Rick Howard thought he was ready to retire in 2000 at age 55. After all, he had owned and sold Kinetics, a furniture manufacturing business, followed by a packaging business that developed engineering solutions.
But something was bothering him. Design was in his blood and he yearned to do something more with it. That something became Sklar, a 23,000-square-foot showroom in Boca Raton that specializes in contemporary home furnishings.
This month the store is celebrating its 10th anniversary with Howard at the helm as president, CEO and owner. His wife, Pat, is vice president.
“We started out more transitional and immediately when we began to talk to people we learned they wanted furniture that was more contemporary,” he says. “Within two years we were totally contemporary.”
He sees contemporary as good design that endures rather than a trend that goes out of style.
“It welcomes art,” he says. “It welcomes books and anything that expresses your life. It is all about clean lines. To me, it is living without clutter and without being overdone.”
The Sklar Furnishings showroom expresses that philosophy by grouping the furniture in vignettes with art and accessories so the customer can envision what it may look like in their home.
The sales design-trained staff do all the space planning and color selection to fit the customer’s desires, including draperies and floor coverings. Sklar staff also works with interior designers.
Because everything is custom, Sklar doesn’t stock products for immediate delivery.
“The only thing that is instant is instant coffee and that’s no good,” he says. “We are not a point-and-shoot retailer. We have our own workrooms, delivery and technicians.”
The economic downturn that began in 2007-2008 caused many in the furniture business to fold, but not Sklar. Howard, who realized Palm Beach County was blessed with a lot of affluence, started pulling in higher-end merchandise to appeal to the discriminating buyer and continues to do so.
“Our design philosophy is expressed in every one of our advertisements,” he said. “Your space. Your lifestyle. Your choice. It sums up our mission. We are here to fulfill the dreams of our customer, not our own.”
And how about retirement? It’s not on 67-year-old Howard’s agenda.
—Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub
Sklar Furnishings, 6300 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton, 561-862-0800, www.sklarfurnishings.com.