NB Liebman closing after 76 years in Harrisburg, Pa., market

Second-generation owner Charles Liebman says he’s ready to retire on heels of strong sales year

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. — NB Liebman will close here later this spring after 76 years in business in the greater Harrisburg, Pa., market.

Charles Liebman, 75, the second-generation owner, told Home News Now, “Father Time has caught up with me,” and that his family — including his wife of 50 years, two daughters and four grandchildren — “are all saying it’s time. It was time a long time ago,” he said with a laugh.

The retailer will kick off its store-closing sale Friday, April 1 at its remaining location at 4705 Carlisle Pike in Mechanicsburg. Liebman said the closing sale will run through Memorial Day weekend.

Furniture promotional sales specialists Planned Furniture Promotions is handling the sale at the 50,000-square-foot store. The showroom is part of a 132,000-square-foot building that includes an attached warehouse, which already has attracted interest from potential buyers, especially from others in the furniture and self-storage industries. Liebman said. 

Charles Liebman

Longtime key suppliers to the retailer include, Craftmaster, Klaussner, Legacy Classic, Bernhardt, Universal, Riverside, Vaughan-Bassett, Leather Italia and Sealy, Stearns & Foster and Tempur-Pedic in bedding.

“My deepest gratitude to all the people who’ve been part of NB Liebman, from the countless families we served to the wonderful store staff who became part of our family,” Liebman said in a release. “I’ve been personally privileged to serve this community for more than 50 years of the company’s history.” 

He told HNN the midpriced retailer is coming off a great year of business, up about 40% over 2020.  That 2020 period included temporary closure during the early days of the pandemic, “But still it was terrific,” he said. 

“Believe it or not, we are still waiting for some of the merchandise customers bought (last year). And while the PFP folks are running their sale, we’re quietly in the background, receiving a little each day from orders that are anywhere from six months to 12 months old and getting it out to customers. We want to satisfy every customer before we go.”

Liebman said the family believes this is a good time to bring the business to a close. “The demand for furniture was fabulous, so that has enabled us to get all of our house in order, pay off any debts we had ― plus the real estate is very valuable. 

“We wanted to go out on a good note, take care of all of our employees, pay all of our suppliers. I’ve seen so many retailers over the years under great financial duress at the end. Some have had to file for bankruptcy.  We’re going to do the exact opposite. We’re going out the best way we can.”

Charles Liebman’s father Nathan Liebman opened the retailer’s first store in Harrisburg on Derry Street in 1946, but the business is actually the offshoot of an even older family business that was started in 1919 by Nathan’s older siblings, who immigrated to the United States from Russia. At the height of the Liebman family business, there were 10 stores operating from Allentown, Pa., to downtown Philadelphia and stretching as far as Baltimore, Md. and Cherry Hill, N.J. 

Charles Liebman started working in his father’s Harrisburg business after graduating from college. The company had operated two stores for most of its time in the market, but closed its location across town in 2017 as the first step toward Liebman’s retirement.

NB Liebman has been named the Most Recognized Furniture Dealer in the Harrisburg market by the American Opinion Research Group and over time, received numerous awards for its participation in community service. Among other things, the retailer partnered for many years with the local CBS affiliate on its “Houseful of Furniture” contest, awarding free rooms of furniture to families in need. It also was a 30-year member of the Styletrend buying group and served as its president for two years.

Charles Liebman’s daughter Dani Liebman Healey, became the third generation to join the business in 2000 and currently is vice president of administration. “She does a wonderful job” handling much of the day to day, but doesn’t want to continue with it, Liebman said. Despite NB Liebman’s strong year, furniture is still a tough business and all indications are it’s only going to get tougher for many small players.

“We had a family heart-to-heart and just decided there are so many obstacles facing independent retailers today,” Liebman said, “not the least of which are supply chain problems, the scarcity of employees, and the Covid thing which is still hanging over our heads and certainly not out of our system yet.

“We felt for her to try to continue on is probably not a good business decision. There are so many easier ways to make a living.”

The company currently employs about 35 people. There had been more, but during the pandemic and knowing that it eventually would close, it decided not to replace employees who left as the company downsized. 

As for Charles Liebman, he said, he’ll miss the parts of the business he enjoys most — working with suppliers on choosing merchandising, planning marketing, getting the goods in and seeing how they sell. “But you can’t be a little bit pregnant,” he said. 

“It’s going to be a little sad, but I always believed if you can get out of the furniture business with your sanity and a few bucks in your pocket, you’re doig well.

“And I emphasize the sanity.”

Clint Engel

Clint Engel is a veteran home furnishings industry journalist and executive editor of Home News Now. Please share your feedback with him at clint@homenewsnow.com

View all posts by Clint Engel →

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