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News Digest | Aug 8, 2023
Home renovations often reveal unexpected details that were long ago painted or built over—one bed-and-breakfast in the English countryside recently uncovered not one, but two historic design details: rare Delft tiles and a centuries-old Carrara marble fireplace. Stay in the know with our weekly roundup of headlines, launches, events, recommended reading and more.
Trucking giant Yellow filed for bankruptcy, The New York Times reports, just days after shutting down operations and cutting roughly 30,000 jobs. According to court documents from Yellow’s Chapter 11 filing, the company estimated that it has more than 100,000 creditors and over $1 billion in liabilities—including nearly $1.7 million owed to Home Depot and more than $800,000 owed to Bed Bath & Beyond. Beyond that, the company owes about $730 million to the federal government for a $700 million loan received during the summer of 2020 as part of the Trump Administration’s pandemic-relief legislation—a loan that has since come under scrutiny due to the company’s financial struggles and close ties to the administration. Yellow’s fate remains uncertain, though court documents reveal that it intends to sell “all or substantially all” of its assets and pay back its government loan, of which it has repaid roughly $66 million in interest and just $230 of the principal so far.
Klaussner Home Furnishings permanently ceased operations and began closing down its facilities this week, Furniture Today reports. According to a statement posted on the Asheboro, North Carolina–based retailer’s site, its lending source unexpectedly pulled out of the company, which prompted the abrupt shutdown. Industry sources pointed to recent challenges including an inability to meet payments with key suppliers and difficulty receiving goods. Klaussner Home Furnishings did not return FT’s request for comment.
Acelab, a product-selection platform for the construction industry, raised $5.3 million in a funding round co-led by investment firms Pillar VC, PJC and Draper Associates. Founded in 2019, the company serves over 7,000 firms across the country with a product database encompassing 39,000 items across categories such as windows, doors, cladding, roofing and insulation. With the new capital, Acelab plans to allow users to buy products directly from its platform—a feature that the company aims to roll out within the next 12 to 18 months, according to VentureBeat. Additionally, the company is exploring new generative AI features to automatically create product specification documents for architecture and design projects.
Home decor chain Rooms To Go acquired Memphis-based retailer The Great American Home Store, Home News Now reports. Through the acquisition, Rooms To Go—which operates 150 stores nationwide—aims to expand its footprint in the Southeast with The Great American Home Store’s four locations throughout Memphis and Mississippi. Following the purchase, all four stores will continue operating under The Great American Home Store name.
Philadelphia-based national institutional investor Janney Montgomery Scott reduced its stake in home furnishings retailer RH by 90 percent, from 29,700 shares to 3,051 shares, Best Stocks reports—a move that comes just a few months after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway sold all 2.36 million of its RH shares. The news follows a downturn year for RH, whose earnings per share last quarter stood at $2.21—a steep decline from the $7.78 per share it reported during the same period last year. Despite this, the company’s stock price continues to rally, with its shares trading at a 52-week high of $398 at press time.
A former employee of Pennsylvania-based supplier Arnold’s Office Furniture was arrested on charges of embezzling $1.2 million, Furniture Today reports. Employed at the company from 2015 until her termination earlier this year, Linda Mansi worked in various roles in which she was responsible for accounts payable and receivable; credit and debit cards; payroll and other financial activities. During her time with Arnold’s Office Furniture, she allegedly spent company funds on everything from personal travel expenses and online gambling sites to routine household expenditures. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for August 9.
Launches & Collaborations
Airbnb tapped Gwyneth Paltrow to list the guesthouse of her sprawling Montecito estate on the rental platform’s site. Along with access to the space’s wood-burning fireplace, soaking tub and wine cellar, guests will be invited to take part in a free Transcendental Meditation session, a spa day, a full suite of Goop products and dinner with Paltrow herself. Available for free to two guests for one night only, the space will be listed at 1 p.m. EST on August 15.
Lifestyle media platform Hypebeast launched a new dedicated design vertical called Hypeform. The launch kicked off with a dedicated Instagram page (@hypeform) and will include the debut of new projects and coverage in the coming months, spanning topics such as graphics, furniture, interiors and more, and covering both up-and-coming small makers and major industry brands alike.
Since South Carolina residents John and Katie Tashjian bought their house in 2017, anywhere from 25 to 50 strangers stop by every weekday to take photos and admire the surroundings—all because the movie The Big Chill was filmed there in the 1980s. As Candace Taylor reports for The Wall Street Journal, the help of social media and Google Maps means even obscure celebrity-connected properties—Taylor Swift’s one-time New York apartment, the brownstone stoop of Carrie Bradshaw’s place in Sex and the City—can be easily found by swarms of fans, giving rise to a trend that’s overwhelming homeowners and scaring away buyers.
The interest-rate roller coaster of recent years—which went from a low of 2.65 percent in early 2020 to today’s high of more than 7 percent—has given rise to an unexpected new social phenomenon among recent homebuyers: the mortgage-rate humblebrag. For The New York Times, Ronda Kaysen explored the new form of one-upmanship (even consulting one Cornell professor who studies humblebragging) to find out why disclosing one’s mortgage rate is now a mode of demonstrating financial prowess.
Cue the Applause
Forbes debuted its third annual 50 Over 50 list, celebrating exceptional women who are shaping the future of science, technology and art in their respective fields. This year’s list includes interior designer and creative director Sheila Bridges, who earned the distinction based on accomplishments including the launch of her eponymous brand and now-iconic Harlem Toile de Jouy wallpaper; her work on The Vice President’s Residence in Washington, D.C., completed in 2022 for Vice President Kamala Harris; and her collaborations with major industry brands like Williams-Sonoma and Le Creuset, which will release new collections with Bridges in 2023.
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