Big Chair Disappears, May Be Headed East

The big chair battle may have gotten uglier, or just weirder.

In the early fall of 2006, Lee Williston, owner of Bare-Lee Used Furniture, had an idea. His store on US 19, north of Weeki Wachee, Florida, was difficult to see from the highway. Erecting a big sign would mean paying for a permit. Instead, he had one of his nephews build an 11-foot-tall Adirondack chair, and placed it outside of the store. It worked: Bare-Lee Used Furniture became known locally as the little store with the big chair. Plans were drawn to build a second chair and then a blanket and an end table to create a beach scene, and replace them as each was sold. The price tag on the big chair was $2,000.

Those plans ended in the early morning hours of Saturday, February 3, 2007. The chair vanished.

"There were three of us and nobody noticed," admitted Lita, who works at the store. "That's pretty sad. One of the customers asked, 'You sell your chair?' We said, 'Nah. It's still out there.' But it wasn't.

"Even the cop said, 'I didn't even notice it was gone.'"

The employees and local police were baffled. Lee had failed to anchor the chair, but it was seven feet wide, weighed around 400 pounds, and stood taller that an 18-wheeler. And US 19 is a busy highway, even in the dark hours before dawn. The chair was not an easy thing to steal.

"On that Monday someone called, anonymously," said Lita. "They said that they saw it Sunday after they got out of church going down Route 50, headed east, in the back of a white pickup truck. I don't understand that." Indeed, the chair outside of Bare-Lee Used Furniture would have dwarfed any pickup, and other people surely would have noticed such a sight.

Was the chair nabbed by a jealous competitor, or by a gang of drunk hooligans as Lee believes? If so, how did they accomplish it without being seen? If not, what happened to the chair?

For now, Lee is offering a thousand dollar reward for the chair's return. And he's ordered a full-size replacement, which he says will definitely be bolted to the ground.

Outside of New & Bare-Lee Used Furniture. Southbound side of US 19/Commercial Way about three miles north of Weeki Wachee and the intersection of Hwy 50/Cortez Blvd.
June 2010: Reported gone. (Call to verify)

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