SPOFFORD, N.H. -- Fred Moriarty is about to retire for the second time in his life.
Following many years as the treasurer of the Holstein Association USA in Brattleboro, Vt., and the birth of his granddaughter, he decided to take an early retirement and start a business dealing in home decor that has been near and dear to his heart since his college years.
After securing a lease, he and his wife, Carol, started Creative Woods Furniture store, which is set to close its doors next month. Their retirement business has served the community for the past 19 years and has involved multiple members of their family. The last day of operations is slated for early October and they expect to be out of the building by the first of November.
"We've had some great years. The economy has been hard on the furnishings industry and we've had five-year renewals on our lease," Fred said in his office. "So the lease came up and it forced us to sit down and do an assessment of our personal situation and it didn't make sense for us to renew the lease, with the economy not looking like it's going to bounce back very quickly.
"When you have a business and the business cycles down, you know that generally in about 18 months it comes back. But it's been five years since it headed down," he continued. "And it is coming back, but it's coming back very slowly."
The Moriartys, who married more than 50 years ago, were high school sweethearts in
"We went to school together. She went to the office and I went to class," Fred, formerly a certified public account, said from inside his 5,000-square-foot facility.
After they married in 1961, they moved into an off-campus apartment and chose to purchase unfinished furniture for it.
"We still have every piece of furniture we ever bought unfinished," said Fred, who is also the executive director of the Unfinished Furniture Association.
So 19 years ago, when they wanted to start a retirement business, the choice was obvious -- unfinished furniture.
The two have turned it into a truly family business, has their daughter Kelly works as the bookkeeper and granddaughter, Erin (the one born in 1993), once starred in the company's commercials.
"It was great. We deal with a lot of nice people," Carol said about the past 19 years.
Fred said the business, which has had 16,000 transactions over the past 19 years, was Carol's brainchild.
"It made our situation totally different. When I was at Holstein, over dinner I didn't have much to chat with my wife about that she understood," he said. "This store was her conception -- it was something she wanted."
Fred said he will continued his work with the UFA, going from part-time to full-time, to stay involved with the industry he loves -- which he said is made up of people not unlike Holstein dairy farmers.
"They're both family businesses -- mom and dad and the kids all work hard and feel good about what they do and so working at the association level allows me to enjoy the relationships I've built up over the years," he said.
He said the
All items in store must be sold.
Fred said he would like to spend more time on his private 30-acre farm in Hinsdale, building new trails and bush-hogging.
"That's the beauty of this part of the country -- it's common to have a home in the country with a little bit of land and plenty of nice views and fresh air," he said.
Carol said it would be nice if she and her husband could put their work lives behind them, but she's not holding her breath.
"I hope Fred will be able to enjoy life more and we can just sit out on the patio," she said. "He's just a busy, busy person."
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.