Longtime Richmond Highway furniture dealer to retire, close showroom

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The Keeping Room has occupied upper and lower-level units at Potomac Square for well over three decades.

For 37 years, Duane Collie has owned and operated the Keeping Room, a two-floor custom furniture store located at Potomac Square near the Woodlawn section of Alexandria. As the sole proprietor, Collie has handled all aspects of the business, including helping load and unload the high-end sofas, chairs, tables and accessories delivered to and from his shop.

This past September, he decided it was time to retire. Age and health issues were key factors in his decision. “It has not been an easy one since I love this business and my customers,” said Collie in a Facebook post.

Around half of those customers are in the Washington, D.C. area, and half are outside the area, according to Collie, who added that about 50% of his business is generated via internet and mail order sales. He may well continue to operate that part of the business, despite closing the showroom, he said.

Over the years, the Keeping Room’s inventory has evolved with the times and customers’ tastes. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, the furniture — which is all USA-made — was primarily colonial style. In later decades, leather upholstery became the trend. One of the most popular product lines Collie has sold is Hancock & Moore, a North Carolina-based custom leather furniture maker.

Some of the remaining inventory at the Keeping Room's showroom

Now he’s in a rush to sell as much of his inventory as he can at discounted prices before the building’s new owner takes occupancy in late February. When Collie listed the two-unit commercial condo with a broker earlier this fall, he didn’t expect it to sell so quickly, but a buyer came along with plans to open a jewelry store.

“There aren’t many units where you can buy the location,” said Collie. “Most rent.”

If Collie hasn’t sold all his inventory by mid-February — he’s currently unloaded about half of it — he’ll temporarily move the remaining furniture to the upper floor while the new owner renovates the lower level, he said.

Leaving Potomac Square will be bittersweet for Collie, who was one of the original owners in the complex. On one hand, he’s somewhat relieved to be moving out before the widening of Richmond Highway, which will entail a lot of construction and take away the service road next to the building. On the other hand, he’s disappointed to give up the shop that managed to weather economic downturns over the years and provided exceptional service and quality products to customers.

“It’s a unique business,” said Collie. “It’s going to leave a void because not that many places can buy this caliber of furniture.”

For the Keeping Room’s Retirement Sale, Collie is offering 20% off all floor stock furniture and 30% off all artwork, lamps, rugs and accessories. Local delivery is available at an additional charge. The store, located at 8405 Richmond Highway, Suite G, is open Tuesday to Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

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