Goldfarb Lighting & Electric will close its Charleston showroom at the end of the month, but still will be offering residential and commercial wiring services and sell other lighting products.
Showrooms closing has been a trend across the country, said Jack and Doris Goldfarb, the couple who own the business.
“As the dynamics of the economy began to change and the online competition became stronger and stronger, decorative lighting showrooms all over the country began to close down,” Jack Goldfarb said.
Doris Goldfarb who used to work as an interior decorator, designed the showroom back in 1978. She said people would still come into the showroom after e-commerce started to pick up, but that wouldn’t always translate into a sale.
“People come in and look at your showroom, take your ideas and then they buy it online,” she said.
Although the showroom may be closing the business will continue to offer its other services, Jack Goldfarb said. He said they have a good following from contractors in the area and they help several banks and hospitals with their lighting needs.
“One of the things that was very disturbing is when we started to close down the lighting showroom, a lot of people thought we were closing down everything. If anything, we are going to concentrate all of our efforts now in the electrical department,” Jack Goldfarb said. “We’re expanding our lightbulb business more than ever.”
Jack Goldfarb said the lightbulb business has changed a great deal throughout the years, with LED lights now dominating the market.
“They’re constantly coming with new things,” he said. “Things that were hot a year ago are now becoming real obsolete, but we also have a good inventory of old-style bulbs.”
However, having some older supplies in stock has come to the business’ advantage. The Goldfarbs say they often carry products that lightbulb big box retailers don’t have.
“Someone came in yesterday for a breaker that hadn’t been made in 30 years, but somehow we had it,” Jack Goldfarb said.
He said another unique aspect to his store is many of his employees have been there for 30-plus years. A total of 19 people work for Goldfarb Lighting & Electric and none will be laid off with the closing of the showroom.
For the Goldfarbs, the business has always been a family affair. Jack Goldfarb’s father started the business in 1933, but he didn’t anticipate he would follow in his father’s footsteps.
“It just sort of happened,” he said.
Jack Goldfarb came back to Charleston in 1950 to work at the lighting store after attending college in Illinois. Throughout his life he saw the business move to several different places throughout the city.
When the store first opened in the 1930s there was a showroom on Summers Street, near where the BB&T building stands today. Then in 1950, it moved to Kanawha Boulevard behind where City Hall is. After 10 years, the company then moved to 106 Virginia St., which used to be a stable for horses. By 1978 they moved to the building next door, where they had both their electrical services and the showroom.
Jack Goldfarb said once he retires his two sons, who work in the electrical department, will manage the company. Although, much has changed throughout the years, Jack Goldfarb said their dedication to customer service will be a constant.
“If anyone needs decorative lighting we will make an effort to get it for them,” he said. “We pride ourselves on the service we give. We’re very concerned with making sure the customer is getting what they deserve.”