The news that The Bombay Company, a home furnishings chain, was closing all of its U.S. stores, didn't come as a huge surprise to me. I must have walked in and out of that store at least a dozen times without buying anything.
It always looked so tempting when you walked by the window displays – visions of my house furnished as an olde world-style gentleman's club always ran through my head. But once you got inside, the traditional-style furniture always looked a little tatty; you could already see the chips and nicks on the display pieces. All the furniture seemed to be made out of some type of compressed wood, covered with a veneer, which made it impossible to repair.
I guess cheap furniture dolled up to look expensive doesn't work in this marketplace. Either you have cheap furniture and you're proud of it (see Ikea) or customers will go for something a bit higher end, such as Crate and Barrel or Pottery Barn.
That said, Bombay Company, which had several hundred stores, did have a certain charm. The stores had a great collection of blue and white porcelain, and some attractive lamps. And if you were looking to furnish your house or apartment on a budget without looking too much like a college dorm, Bombay furniture could pass muster – as long as you kept the lights down low and didn't look too closely.
This post was written as part of a series on on 2007 departures. Read about more products, companies and people you won't see in 2008.