It’s been a little more than a month since Raymond Rowe Furniture on Broadway in downtown Columbus began its going-out-of-business sale after serving area residents for nearly three-quarters of a century.
“It’s just very bittersweet,” Randall Rowe, vice president of Raymond Rowe furniture and the great-grandchild of founder Raymond Alexander Rowe, said just before the liquidation began Feb. 10. “It’s just time for us. We’ve been around as long as we have because we’ve had a very loyal customer base. It’s been a blessing, and the furniture store has been good to a lot of people.”
Rowe specifically said the proliferation of chain stores with their deeper corporate pockets have put financial pressure on Raymond Rowe Furniture, which dates to 1943 when his great-grandfather launched a store at the corner of 11th Street and Front Avenue, after operating out of a truck. The founder and subsequent generations took the business to a higher level and made it a household name in Columbus and the surrounding area. It attracted a devoted following.
“I remember my mom buying a giant console TV there in the late ’70s,” said reader Dorothy Lowry in a post on the original Ledger-Enquirer story letting the public know of Raymond Rowe’s fate. “It was the first TV I'd ever seen that didn't have a knob (buttons instead). I thought it was the most elegant thing ever created. You know, I might just still think that.”
But now, of course, the end is near, as the brightly colored banners and signs plastered on the front windows at the 1225 Broadway store will attest. “Going out of business forever!” they scream to attract attention from shoppers who are passing by, hoping they’ll stop in to look for a good buy from a business in its death throes.
But it also would be foolish to think that only mom-and-pop and independent retailers and restaurants and other types of establishments are at the mercy of consumers and the passage of time in general. Very large retail chains such as Montgomery Ward, Circuit City and Service Merchandise know that all too well, as does Sears, one of the most iconic retailers in U.S. history.
Sears, which entered pop culture to a certain extent with its annual holiday “Wish Book” catalog, is closing its doors at Columbus Park Crossing, with deal-seeking vultures now picking the bones clean. It is among 150 Sears and Kmart stores being shuttered by the two retail chain’s financially decaying holding company.
Of course, Kmart, the precursor to Walmart’s emergence as a merchandise powerhouse, is also a potential trivia question once known for its “blue light specials,” which lured shoppers to a hot deal within a certain spot in the store using, yes, a blue flashing light.
Thus, we’ve established that no business large or small, local or independent, has a guaranteed grip on living, thriving or dying. And now, with yet another local icon in Raymond Rowe vanishing into the history books, it appears to be a good time to take a stroll of sorts down memory lane.
We’ll do that with the assistance of an online community blog of sorts titled, “Do You Remember ...,” which invites contributions from readers recalling interesting retailers, restaurants, events, people, attractions and places in Columbus that they grew up around, but are no longer with us. It also includes some cool pictures.
Here’s a sampling. See if you recall any of these names, or perhaps you have some local memories of your own:
▪ Spano’s Restaurant
▪ Edgewood Drive-In
▪ Pritchett's Fish Camp
▪ Kirven's live mannequins
▪ Victory Bowling Lanes
▪ The Varsity
▪ The Dee Dee Shop
▪ The Goo Goo
▪ Dr. Jive record store
▪ Miss Patsy’s Playhouse
▪ Putt-Putt golf course
▪ Salisbury Fair
▪ Soap Box Derby
▪ Shamrock Drive-In
▪ The Zodiac Lounge
▪ Shakey’s Pizza
▪ The House of Ribs
▪ The Biff Burger
▪ The Coco restaurant
▪ The Orange Bowl
▪ Cook’s Hot Dogs stand downtown
▪ Alabama Wholesale Furniture and its mascot Freeway
▪ Striplin Terrace Pool
▪ Skateland on Broadway