SOMERVILLE, NJ - The venerable Lloyd’s furniture store, an institution on Main Street for nearly 70 years, has been sold to the Stickley Furniture Company, a national retailer with a rich history that plans to continue Lloyd’s proud tradition of selling high-quality furniture to a discerning clientele.
Stickley becomes the first major national retailer to open a store in downtown Somerville.
The distinctive lines of its furniture are based on the simplistic, utilitarian designs of the Stickley brothers who began manufacturing furniture in 1903 in upstate New York, helping to give rise to the Craftsmen movement that shaped American industrial artistry for several decades, extending to lighting, pottery, metalware, tiles and other household items. It enjoyed a revival in the 1980s, with Barbra Streisand purchasing an original Stickley sideboard for $363,000.
The Audi family purchased the failing furniture company in 1974 and today employs 1.600 people.
Owner Jeff Silverman made the announcement on social media Friday.
“In 1954 as a young kid of 6, my parents put a broom in my hand and told me this is your first important responsibility every Saturday at Lloyd’s.
“Now 64 years later, I swept the store for the last time today, with pride and wonderful lifelong memories of an incredible experience at Lloyd’s.
“Today, I will be handing over the keys to the new owners, the Audi Family, owners of Stickley Furniture. The sale of our building took many years to happen, as it was so important for ...us to have an upscale merchant continue its legacy that we began.
“I want to personally pay homage to my father and mother, Lloyd and Marjorie Silverman for planting the seed and growing it to its established level. Along with my wife Ghislaine, my amazing father, Lloyd, I wish the Audi family continued success at 130 West Main. My family thanks all of our devoted employees and our loyal customers for our 67 years of business in downtown Somerville."
Stickley, based in Syracuse, NY, owns and operates 17 stores throughout the northeast and as far west as Colorado. There are two other stores in New Jersey, Paramus and East Hanover.
The elder Silverman and founder of the Lloyd furniture company, is 97 and continued to work until the store closed its door for the final time last year.
He and his wife opened the Snow White Laundromat on Division Street near the Somerville post office in 1947, a few years after he got out of the Army, according to his son.
“Next to that was a shop that became vacant,” the younger Silverman said. “Back in those days, my father told me that people used to wait in line for a store to get vacant, that’s how popular Somerville was at that time.
“Dad bought it and decided to open Lloyd’s Unpainted Furniture store and soon moved to Main Street,” he continued. “That was the place to be.”
The business model soon changed to specialize in colonial furniture, the first of many evolutions that would occur over the years.
“We were ahead of the times, specializing in colonial furniture before Ethan Allen had colonial furniture, everyone else was running their stores with appliances and Mediterranean style furniture,” Silverman said.
By 1970, when he graduated the University of Miami, Lloyd’s had switched over to more traditional furniture, according to Silverman.
He immediately went to work with his mother and father full-time.
“I always loved that business,” he said, going back to his days sweeping floors.
Lloyd’s began to expand over the next 25 years, opening Lloyd’s Furniture Depot at the Somerville Circle in 1978 and Bye Bye Baby, a children’s furniture store, in 1991.
In 1993, Lloyd’s opened Couches USA on Route 22 next door to Somerville Lumber in Bridgewater. A Lloyd’s furniture store modeled after the Somerville store opened in Shrewsbury in 1999.
In 2001, Silverman's son and wife opened Lloyd’s French shop on Davenport Street behind the Main Street store, with European-inspired furniture and antiques.
That was followed by the creation of Antiques and Finds in 2004, a wholesale antique business with warehouses located in Branchburg on Tannery Road. He and his wife traveled the world purchasing antiques and shipping containers back to New Jersey.
In 2012, Lloyd’s traditional furniture showroom closed and reopened as Lloyd’s European Market.
There was one more change to come, with Lloyd’s morphing into Lloyd’s Furniture Outlet in 2013. The elder Silverman and his son began to talk about closing the business in 2014, winding down with the final clearance sale in 2017.
Silverman has many fond memories from over the years, including a special reception at the store for Princess Diana’s personal butler, Paul Burrell, who launched his own line of furniture in the United States at Lloyd’s in 2009.
“It was quite an honor,” Silverman recalls. More than 200 invited guests visited with Burrell on the second floor of Lloyd’s, where he was surrounded by his furniture and guests eager to hear stories of his days with Princess Di and British Royalty.
New York’s WOR radio also made themselves at home in Lloyd’s Main Street Gallery, with hosts Joan Hamburg, a Broadway critic and food critic Arthur Schwartz broadcasting several shows to millions of listeners in the tri-state area.
“I have zero regrets,” Silverman said. “I wanted to end our business on a very high note which we did. I wanted to bring in an upscale, fine caliber store to continue our legacy. We are proud to turn the store over to these people. They are very excited about opening their store in Somerville. They love the building.”
Silverman said his father is finally retired at the age of 97, but that he and his wife may explore other opportunities.
“There’s a new chapter brewing,” he said.