In local news Van Nuys it is sad when a business that had been in existence for 108 years, having been founded in 1909, and had expanded to multiple locations in the Los Angeles area had to acknowledge that it could no longer stay open. They couldn’t fight the lack of foot traffic that had come mostly from the local garment industry that had been dwindling, growing competition from online retailers, and other purposes that had moved in. All those reasons eventually meant the end of a long and successful era as the final stores closed in August of 2017.
So many of Dearden’s predominantly lower-income Latino clientele still miss the stores that used to provide so many of their needs. The retailer even extended credit as one of its hallmarks to allow Latino immigrants to set up their homes in a new country. Those homeowners became excellent customers who were with them for 30, 40 years and brought in their children and grandchildren as continuing customers.
The multi-floor home furnishings business sold everything from furniture to appliances, beds, cookware, other home goods, televisions, electronics, housewares, toys, watches, perfume, jewelry, and so much more. They even offered services such as check cashing, bill paying, money transfers, income tax preparation, and travel planning.
The employees, all of which spoke both English and Spanish, were treated like valued family. They were given such benefits as loans to buy a home, loans to help them put their children through universities, and others. Dearden’s also funded 800 college scholarships for employees’ children and paid funeral costs to any employee if they lost a loved one.
For example, Raquel Bensimon, who is “proudly 83”, began working in accounting in 1961. She rose to part owner and chairman of the board. After close to 57 years with the store, and considering her age, Bensimon is not planning to seek a new career but said she will devote her time to charitable activities such as donating her stockpiled merchandise, including mini-grills, to the needy.
At the end, Dearden’s provided its 420 employees assistance with resume writing, job-placement services, and training at no cost, and some of them got really good offers.
NOTE: One of the several sources I used was http://www.dailynews.com/2017/08/04/deardens-employees-customers-mourn-furniture-chains-end-after-108-years/