By Shelbie Ladue
After nearly 37 years in the industry, Ann Roche Casual Furniture (ARCF) owner Ann Roche is temporarily closing her Shelburne, Vt. location. Renovations are expected to go into full swing sometime after this summer season. Walking into the warmly lit building, one is greeted with a smile from Roche, who is fussing over her new haircut, an open candy jar on the counter, and more furniture than you’d ever imagine fitting in one room.
Although Roche has not yet announced a closing date, renovations are already underway in the lower level of the store where more shelving space has been added. When asked about her plans for the upper level, Roche laughed and explained, “It’s to be revealed.”
ARCF has steadily been moving up Shelburne Road over the last 17 years. “I can’t even believe how big it is!” Roche has decided that she doesn’t need 17,000 square feet of furniture. “You know,” she confides, “a lot of people think Ann Roche is a manufacturer.”
Downsizing is the focus of the upcoming renovations. The needs of customers today are much different than they were 30 years ago. It is no longer necessary for ARCF to carry six of the same chair, each one a different color. “I want to downsize,” Roche explains, gesturing to a chair. “Someone will come in and decide they want this, but they don’t like the cushion color. They want red instead of green. I intend to provide them with whatever they need, as I have always done.” Roche has decided that rather than having more furniture than is needed for display, ARCF will carry a variety of samples for each of the offered products instead.
“I know I will still be in business,” says Roche. “I am not closing. It’s too good of a business to close.” Despite the fact that there aren’t any specific renovation plans, Roche spoke of the possibility of renting out one of the floors or even purchasing a new building altogether.
“I will be right here,” she adds. “I’ve been here…well, for years!” The business has grown significantly since its beginnings in Roche’s garage. While raising six children, Roche took over selling Telescope’s products from her then business partner Bob Wood, owner of Rentz. Since then, ARCF has taken on the fine products of 30 manufacturers altogether, each artfully displayed around the store. Six years ago Roche moved into the current space and is still enamored with her Shelburne Road location.
Ann credits her husband Paul for much of the success of ARCF. He was supportive and provided financial guidance every step of the way. “I never give myself credit,” Roche admits. “I couldn’t have done it without my husband.” Currently, Roche runs the store with the help of her daughter Nancy. Perhaps this family dynamic – paired with the presence of a laughing baby – and Roche’s dedication to her customers contributes to the feeling of goodwill that is associated with the business. Over the years ANCF has become incredibly well-known in and out of Vermont. “I am so fond of all of my customers,” says Roche. “I wouldn’t be here without them.”
The summer season – the heart of furniture sales – is already upon us, and with it, a closing sale at ARCF. Customers are sure to be in for a few surprises when the store re-opens after this season. For a look at the current merchandise, visit ARCF online at www.annroche.com or stop by the store between 10 am and 6 pm Monday through Saturday, and 11 am through 6 pm on Sunday. For more information concerning the current sale or upcoming renovations, contact Ann at (802) 985-5300 or send an email to email@example.com.
By Shelbie Ladue