Longtime Houston business about to change

HOUSTON Furniture has always been Rodney Finger's life. He worked for his family as a child. Now, he's preparing the Finger's Furniture stores for its final sale.

"Let's face it. We have to run a viable company and we have to be successful in the future and I think this was the best model to be able to do that," he said.

The new face of Finger's will be Ashley Furniture. The Finger's company now holds the exclusive rights in the Houston area for the Ashley brand, which is considered the country's largest furniture retailer.

But the Finger's name will vanish from the marquee, ending a name identity that began here more than 80 years ago.

In the early 1900s, the Fingers had a dry goods store in Shepherd, Texas. In 1927, the first Finger's Furniture opened on South Main. And so the local family empire began.

Atop the old Buff Stadium was the 'magnificent showroom,' as it was called. Home plate is still in the showroom basement. Suburban stores followed.

Two years ago, a downturn began because of the economy. Last year, the face of the stores, Bobby Finger, passed away. The conversion to Ashley, his son says, had his approval.

"My dad blessed it," said Rodney. "He realized that we needed a change and he realized that our industry had changed dramatically."

Now, another fixture in Houston retail is changing, too. There will be a new look and a new name. But the Finger family will be behind it all.

"The things that our customers always loved about Finger's, which is selection, price and service, we're going to do that, but we're going to be able to do that better," said Rodney. "And at the end of the day, I think that's what's important."

The liquidation sale begins Thursday. The conversion to Ashley should be complete by next year. The Finger Furniture company already owns and operates several of those stores in the Houston area.

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