Rosenthal Contemporary Interiors, a high-end home furnishings business that's been in the Twin Cities since the late 1800s, is closing its two stores.
Following a year-and-a-half hiatus from the business when she underwent three unexpected surgeries, owner Rosie Rosenthal decided it was time to retire.
"I realized there was another world out there," said Rosenthal, who took full ownership in 1999 after acquiring shares of other family members and pivoted the business into selling more modern furniture. "I absolutely love what I do, and I love that I worked with my family for years, but it's getting tougher. It's tougher to get really good employees that want to learn and stay."
Rosenthal added she has not decided an exact closing date yet for the two Twin Cities locations: the original Rosenthal Furniture store at 22 N. Fifth St. in downtown Minneapolis and the showroom in Minnetonka near Ridgedale Center mall that opened in spring 2021.
Items are significantly marked down as part of a total sell-off of the company's inventory, and both locations have extended hours from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Sunday hours remain 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
In addition to the furniture, Rosenthal is also selling its 17,000 square-foot building right by the Warehouse District/Hennepin Avenue light rail stop. Valued at $1.73 million, per the most recent property tax assessment in January 2022, the building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
This is yet another century-old business that's shuttered this year in downtown Minneapolis. Upscale men's clothing store Hubert White closed its only location in the IDS Center on Nicollet Mall in August after 107 years in business.
Rosenthal's brother, Joel Lebewitz, joined her in running the business in 2020 after retiring from a 45-year career in accounting. Their parents, Sherm and Bobbie Lebewitz, owned the business before them. The brother and sister's great-grandparents, Aaron and Rose Rosenthal, founded the business in 1895.
"I want to say thank you to Rosie Rosenthal for having her business here in the downtown area," said Adam Duininck, chief executive of the Minneapolis Downtown Council. "It's been a huge pillar in the downtown area. Losing her is unfortunate and too bad, and I wish her well in her retirement."
The siblings previously told the Star Tribune how sales at the downtown location had decreased, mostly because of competition from lower-priced suburban chain stores and repeat customers' reluctance to journey downtown. At its peak, the business was doing about $4 million in annual sales, but that had declined by about half in recent years.
During the pandemic, the store shifted from predominantly special order to selling furniture off the floor at closeout prices. The owners also leased some space to a company that makes CBD products.
Potential buyers for the downtown building include restaurant operators, other retailers and those interested in using it for an event space, said Lebewitz, who's privately handling the sale of the building his grandfather purchased in 1959. Because of the building's historic status, "there's only so many changes that can be performed to the outside of the building," Lebewitz said.
"It's an interesting space," he said. "It's near Target Center. It's near Target Field. It's near the bars and restaurants up and down First Avenue, which is why I don't think it'll be a furniture store for anybody else."