Wednesday, August 20, 2008

But what's going to happen to Sammy LaCorte?

The decision by the Finger family to rebrand their local furniture business means that yet another hometown brand is disappearing. Fingers Furniture Co., a Houston presence for 81 years, is assuming the identity of Wisconsin-based Ashley Furniture. The Houston Press, which is obviously going to miss those Fingers commercials on the ten o'clock news, is not impressed:
"Ashley"? Sounds pretty damn sissified to us. Give us a tough-talking, digit-pointing, oddly enthusiastic, strange-haired guy telling us something is "at your fingers," not "at your Ashley."
I can't say I'm too thrilled about the decision, either, just as I wasn't too enthused when the Foleys name was replaced by Macys. Every time a local brand is replaced with a national one, a piece of the city's history disappears with it. But business is business.

Fingers currently operates four local stores, including their massive, 250,000-square-foot showroom at the corner of Gulf Freeway and Cullen, across the Freeway from the University of Houston. That building sits on the site of Buff Stadium. The Buffs, a minor league affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, were the city's baseball team until the city was awarded a Major League franchise - then known as the Houston Colt .45s and now known as the Astros - in the early 1960s. There is a small sports museum inside that furniture store, located where home plate of Buffs Stadium used to be. Hopefully, the museum - very few people know it even exists - will be spared by any renovations that happen as the building is transformed from a Fingers to an Ashley HomeStore.

I drive past this store frequently because Combat Kroger is located in the same area, just a few blocks further down Cullen from the freeway. In the parking lot in front of the Fingers store is a huge four-sided sign with a marquee on each side. The marquees facing Cullen and the Gulf Freeway are generally regularly updated to announce sales, new furniture shipments, and the like. The marquee facing the store itself, however, has said the same thing for years: CONGRATULATIONS SAMMY LACORTE, SALESPERSON OF THE MONTH.

Sammy LaCorte must be a really good salesperson if they never have to change that marquee! (For the record, at least one internet reviewer likes him.) Hopefully Sammy, and the rest of the employees at the Gulf Freeway Fingers, will not be adversely affected by the rebranding.

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