Last month, Troy Halterman, who pioneered the vintage-Danish-furniture craze, suddenly shut up shop, leaving interior designers out thousands of dollars. They found a note on his store’s Website saying that customers should “contact manufacturers directly,” only to learn that the makers had never received final payments. So what happened? One friend speculated darkly that he was “battling demons” in his personal life. But Halterman, speaking from vacation with his kids in the south of France, said he was just overextended in a changing market: He said his Madison Avenue showroom cost $34,000 a month, while new competitors like Design Within Reach were eating into his profits. As for why he ditched longtime clients, “Even spending a week letting people know I was going out of business costs money,” he says. “I had to cut it off within hours” once he knew for sure he had to close. “I didn’t get into this as a moneymaking scenario,” he says. His financial adviser calls the business “insolvent.”
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