The legendary Fortunoff name is on schedule for its rebirth starting this weekend, resurrected by the retailer's former executives, who said they just couldn't let a good business die.
"We could not let the patio furniture business go away," said Marty Merkur, chief operating officer of Furniture Concepts Llc, the Garden City-based company behind the return of the Fortunoff Backyard Store. "It's just too big and too good of a business to let go away, and . . . we had less people to compete with."
The company returns to the retail scene as a chain of seven Fortunoff Backyard Stores on Long Island and in New Jersey just over a year after the old company that once carried the iconic Fortunoff name entered bankruptcy protection.
As much as this revival is a business endeavor, it is also a family reunion. Executives, managers and sales associates with decades of industry experience have come back together to build a new business.
"Obviously, we feel strongly about the Fortunoff brand, and that means delivering on the brand promise - the unique product, knowledgeable and attentive customer service . . . [and] great value," said Bernard Sensale, a former Fortunoff executive and now chief executive of Furniture Concepts.
The old Fortunoff, founded in 1922, was owned and run by the Fortunoff and Mayrock families. It was sold twice to private equity firms and filed for bankruptcy protection twice before finally shutting down in May.
Last year, Merkur and Sensale formed Furniture Concepts, which licensed exclusive rights to the Fortunoff brand for outdoor furniture and seasonal products in the United States and on the Internet. Furniture Concepts formed alliances with The Chair King, a Houston-based retailer that purchased controlling interest in the company, and Isidore Mayrock, who also invested in it.
"All of these people were former Fortunoff employees and they all wanted to come back," said David Barish, president of The Chair King and Furniture Concepts. "I think that says so much about the Fortunoff and Mayrock families."