A steady stream of people looking for bargains drifted through the maze of red-tagged leather sofas, glass coffee tables and miscellaneous home decor items Wednesday at Hedman Furniture in Grass Valley.
Sweaty delivery boys rushed in and out of the store while well-dressed women assisted customers and answered phones that would not stop ringing.
It was the final day and the end of an era for the family owned store after 50 years of doing business on Mill Street. The store closed its doors for good at 6 p.m.
“The lion’s share will be gone,” said manager Matt Peterson, the son of co-owners Bill and Chellie Peterson.
If there is significant merchandise left over, Peterson said, it will be sold with office furniture at an auction at the building in about two weeks.
The last day was mild in comparison to the frenzy of last weekend, when lines of people snaked onto the sidewalk and swarms of up to 200 people shopped in the store at a time.
Hedman has been liquidating merchandise since the Peterson family announced the store’s closing in November 2006. Bill and Chellie Peterson have owned the store with their family for 35 years.
Heidi Mol was hunting for a bargain on Wednesday, saying she felt obligated to come.
“It’s a shame that they are leaving. It seems like a lot of small businesses are going, so when the big ones go, it’s kind of sad,” Mol said.
Despite the busy last days, deliveries never stopped and will continue until April 7, Peterson said. Trucks and other assets still need to be sold, and Peterson plans on working full time for another month.
Several investors have shown interest in the two Mill Street buildings selling for $3,999,000, said Lachlan Richards of Sperry Van Ness Highland Commercial, who is managing the property. That’s a price reduction from $4.5 million originally asked.
Richards said the Petersons may consider leasing the building to large retailers if the buildings don’t sell. So far, one large retailer, several smaller local retailers and one theater group have shown interest in the buildings. Richards said it is unlikely that another furniture store will move in.
The store will be open for a couple more days only for people coming to retrieve their already purchased merchandise. The phones will be turned off on Friday.
The last day of business also offered the hope of a new start.
At noon, Chellie Peterson was on her way to the hospital to be with her daughter, Lori Sams, who was in labor with her first child – a baby girl who was to be named Michelle, after her grandmother.
“It’s sort of bittersweet,” Matt Peterson said. “The child’s birthday will always be on the last day of the store.”
Thirty employees will be affected by the store closure, but Matt Peterson said most of them have found work elsewhere.
Matt Peterson looked relieved and happy on the store’s last day as he took a break on a sold leather sofa waiting for delivery. He is finishing up a business degree at California State University, Sacramento, and plans to move to Africa for a year with his family on a good-will mission after graduation.
Hedman Furniture Inc. has been a part of Matt Peterson’s life since he was a boy. He recalled putting drawer handles on furniture when he was a student at Hennessy School.
During the final days of his family’s business, Peterson said, his mind has been on making sure everything is in order.
The finality hasn’t hit him yet, he said, but he is expecting it in a couple of days when everything is quiet and the furniture and customers are gone.
“That’s when it’s going to be clear,” Matt Peterson said.
To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail laurab@theunion .com or call 477-4231.
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