With two months left on his lease, Ali Roozbehani owner of antiques dealer, Dining Room Showcase, in downtown Boston is still hoping to find a buyer for the business. After 35 years of selling fine antiques and furniture throughout greater Boston, rising rents in the Downtown Crossing area have cornered Roozbehani between a last minute sale to a new owner and liquidating his business. If Roozbehani does not find a buyer in time his business will close.
The story of Dining Room Showcase is common. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics counts national business closures in its “Business Death Rate”. The ominous term brings to light a potential crisis for the country. The office of Bureau and Labor Statistics found that the number of business deaths has outpaced the number of business births each year since 2008. Prior to 2008, business births had been greater in number by about 100,000 per year. Earlier this month Gallup polls chairman and CEO, Jim Clifton, wrote that 470,000 “employer” businesses, that is with one or more employees, closed in 2014. Experts say the number of businesses dying is likely to increase. According to the most recent U.S. Census, around 66 percent of all employer businesses are owned by baby boomers nearing retirement.
Roozbehani, 65, hired Stoughton based Lee Business Brokers to help find a buyer. The broker soon had him in touch with a potential buyer, a painter that seemed a good fit. The deal fell through because the buyer “had no experience refinishing” explained Roozbehani. In addition to selling antique furniture, Dining Room Showcase also makes money through repairing, refinishing, appraising, and reupholstering. A new owner would need to learn these jobs and also be passionate about antiques.
For Roozbehani, his skills and passion met in a fateful encounter around 1984. He came to the United States from Iran in 1977 and was pursuing a degree in Computer Science from University of Massachusetts Boston. He sought someone to refinish his dining room table, paid close attention, and also found an interest in the refinishing process. He later began to work for that refinishing business and would partner with the owner to open Dining Room Showcase. Since then he has traveled all over the world building his collection. Some of his earliest pieces remain in the collection today including a printed edition of William Shakespeare’s “King Lear” ornately framed in gold brocade and on sale for $1300.
Roozbehani takes pride in selling unique treasures, many of them over a century old. The appraised value on his merchandise can be as high as $10,000 for the silk hand woven Persian Rug that is signed by its creator. When the business was listed for sale at Lee Brokers website on January 16, the asking price was $400,000. The price however may be negotiable. Large displays in the store windows inform that everything is on sale 50 to 80 percent off “Going out of Business”.
When owners retire, it’s a life or death decision for the business