Business

Thursday, Apr 08 2010 05:47 PM

Worth Noting in business: Local Ashley Furniture closes, new shops downtown and more

By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

Just months after reaching a credit agreement with a key supplier, struggling Ashley Furniture HomeStore in Bakersfield has closed.

The landlord of the retailer's building began looking for a new tenant in February after saying the store had stopped paying rent. At the time, a consultant hired to help the store fulfill its delivery obligations said Frank Van Ostrand, owner of store parent company V.O. & Co., was trying to keeping the store open.

Tom Thompson of SPCI Consulting, said customers who paid for furniture but have not yet received it should call the local Ashley Furniture warehouse at 837-0046.

Arcadia, Wis.,-based furniture manufacturer Ashley Furniture Industries Inc. says it will honor orders even though it was not fully paid, but it could be a few months before consumers get their deliveries.

Van Ostrand could not be reached for comment Thursday. There is no answer at the store.

V.O. & Co., Inc. emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June of last year, but furniture stores across the nation have been hard hit by the housing crisis and it never fully regained its footing.

 

Downtown Bakersfield is getting some new shops.

In "two to three weeks," Greg Pfeifer Jr. plans to open Doo Wop Diner, a new '50s diner on the corner of 19th and Eye streets.

The 8,000-square-foot eatery will seat about 250. On Thursday and Friday nights the diner has booked a house band that will play live 1950s- and '60s-era music. There's to be a dance floor, too.

A block south, the Moronet Professional Building has two new tenants coming soon: BurrBerry Frozen Yogurt at 1514 18th St. and Sunshine & Sandwiches at 1516 18th St.

The owners of those shops could not be reached for comment, but remodeling work in both spaces is well under way.

Other longtime tenants there are a tattoo parlor, a massage parlor, a hair salon and a pawn shop.

Bakersfield is enjoying a little bit of a frozen yogurt renaissance, it seems.

Churros and Yogurt opened March 25 at Valley Plaza mall and Love Yogurt just opened at 6077 Coffee Road north of Olive Drive.

 

The popular surf/skate shop Wavelengths that was supposed to close in early February has turned into an outlet store and is operating under new management.

New manager Noel White came from Fresno to operate the Bakersfield location. White has worked for the company for 15 years.

Although the store offers the same men and women's brands, it is staying away from the hard stuff, snowboards and surf boards. All merchandise in the store is sold at discounted prices.

"Nothing is full price. It has been working as an outlet store -- it has been profitable for us," White said.

The store is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week, and is now owned by brothers Patrick and Mike Hischier, the men who started the original store in Morro Bay.

Former manager and co-owner Chad Hoggard, who left about two weeks ago, said he stepped down.

 

The Amy's Hallmark at 2625 Oswell St. that was slated to close in February is staying open, according to store manager Susan Williams. When news spread that the store was closing, corporate lines were inundated with calls from loyal customers trying to save their neighborhood store.

A Hallmark customer service agent said it would take two to five days to hear more details from corporate.

 

Customers of Southern California Gas Co. will receive smart meters designed to help them control their usage and costs, the state Public Utilities Commission decided Thursday.

Six million of the remote devices are to be installed between 2012 and 2017 at a total cost to ratepayers of $1.05 billion.

The company is required to host a workshop on how it will reach out to customers and help them conserve gas. It also must pay for the retraining of meter readers who will be put out of work by the project.

 

Jim Burke Ford and Jim Burke Lincoln Mercury plan to partner with Ford Motor Co. on a pair of fundraisers later this month at Centennial and Highland high schools.

The company and the dealerships say they will donate $20 for every person who test drives a 2010 Taurus, Fusion Hybrid, Mercury Milan or Lincoln MKT from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 17 at Centennial. The same offer applies from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 24 at Highland.

Each school can raise up to $6,000, Ford said in a news release Thursday.

Ford and its dealerships have helped more than 700 high schools raise more than $2.3 million since 2007.

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