RALEIGH, N.C. — A North Carolina furniture company once down on its luck is trying to make a comeback.
After several years of success, This End Up furniture went bankrupt inFebruary 2000, leaving 1,500 workers jobless. Now, the company is back, but with only one store -- for now.
Randall Ward, a graduate of N.C. State, was one of the founders of the furniture company 30 years ago.
"We took this furniture to the flea market and the next thing we knew, people loved it," he said.
Just 10 years later, Ward and his partner sold the company for millions.
Over the years, it would switch hands twice. There were new manufacturing plants in Lillington, Sanford and Benson.
But there were problems: Orders were lost. Some customers never got their furniture. Eventually, the company went bankrupt.
"The most disappointing part was for our employees," Ward said. "The loss of jobs for them and our suppliers, their income. It was sad to see our baby being lost."
Then came Kevin Kelly, a former technology businessman from Silicon Valley.
Four years ago, he bought the company's name and designs for $200,000 and found a loyal following when he started selling the furniture online. This week, This End Up opened a store in Briar Creek Commons.
At the peak of its success, This End Up had 130 stores nationwide. As the company rebuilds for now, there will be only one. The new owner wants to operate on a solid foundation.
"It made sense to start slow, near the manufacturing facility, said Kelly. "We can handle our deliveries. We can look after our customers."
A manufacturing facility is back open in Sanford with about 50 workers.
The company's original founder believes This End Up is on the way up once again.
"It's run by someone that has a different set of values," Kelly said.
A handful of the original employees are working in the Sanford operation again. The company will move into a new 200,000-square-foot facility in January.