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After 72-year-long history: W.L.Nelson business liquidating in Yarmouth

Owner retiring, building up for sale

YARMOUTH - A family furniture business that has been operating for 72 years in Yarmouth is closing its store and the owner is retiring. The building, located at 22 John St., is up for sale.

Robert Nelson has managed W.L.Nelson since his father Jim, passed away in April 2016. His mother Ann owns the business and says she is looking forward to relaxing. 

There’s a lot of family history inside these walls. Robert’s great-great-grandfather Walter Nelson began the business in 1946. The property was previously occupied by a second-hand store and barber shop. Walter started off by selling records, record players and radios. He also offered refrigeration repair.

The business expanded in 1955, adding the space once occupied by Creasers taxi lunch as well as an alleyway on the east side of the building. It grew from 300 square feet to a space that could now display a new product line: furniture.

Another expansion took place in 1993 and then one more in 1998.

Walter’s son Robert (Bob) Nelson, took over from him, followed by Bob’s son, Jim. The store was inherited by Ann Nelson after Jim passed away.

Ann says she remembers entering the store as a little girl and climbing the stairs.

“I remember because they’re the same stairs I went up to buy my first bike when I was five-years-old. Those are Douglas Fir stairs, she says.”

Many will remember the spectacular blaze that occurred on April 11, 2013, in Yarmouth. Five departments responded to a fire in the W.L.Nelson warehouse on Waverly Street. The structure and all its contents were destroyed.

Robert Nelson says business has been extremely good in recent years, after he implemented a number of improvements. Competition, including online sales, drove him to make more changes to increase efficiency.

“Basically it meant bringing things up to speed, getting proper Internet, getting the website up and running… that was really huge for us. We have a large website,” he says.

He also changed some of the older financing options.

“The store was owed a lot of money by customers so I had to change a few things,” he says.

Although the 16,500-square-foot business was listed for sale on the private market, he says there wasn’t a lot of interest, because of its magnitude.

“We decided we would liquidate and try to sell the building in the process,” he says.  

The sale, which will start at 10 a.m. on Nov. 14, will run until everything’s sold down to the bare walls, he says.

“The best case scenario would be the end of December, more than likely it will be the middle of January,” says Nelson.

In the old days

W.L. Nelson was the first company in Yarmouth to carry a RCA black and white television, this was before there were even channels in Canada, but on a good day you could receive the channels from the U.S. They were also the first company to introduce a RCA television in Yarmouth.

W.L.Nelson website

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