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For over 10 years, Interiors with Oohs and Aahs, has provided furniture, accessories, lighting, appliances, rugs, and more to locals and tourists, looking for "mountain-style" furniture. Owner Paul Hower closed the store Friday. Christopher Reeves/The Park Record

It would be a little dramatic to say "oohs and ahhs" could be heard from employees hauling heavy tables, book shelves and couches at the home furnishings and custom design center located at 1351 Kearns Boulevard this week.

But, when you're moving an entire showroom to the back of a truck - a few groans can be expected.

For over 10 years, Interiors with Oohs and Aahs, have provided furniture, accessories, lighting, appliances, rugs, and more to locals and tourists, looking for "mountain-style" furniture.

Friday, they closed their doors - for good.

A yellow sign with red lettering reading "going out of business," surrounded by an arrangement of "sale" signs, appeared on the store windows mid-May, but despite the haste to pack up shop, Owner Paul Hower said the closing had been brewing for nearly five years, so the lease wasn't renewed.

"Things changed after the economy dropped in 2008. What we were hoping to be temporary problems turned out to be long term," Hower said from the store full of moving boxes. "We need to downsize and redevelop ourselves. Furniture retail is hard in the area, mostly because people who are buying furniture drive over the hill to Salt Lake City to get it. We need more niche in our product, something that tells a story."

Unlike other local businesses who have thrown in the towel as of late, Hower is getting the opportunity to recreate the story, so to speak.

During 1995, the Gunnison, Colo. native opened his first location, and with success opened another in close by Crested Butte, Colo. The Park City location, which opened its doors in 2003, is the only location to be closed.


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Focusing on clientele in mountain towns, all three locations that offered manufactured furniture in the past, are downsizing, and reformatting what they normally do to get back to what they have passion for - making furniture.

"We opened a wood shop in Colorado about a year ago and things are starting to progress with that aspect of business," Hower said. "I have a passion for making furniture and I want to offer a product to customers that has a story behind it, opposed to going to market and buying something generic."

At the wood shop, located in Gunnison, Hower is starting to produce his own line of furniture. Handmade furniture built at the location, along with older items he refurbishes, will be distributed around the country and sold from his other two locations.

According to Hower, selling products manufactured by other companies was good business before the economy sank, but things changed and never rebounded at the Park City location. Putting a unique touch on furniture is what customers now find appealing.

"When running a business you need to evolve with the times and I think we tried moving forward using the same business model for too long. A change needed to be made," Hower said. "We wanted to stay in the area, but couldn't find a location small enough. This location has just become too much space and the effort to keep it open has kept us from progressing with our own line of furniture."

Employees, who are accustomed to shipping merchandise to customers, have been following this routine to the extreme all week. But will not be following the furniture to Colorado, Hower said.

 

According to Hower, the crew consisting of locals, who have been helping the entrepreneur provide complete home design packages, have individual design projects they are pursuing.

"I've been lucky to work with great employees over the years and have made a lot of great connections," Hower said. "We've been trying to keep it out of the red for a long time, and we're worn out. I'd like to come back to Park City when the time is right."