Portland Home & Garden Show features vendors, designers, demos
The Portland Home & Garden Show — the first and largest show of its kind in Oregon for the past 60 years — will be held Feb. 18 to 22 at the Expo Center in Portland, Ore. With more than 300,000 square feet of display space, more than 1,000 booths and 18 designer gardens, this show is focused on the homeowner and gardener.
Some highlights of the 62nd annual show include Showcase Gardens, sponsored by Fred Meyer, with 18 displays featuring new designs, color trends, green and sustainable materials and plants of special interest; a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Pendleton Woolen Mills; and the Ideabox, billed as “the ultimate in small house living.”
In addition, the event will feature the Home Depot Do-It-Yourself Stage, where Home Depot representatives will help attendees become more skilled at home-based projects. And representatives of Outdoor Kitchen World will create “the ultimate outdoor utopia” at the show with pergolas, lighting, outdoor bars, cooking areas and furniture.
Sales plunge at 84 Lumber
84 Lumber has reported another year of steep revenue declines, ending 2008 with $2.1 billion in annual sales, a $1 billion drop from reported sales of $3.1 billion in 2007. The previous year, 2006, the company posted revenues of $3.92 billion.
The chain of privately held lumberyards got considerably smaller this year after several rounds of closings and consolidations. The company started the year with 425 units, but by the end of April that number was down to 368 stores and 13 component manufacturing facilities. In October, following more closings, 84 Lumber shuttered 29 stores in 14 states bringing the pro dealer’s total store count down to 335 units in 37 states.
The number of locations remaining today, according to 84 Lumber, is 319 lumberyards and six component plants. The head count, which went from 10,500 in 2007 to 9,500 at the beginning of 2008, now stands at 4,900 employees.
In related news, officials at 84 Lumber have met with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development about debt financing, according to the Associated Press and other media outlets.
A spokesperson for the department confirmed that 84 Lumber representatives “were interested in seeing what DCED has to offer.”
“We will have no further comment about speculative issues,” said Jeff Nobers, vp-marketing and public relations.
Last April, 84 Lumber entered into two new five-year financing packages, allowing it to borrow up to $590 million. At the time, company president Maggie Hardy Magerko said that the loans, arranged through Sun Trust Bank and Wachovia Bank, contained no earnings covenants.
Lobbying groups push for the right stimulus
As the massive economic stimulus proposal continues to wind its way through the corridors of power in Washington, D.C., tax breaks and tax holidays took prominence.
The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) applauded the adoption of a home buyer tax credit amendment to the Senate’s version of the pending economic stimulus legislation. Meanwhile, the National Retail Federation (NRF) called for a consumer tax holiday and said the current stimulus plan should do more for consumers.
The home buyer tax credit amendment, introduced by Sens. Johnny Isakson (Republican-Ga.) and Joseph Lieberman (Independent-Conn.), was added Wednesday night by a voice vote of the United States Senate.
The amendment would provide a direct tax credit to any home buyer who purchases any home. The amount of the tax credit would be $15,000 or 10 percent of the purchase price, whichever is less.
Under the proposal, purchases must be made within one year of the legislation’s enactment, and the tax credit would not have to be repaid.
The amendment would allow taxpayers to claim the credit on their 2008 income tax return.
“NLBMDA applauds the adoption of the Isakson-Lieberman amendment and thanks the Senators for their leadership on this issue,” said NLBMDA president and CEO Michael O’Brien. “We believe, if adopted in the final stimulus package, the tax credit could go a long way toward reviving the housing economy by encouraging more home purchases, creating new jobs and restoring consumer confidence in the housing market.”
Meanwhile, the NRF yesterday told the Senate that the economic stimulus legislation under consideration fails to do enough for consumers and repeated its call for a series of national sales tax holidays intended to jumpstart spending.
“While the legislation currently under consideration includes a number of provisions designed to produce long-term economic growth and job creation, we are extremely concerned that it does not do enough to immediately stimulate consumer spending or to preserve the tens of millions of jobs that consumer spending supports,” NRF senior vp Steve Pfister said. “With consumer spending representing two-thirds of GDP, it is difficult if not impossible to foresee an improvement to overall economic growth until consumers regain confidence and resume spending.”