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Family Style : Gandell's has been selling high-end home furnishings for generations, while keeping a low profile.

June 04, 1993|GERI COOK

Some retailers have maintained such a low profile over the years that one has to rely on word of mouth to know of their existence. The only public notice might be in the Yellow Pages. Such is the case with Gandell's Home Furnishings in South Pasadena, Arcadia and San Gabriel.

I visited the South Pasadena location, where most of the furniture samples are housed. Sixteen years ago, Martin Gandell opened this corner store, formerly occupied by a bank. Today, it still looks like a bank, and only the tasteful lettering on the front door indicates otherwise.

Gandell's falls into the category of a catalogue showroom, and the offerings are definitely high-end. Prices are not cheap, just considerably less than straight retail.

There's a good representation on the floor of some of the available items, or you can order from many catalogues of manufacturers such as Karges, John Widdicomb, Harden, Richardson Bros., National of Mt. Airy, John Charles, Berkline, Barcalounge, Bradington-Young and many others. Lamps and lighting fixtures include products from Frederick-Cooper, Stiffel, Fremarc and Toyo.

By ordering from the catalogues, the savings are generally 30% to 35% off the retail price.

The floor samples offer an even better deal. A stunning four-poster queen-sized bed from National of Mt. Airy's Vienna Collection is in the style of Biedermeier and lists at $2,555. However, the tag reads $1,400--45% lower than retail.

A console table by Heckman with a one-inch marble top and carved cabriole legs looks like a museum piece and would sell for $1,499, but Gandell's price is $900. The Louis XVI-style Karges sofa table in a burly walnut and cherry with brass grillwork is 72 inches long, 18 inches wide and 26 inches high, and would fit into the grandest of settings. By purchasing this floor sample, the price drops from $5,470 to $3,000.

Since Harry and Ruth Gandell opened their first store more than 30 years ago, it has been the quintessential family operation. When Harry Gandell died in 1971, his son, Martin, then still in college, and his daughter, Linda, came aboard to help their mother run the store. Today, Martin Gandell and his mother supervise the South Pasadena operation, while Linda oversees the Arcadia store.

As the operation is family oriented, so is their clientele. It's a generational kind of thing. Mothers bring in their daughters, who then bring in their daughters. Longtime customers in the San Gabriel Valley have had Gandell's furnish their first homes, their summer homes and their retirement homes.

Whereas furniture is the focus at the South Pasadena store; in Arcadia, the concentration is on flooring--wood, tile and carpeting. And if it's top-name mattresses at sizable discounts that you're looking for, head for the San Gabriel location. The prices for flooring and mattresses reflect the same savings as at the South Pasadena store.

Once an ordered item arrives at South Pasadena, it is uncrated, inspected and delivered by Gandell's; sometimes Martin Gandell himself boards the truck to be sure that the item is placed or installed perfectly. Flooring is laid by veteran installers who have been with Gandell's for 10 years or more. They have gone as far as Mexico to follow through on an order from a longtime customer.


What: Gandell's Home Furnishings, 824 Fair Oaks Ave., South Pasadena.

Hours: 2 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays.

Cards: None.

Call: (818) 799-3767.

Other Locations: 220 S. 1st Ave., Arcadia. (818) 447-4488. Hours same as above. 253 S. San Gabriel Blvd., San Gabriel. (818) 286-8998. Hours 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

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