Cathie Anderson

Owners invest $1 million to remodel Watt Avenue La-Z-Boy store

Jim and Liz Reego asked Liz’s mom, Margaret Gordon, to cut the ribbon Thursday to celebrate the couple’s $1 million remodel and grand reopening of their La-Z-Boy showroom on Watt Avenue, right near Country Club Plaza.

It was a fitting request since 87-year-old Margaret and her late husband, Eugene Gordon, opened Sacramento’s first La-Z-Boy store 33 years ago. They retired in 1993, when the Reegos took over the business.

“When we opened the store at Watt and El Camino, it was maybe … 4,000 square feet, and we had our own little warehouse in the back,” said Liz Reego. “We did it all. We sold it. We loaded it. We put swivels on it. We did everything. It was such a mom-and-pop organization, and to see it now grow to where we have an entire fleet of trucks and design staff. It’s really exciting to see how it’s evolved in the 33 years since we started.”

The Gordons built the business up to four stores. The Reegos now have a total of seven, and they have relocated stores they acquired from Liz’s parents as traffic patterns and demographics changed.

The Reegos continued to operate the store at 2248 Watt Ave. during renovations. The project slightly expanded the showroom to 15,243 square feet, Liz said, about the amount of space needed to showcase the 40 room vignettes in a La-Z-Boy store. As part of the project, the Reegos updated signage, reworked the electrical system, repainted, and added a rock wall and other design features.

“The renovation took about five months,” Liz said. “We divided the store in half, and we operated two-and-a-half months on one side and two-and-a-half months on the other. What was nice is we were able to sustain our business at almost the same level as when the whole store was open… . We were able to do some clearance selling because we were trying to get everything out. After we renovated, we wanted everything in there to be brand new.”

His pencils sprout: Danish entrepreneur Michael Stausholm was heading to Los Angeles to be interviewed by the team at BusinessRockStars.com, and he had to decide whether it was worth his while to make a detour to Sacramento for an interview with this columnist.

So, the Sprout CEO assessed our stature in the marketplace before deciding whether the interview was worth the trouble. He ended up sitting down with me at Insight Coffee on S Street in Sacramento on a Sunday afternoon in late October to talk about Sprout Pencil.

Made from sustainably sourced wood, the pencils have a capsule filled with seeds attached to them, rather than an eraser.

After the pencils are sharpened down to a three-inch nub, the capsule can be planted and herbs, flowers or produce will grow. Engraved near the capsule is the name of the enclosed plant seeds. No lead or toxic materials are used in the pencils, Stausholm said, so they can be composted after the capsules dissolve.

“I just thought this was a great way to illustrate what sustainability was all about,” Stausholm said. “You could have something, use it for it’s primary purpose, but instead of throwing it out when you’re finished, you use it for something entirely different. In this case, you give a pencil new life.”

A package of three Sprout Pencils retails for about $7. The company sells roughly 450,000 of them a month. Many buyers, Stausholm said, are multinational corporations such as Chrysler, IKEA and Disney.

“By buying a Sprout pencil rather than the typical pencil, you send a message that you’re thinking about the environment and how products are being used,” Stausholm said. “It’s about not overusing or overproducing. It’s about consuming with a conscience and thinking about how you consume.”

Stausholm is looking for Sacramento-area retailers, but the pencils can be ordered online at sproutworld.com and theautry.org. The company also produces Sprout Paper.

Cathie Anderson: 916-321-1193, @CathieA_SacBee

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