After 58 years as part of the Vashon business community, Robinson’s Furniture will close later this spring, and owners Chuck and Mary Robinson will focus their energy on their new venture, the Vashon Floor Store.
The new business, which will be located in the former home of Essentials 4, will offer all types of flooring, Chuck Robinson said. With no heavy furniture to lift, the flooring business will be easier on him physically, he said, and with the focus on flooring only, he hopes he and Mary might be able to work fewer hours, but still serve the Island.
“There will be less volume but more attention to what we do do, which will be good for us and the customers,” he said.
Sitting in the store amidst the furniture — all on sale because of the closing — he talked recently about the store’s history and his own history with it.
His parents Bill and Ida Robinson first opened Robinson Furniture in the home of what is now Fair Isle Animal Clinic in 1953. They sold furniture, but also shrubs, trees and other plants. In 1954, they moved to the current location, after hiring someone to build what is now the front of the building then later added the back portion. Their offerings expanded to include new and used furniture, appliances, flooring, paint and window coverings.
At the time, Robinson recalled, there were three or four furniture stores on the Island, six to eight gas stations and a multitude of small grocery stores.
It was a different era, he said. Vashon was a blue collar community, with the focus on agriculture, fishing and logging — and people knew one another well.
“When I was growing up, everyone knew when someone got a new pair of shoes,” he said.
His parents had open accounts for their customers, and he recalls fishermen buying something before they headed out, saying, “I’ll pay you when I get back.”
Robinson, 65, started working for his parents when he was 16. His first job was driving the truck — a task he still does, though the furniture, he says, was a lot lighter when he was a teenager.
He left the Island for a time but came back and bought the store in 1978, where he has been ever since.
“In most cases, I enjoy it,” he said, noting that he raised four kids on the income it provided.
Mary Robinson began working at the store 14 years ago, the couple said, and they married two years later.
He hopes to close the furniture store in May or June and open the new store Friday, May 13. He picked that date intenionally as Friday the 13th carries significance in the Robinsinson family. His parents opened both stores on Friday the 13th; they were married on Friday the 13th and his sister was born on a Friday the 13th, as well.
If they can be ready to open that day, he will be pleased.
“That will be a good omen,” he said.