Lyle’s & Jensen’s Home Furnishings on Jordan Avenue, a family business in that location for about 27 years, has sold the building and will continue operations through the end of December.
“This store is closing, but we’re still trying to get another store somewhere else,” said Laura Barnes, who was working at a desk behind the counter in the back with a dog named Ozzy Jawsbourne nearby.
The building is adorned with signs bearing upper-case letters proclaiming “STORE CLOSING,” a tone matched in urgency in social media ads, but Barnes said she hoped people didn’t get the wrong impression.
“It’s a little misleading since we’re still here and operating for a couple of months,” she said.
Some signs on the building might even appear to be contradictory — “help wanted” alongside “closing” — but it does tell a more fulsome story, said Barnes. “‘Now hiring’ signs confuse people, but it’s true. We don’t have enough people to even get out of here.”
The large showroom is a little too much to handle for two or three people, explained Barnes, who has worked there for about six years. Their initial plan was to get a smaller space that would be more manageable with fewer people. But prices were too high at Nugget Mall, while Mendenhall Mall didn’t have enough space, she said.
“We couldn’t even find a warehouse.” Instead they purchased between eight and 10 shipping containers to store things.
Barnes described herself as an “adopted” member of the Jensen family, three of whom were in the building on Friday.
Shirlene Jensen has been running the business with husband Scott Jensen since the early ‘90s. She said Scott started the company in his parent’s garage around 1992 and it quickly grew bigger. They rented three different retail spots before buying the building at 2093 Jordan Ave. She thinks that was 1995; they’ve been there ever since.
A pole sign in front of the building reveals more about the history of the business. It’s an old Maytag Home Appliance sign featuring the iconic bored repairman with “Lyles Maytag” fading at the bottom. The Jensens bought the Lyle business, which included the building and furniture, from seven partners. The Jensens decided to keep the Lyle name and add theirs to it.
“It was a good name, a longstanding name,” Shirlene said.
That explains the social media ads, which note the furniture business dates back 70 years.
She agreed the challenge of finding employees, which a lot of businesses have experienced in recent times, has been a factor in her wanting to close the business. She also worries about Scott’s health, because it’s a physically demanding job.
They always planned to stay open for several months after the sale of the building because of inventory in the pipeline. “That’s the way it is in the furniture business,” said Jensen. The good news for shoppers is that there is new merchandise, including rugs.
The Juneau assessor’s database shows the new owner of the building is Alaska Industrial Hardware Inc., which has a storefront about a quarter mile away. A man who answered the phone there said they hoped to be in the new location by late spring.
• Contact Meredith Jordan at [email protected] or (907) 615-3190.