PORTSMOUTH — Abode Home Furnishings plans to close by Dec. 31, ending a chapter that began 36 years ago when its owner opened the store as a Pier 1 Imports franchise.
Carl Rohacek began slashing prices on Black Friday in anticipation of the closure of the store known for its merchandise that includes furniture, kitchenware, wall decor and other art, rugs, lamps, incense and toys.
“We’re going to see how things go and we’ll be reducing prices accordingly,” said Rohacek, whose Abode store at 775 Lafayette Road first opened its doors as Pier 1 on Mirona Road in 1983. Pier 1 relocated to a new store near the Dinner Horn on Route 1 and then to its current location in 1994.
Rohacek, who turns 68 in January, started his career with Pier 1 after college. He gained experience working in Pier 1 stores elsewhere before eventually deciding to buy a franchise with a partner and opening the Portsmouth store.
“This was a great place to do business. Portsmouth, N.H., was the best market I worked in with people being reasonable and customers being easy to deal with,” said Rohacek, who has traveled as far as China, Japan, the Philippines and Taiwan to find merchandise.
The store’s location on Lafayette Road was once neighbor to Stroudwater Books, which closed in 2000.
“It was a perfect marriage. We operated very well for a while,” Rohacek said.
The store grew from 17,000 square feet to its current 23,000 square feet and was rebranded as Abode Home Furnishings in 2006.
While Abode still carried many of the items that were sold when it was Pier 1, it took a hit after the rebranding. Rohacek said the store lost 25% of its customers, and a year later it was hurt by the Great Recession.
“The recession came in 2007, and I think that changed for a lot of people,” he said.
The store has also faced challenges from the growth of online retail and more competition from larger furniture stores that have moved into the area.
“With business shrinking a little every year, the store size is too much for me. The writing has been on the wall, and I procrastinated for about a year. If I kept it open another year I would lose money,” he said.
Rohacek said he decided earlier this year that he would close and informed his dozen workers of the plan in August.