*Furniture.com Loses Its Legs

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Furniture.com, the online category leader in furniture and home furnishings, yesterday closed shop and sacked 76 of its 88 employees.


The Framingham, MA, company said in a statement that failure to raise additional funds for continuing operations forced its closure. The fired workers were given severance pay while the remaining 12 employees are looking for ways to sell company assets.


Calls to Don Goncalves, a Furniture.com executive, were not returned.


Launched in January 1999, Furniture.com recorded $22 million in net revenues for the nine months through September -- more than double the sales it posted last year. The site garnered nearly 1 million unique visits in September, the statement said.


The online market for furniture and home furnishings has already claimed many sites, including furniturefind.com and living.com, whose major investors included Starbucks Coffee Co. and Amazon.com.


Selling furniture online has not proven to be easy due to high shipping costs and customers' desire to touch and feel furniture before buying. Internet retailers failed on these counts, despite attempts by certain Internet-only players to waive shipping charges.


Furniture.com, however, has not left customers high and dry. The company said all deposits and payments for orders taken from late May have been placed in an escrow account to allow for refunds.
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