Iconic furniture brand Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams shuts down operations.

By Gabin Villière, CNN Week

Updated 01:16 AM August 29, 2023

 Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, a furniture company formed by its founders after their personal breakup, has shocked its approximately 800 employees by announcing its inability to continue business operations. Over the weekend, employees were informed of the news through a sign taped to the factory gate in Taylorsville, N.C. The sign stated that the company had recently discovered it could not secure crucial financing to sustain operations. Despite requests for comment, The Stephens Group, the equity firm that acquired the company in 2015, remained silent. Mitchell Gold, who retired as chairman and CEO in 2019, expressed his devastation and heartbreak over the news. He attributed changing consumer demand and supply chain issues as some of the challenges the company faced in recent years. With 24 signature stores and a history of supplying furniture to major retailers like Restoration Hardware, Williams-Sonoma, and Pottery Barn, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams' closure adds to the growing trend of challenges within the furniture industry. Other companies are also experiencing closures due to weak consumer demand and cash-flow problems. Known for their comfortable and laid-back styles, which appealed to baby boomers and their families, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams leaves behind a void in the market.

Gold and Williams were contributors to the Democratic Party and organizations advocating for women’s rights, and they were highly involved in the LGBTQ+ community.

In 1998, they transferred ownership of the company to Rowe Furniture in a transaction that allowed them to retain control of the business. Gold explains that one of the reasons for selling was their sexual orientation. "We couldn't legally marry, and if one of us passed away, we would face significant inheritance taxes," Gold shared with The Washington Post in 2007. "It could have jeopardized the company's financial stability."

Although Gold and Williams ended their personal relationship in 2001, they continued to collaborate as business partners and remained "best friends forever." In 2002, they repurchased the company with the support of a group of investors from New York, leading to the establishment of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. This name change aimed to acknowledge the contributions of both individuals. Stephens acquired the company in 2015, while Williams and Gold continued to serve on the board and hold management positions. Gold retired in 2019, and Williams, who is now 61 years old, retired in 2022. However, both men continue to serve on the board as observers.

Attempts to reach Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams via phone on Monday resulted in a recorded message stating that no associates were available to take calls at that time. Nevertheless, it appeared that furniture could still be ordered through their website. Gold mentioned that the company is currently resolving certain matters.

Gold expresses gratitude for the supportive messages he has received from current and former employees, many of whom have dedicated decades of service to the company. On Saturday, Gold shared a broken-heart GIF on Facebook along with the message: "We are still working on finding solutions... but..."