is high quality.”

A stroll through both floors of the big store (“Take as many pictures as you want,” Levin encouraged) seemed to bear that out—good-looking stuff with a mostly restrained, almost Main Line aesthetic, with surprising prices: affordable, one might say.

That affordability comes with a caveat. Levin said all merchandise is sold as marked—there is absolutely no haggling at a Barney Daley store.

He meant it. Eyeing a nice Mission-style leather chair, I offered to buy it only slightly below the list price. No go, Levin said, especially since it was new. He wouldn’t sell me the floor model, either, saying that meant the absence of the chair on the showroom floor for a week or so.

Koehler, who works with Daley at the company’s main warehouse most days (she’s in Wynnewood on Tuesdays and Saturdays), said advertising is due to begin by the spring. By late summer, they’d like to be well-known enough, and have a good enough reputation for deals, to attract the many college students (and their parents) at St. Joseph’s University, Villanova and the other schools that dot the Main Line.

Even without advertising, foot traffic through the store was decent during the holidays, Koehler said—but many people mistakenly stumbled in expecting to pick up a couple of books and maybe a CD or DVD.

“You wouldn’t believe how many people came in saying, ‘What happened? Where’s Borders?’,” Koehler said with a laugh, recalling how several people actually got angry with her.

“Hey, I can’t help it if they went bankrupt,” she quipped.

In the meantime, if she and Daley were to consider a sideline in used books, they’ve got the shelves, the perfect location, and to do just that.

 

Bob Guzzardi January 12, 2012 at 12:15 PM
interesting to see free market in action
annonymous January 12, 2012 at 01:38 PM
As a resident of the neighborhood, I am actually quiet offended by the comments made by the store manager, Joan Koehler. Wynnewood and the surrounding areas are populated predominately by financially secure families and would never tolerate being called "broke". How dare she make that kind of a generalized statement. I am not sure that I would have been so offended if she wasn't also quoted as saying (regarding Borders Bookstore), "I can't help it if they went bankrupt". In our country's economic struggles to then capitolize on another business's misfortune is just rude and disrespectful. I can only take my furniture business somewhere else.
Bob Guzzardi January 12, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Contrary to your isolated and insulated sensibility, there are many in Lower Merion who are experiencing in personal ways the economic downturn and loss of jobs. Not everyone is, or wants to be a teacher or tenured professor at a government subsidized school or "nonprofit' university. Bankruptcy of nonprofitable business creates opportunities for others. The new store offers good product at a price many can afford. Not everyone in Lower Merion is a financially secure, elitist snob.
db January 13, 2012 at 05:30 PM
@Anonymous - What a silly thing to be offended by! The store manager's comment was only noting that many people tighten their belts after the holidays, not calling you *gasp* "poor!" She was not even referring directly to the surrounding neighborhood. Even if she was saying you are broke, why do you care? A business capitalizing on another business's failure is capitalism; you'll notice both words have the same root. It is not rude and disrespectful for a business to move into an empty place of business. Would you rather have that huge empty storefront looming over your neighborhood, making it look like you and your neighbors are broke? What length of time should it remain empty that would show enough respect to Borders?
Bob Guzzardi January 13, 2012 at 05:38 PM
It is not dishonorable to be "poor" and how poor are the poor of Lower Merion? The way you spend your dollar is a vote for the most democratic free market where every dollar is a vote. Offering a product at an affordable price is a social good even if that were not the intention. Free Markets for Free People creating and producing goods and services at an affordable price. Borders Failed, let us hope its replacement succeeds.
David Tarsia January 14, 2012 at 01:49 PM
annonymous obviously doesn't have a TV set to watch the news and see the effects of our down economy , the good news , when reality hits and they realize they are not imune , they can take their furniture for pocket cash, they do consignment.
mueslimix February 18, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Dear anonymous, As a resident of the neighborhood, I am actually quite offended that you have nominated yourself as a spokesperson for families of Wynnewood and the surrounding area. Perhaps it would do you some good to get out of the neighborhood once in a while, turn on your TV set and watch the news, and/or read a newspaper. Clearly, you live in a self-centered bubble of social and economic delusion. You mention that the area is populated "predominantly by financially secure families". The key word there is "predominantly". In using this word, you yourself are acknowledging that not everyone is financially secure. Do these people who might be struggling financially not matter? Should there voices go unheard? Should they not have access to the same shops you do? In terms of these "financially secure families" of whom you speak never tolerating "being called 'broke'", are you inciting a rebellion of the wealthy against "the poors"? Get a grip with reality and stop reifying negative stereotypes of the Main Line as a bunch of rich snobs. -Your Neighbor
Bob Guzzardi February 18, 2012 at 06:59 PM
"self-centered bubble of social and economic delusion" is an accurate description of so many of the Main Line snobs I encounter. well said Bob Guzzardi Ardmore
Carla Zambelli February 19, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Just read the comments to this article now. Anonymous needs to check out the local food banks - up and down the Main Line and including in Narberth. For what it is worth, I don't know anyone who doesn't appreciate a good deal which is why furniture outlets like The Dump are so popular. Anonymous, there are a lot of not so financially secure even on the Main Line. Face it we are in a recession that is bordering on a depression. At least the store space is not empty, even if some don't find it desirable.

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