WATCH NOW: Scandinavian design to close after nearly 50 years in business in Kenosha | Local News

Almost 50 years ago, Carmen and Sam Rizzo, the parents of Paul Rizzo, decided to open their own furniture business.

Carmen was an interior designer and Sam, who worked for American Motors, was a handyman, selling real estate and building houses.

With the help of their three children and extended family, Scandinavian Design, 3127 Roosevelt Road, first opened its doors to customers in August 1974.

Paul Rizzo’s collection of photos from the store’s early years includes a group image of the family sitting on the ledge of the storefront. Walking past the store now, it’s hard to see what’s changed in nearly five decades, other than a bit of paint and a giant ‘store closing’ sign.

“It’s bittersweet. My parents were very charismatic, they attracted a lot of people. It was always fun,” Paul said. “But it was their dream.”

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Both of Paul’s parents have since passed away, and after almost a decade of chasing their dream, the doors to the business will close for the last time by the end of the month, 48 years after they opened.

Since 2013, when the store reopened from its “dormant state” during the early 2000s recession, the store has largely only been open on Saturdays. Paul, who lives in Illinois, would come to Kenosha to sell remaining inventory after his father passed away in 2012. His mother died several years earlier, in 2004.

“50 days a year takes a long time at this rate to sell everything,” Paul said with a smile.

Declared at 16

Now in his 60s, Paul was just 16 when the business opened, working with his twin daughter Paulette, who died several years ago, and her sister Renee. Paul worked in delivery and assembly, which he says got him to know Kenosha’s customers and locals. He attended UW-Parkside for accounting, then moved to Chicago, returning to Kenosha on weekends to help out with the store.

“I had a unique opportunity to visit a lot of people in their homes,” Paul said. “You get to talk about their lifestyle and how this furniture complements it.”

Most of the furniture in the two-story store is now gone, leaving a few pieces that Paul said he assembled from leftover parts, and various smaller decorations or leftover equipment that he gave away for free.

“The last time it was this empty was when we opened,” Rizzo said, pointing to the floor of the largely empty showroom.

Retirement plans

Now retired, he plans to travel with his wife once the store closes and perhaps find new hobbies beyond building furniture. As such a long chapter in his family’s history draws to a close, he expressed his thanks to the community his parents served for so many years.

“What I want to pass on, on behalf of my parents, is sincere appreciation and gratitude for all customers,” Paul said. “Thank you so much. We turned 48, and it’s been fun.

The future of the store is uncertain, although Rizzo said he hopes to find a business or community-oriented organization to take over the location.

About Gertrude H. Kerr

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