Rocker Feller : Business: Matt Bearman’s specialty store fills a niche for customers ranging from expectant parents to those with a nostalgic bent for rocking chairs.
Whistler’s Mother would be proud of Matt Bearman.
Bearman is the owner of 100% Rocking Chair, a store true to its name. The business sells nearly every type of rocker imaginable, from wrought-iron Mexican designs and 1880s antiques to miniature zebras. In addition to traditional oak rockers, there are black leather gliders, a rocking stegosaurus, woolly lamb and saddled pony.
It seems that no one can resist a rock in a rocking chair, Bearman said.
“We charm people with a roomful of rockers and it puts them in a good mood no matter what kind of people they are in the outside world,” he said.
A bounty of fruity rockers--bananas, watermelons and grapes--and a flock of rocking swans, bears and elephants, cram the 2,000-square-foot showroom at 300 S. La Brea Ave. A mini biplane in polished pine can handle tykes, and an oversized beauty of willow twigs might embrace the whole family.
For the nursery, rocking love seats have rose-patterned cushions that are treated to resist stains. A burgundy-stained maple rocker with hand-carved peacocks features a rocking footstool, and a handcrafted oak glider with delicate floral etchings dates back to 1880.
For those with modern tastes, there is a sleek rocker with a woven black-and-white checkered seat and back, created by Nichols & Stone, who have been making rockers since 1857.
But almost nothing compares with the soothing touch of a rocker that has rollers to massage your back while the chair is rocked back and forth.
“You definitely wouldn’t go to a shoe store that had only three pairs of shoes,” Bearman said. “I thought we would have a couple of winners and the rest would serve just as window dressing for ambience. But as it turns out, we’ve sold a couple of just about every style in the store.”
Prices range from about $50 to $1,500. The store also offers custom chairs tailored to the customer’s body. Prices for these chairs reach $5,000, Manager Ayessa Rodies said.
Bearman, a former assistant film director who worked on “Back to the Future” and “War of the Roses,” was led to the business when he was searching for a baby shower gift.
“I organized my brothers to go in on a rocker and then discovered what a career it is to find a decent one in L.A.,” said Bearman, a Yale graduate in history who never planned to work in retailing.
“I was encouraged further by the fact that all my friends who were having kids wanted rockers,” said Bearman, 33. “With all the baby showers, it just seemed like a natural.” Having grown tired of his hectic show-biz lifestyle, Bearman borrowed $32,000 from relatives and friends to open his store.
One day recently, the soulful tunes of Ray Charles wafted through the air as customers sipped coffee, soda and mineral water. Expectant parents tried out chairs while holding baby “Pilaf,” an 11-pound bag of rice wrapped in a fuzzy pillowcase.
Customer Roger Lim, 31, drove all the way from Monrovia, he said, because of the selection of gliders. His wife, Stacey, is pregnant with their first child and wanted a glider for nursing, Lim said. Customers often reminisce about their favorite childhood rockers, according to the salespeople.
“We tend to rock up their memories a bit,” sales clerk Audrey Martin said.