A bright red Peterbilt truck slowly backed up on Orchard Street Tuesday morning until the rear-end of its trailer reached the warehouse entrance of the old Pedersen’s Furniture store in downtown Santa Rosa.
Former Pedersen’s staff began unloading large cardboard boxes of furniture, carrying them into the warehouse that’s been mostly empty since March, when the 127-year-old family-owned store closed.
When the store and interior design showroom and warehouse reopens on May 11, the furniture retailer will carry the name of the new business, Mark Thomas Home.
That business, formerly Eastern — The Furniture Company, is a 62-year-old home furnishings business from Santa Clara that was rebranded to mark its foray into the North Coast market, co-owner Mark Lasecke said. Though the name on the 5th Street showroom window will change, much will remain the same, including keeping many of Pedersen’s staff, Lasecke said.
“That’s what made it advantageous for us,” he said. “They’re trained professionals who know the local consumer and the area.”
Reopening the Santa Rosa furniture store is a $5 million investment over a 20-month period for the new owners, a sum that includes buying merchandise, the cost of the lease agreement and payroll for staff, which will include many of Pedersen’s former employees.
As the boxes of furniture were unloaded Tuesday, John Pedersen, Pedersen’s former warehouse manager, logged each box brought into the cavernous warehouse as the high-end furniture store’s new co-owner Bryan Lasecke prepared bar code stickers for each piece.
The 35-year-old Pedersen is helping Lasecke and his brother, Mark, with a transition they hope will keep North Coast residents coming to the downtown landmark for many more years.
“The community needs a good furniture store, especially after the fire — we’ve been so freaking busy,” Pedersen said.
Mark Lasecke said he’s known Pedersen’s Furniture Co. co-owner Ken Pedersen for years and used to serve with him on the board of the national Home Furnishings Association. When he found out the Pedersens had decided to close their longtime family business, Lasecke said he couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
“Santa Rosa is a buy-local environment,” he said.
Gary and Tammy Saal, whose rebuilt home on Lakepointe Circle in Fountaingrove is nearing completion, said they’re excited to see what the Lasecke brothers will have on display in their Santa Rosa showroom when it opens next month.
The Saals lost everything in the 2017 Tubbs fire, including unique furniture pieces bought at Pedersen’s. They’ve rebuilt their home of 15 years and need to furnish 4,300 square feet of living space.
Gary Saal said he and his wife have gotten the new house close to 25% furnished with the help of Wine Country Fine Furniture in Petaluma. After they learned Mark Thomas Home would be replacing the Pedersen’s store, the couple decided to drive down to Santa Clara to see the retailer’s furniture.
“We hit it off and a quick friendship formed,” Saal said of Mark Lasecke. “We like what he’s doing and the furniture he’s bringing in.”
Much like Pedersen’s, Lasecke’s business in Santa Clara has resisted gravitating toward lower-quality furniture in order to become more competitive on price.
Lasecke said Eastern — The Furniture Company was started in the Santa Clara Valley in 1957 by his grandfather, Wisconsin native Frank Lasecke and his wife, Sandie. Frank Lasecke moved to California after he got out of the U.S. Navy in 1947 and worked for 10 years as a furniture manufacturer’s representative before opening Eastern as a wholesale showroom. The name was a nod to quality furniture made in the Eastern United States.
History of Pedersen’s Furniture Co.
Pedersen’s Furniture was founded by J.C. Pedersen, who in the 1880s migrated from Aalborg, Denmark to Del Rapids, South Dakota, where he worked as a cabinet maker.
Pedersen moved to California in 1892 and opened a shop on the corner of Fourth and A streets in Santa Rosa, where he sold furniture, carpets and funeral caskets. At the time, the county paid him $1 for the burial of impoverished county residents.
A few years after the 1906 earthquake, which destroyed the Fourth Street shop, the business moved to where present-day Corricks is located. In 1953, the Pedersen family built its Fifth Street showroom and added a 20,000-square-foot warehouse in the rear in 1973.
The family sold the property to Cornerstone Properties in October 2017.
This story originally appeared on PressDemocrat.com, also part of the Sonoma Media Investments news network.