WICKER PARK — After 63 years in the neighborhood, a large family-run furniture store that operates in Wicker Park and Little Village is closing, a company official confirmed Tuesday.
Owned by brothers Gary and Mitch Portugal, Continental Furniture was started by their father, Ray Portugal, who began his career selling sewing machines door-to-door in 1951, according to the company's website.
"It's a big announcement for the Hispanic community," said Martha Ibarra, Human Resources director for Continental Furniture at 1425 N. Milwaukee Ave., which employs 92 people and has a solid base of bilingual and Spanish-speaking clientele.
Alisa Hauser says they aren't the first furniture store to close in the neighborhood recently:
Ibarra said that within the next few months, all three of Continental Furniture's stores are closing; at 2719 W. Cermak Road in Little Village as well as 1921 N. Mannheim Road in suburban Melrose Park.
"There is an element of surprise, stress and uncertainty, like anybody does when they find out [about their job ending]. Our owners are giving us two to three months' warning of the closure," said Ibarra, who has worked for the company for 10 years.
Signs posted in the store's window on Tuesday say, "Closed for Repairs," however, Ibarra said that the store plans to reopen on Thursday and begin a "going out of business" liquidation sale on Friday.
Ibarra said she isn't sure how long the liquidation sale will go on but said it will likely last through next year.
Over the years, the Portugal family has held free community health fairs inside of their store and partners with a nonprofit organization, Hispanocare, to give out a scholarship to a Latino student that is pursuing a career in the medical profession, Ibarra said.
The Wicker Park store, arguably the neighborhood's largest furniture store, spans three adjacent two- and four-story commercial buildings: at 1417-19 N. Milwaukee Ave.; 1421 N. Milwaukee Ave.; and 1425 N. Milwaukee Ave. The buildings range between 104 and 124 years old, according to county records.
Gary Portugal could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.
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