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Creator’s Foam & Futon in Santa Rosa to close after nearly 40 years

Creator’s Foam, a do-it-yourselfer’s dreamland since 1981, prepares to shutter at month’s end.

A million reasons draw all sorts of people — homeowners and RV roamers and anyone who sits on cushions or sleeps on mattresses — into a custom-cut foam shop.

For patrons of a Santa Rosa store that since 1981 has celebrated the myriad marvels of polyurethane foam, sadly, there are a million and one reasons to drop in before the end of July.

Having struggled financially for some time and been dealt a final blow by the pandemic, Creator’s Foam Shop is closing for good.

“I wish there was a way out of this,” lamented owner Erin Leonard, who found her bliss working with people who enter her Industrial Drive shop with a boggling array of projects, problems, brilliant ideas and questions.

“I love it,” Leonard, 70, said from beneath a row of great beanbags that hang from the ceiling like figs of the gods. “I get to work puzzles all day long, and help people all day long.”

One day last week, a man found a foam sheet and remnants that he was satisfied would aptly cushion and protect an electronic gizmo that he’s shipping to Asia.

A couple of women carried in an outdoor cushion they’d purchased elsewhere and that after a few seatings had cratered like a failed cake because the foam inside was cheap.

Another patron needed foam for a bench in some sort of camper. Another wanted a foam pad that she could hide away and then pull out for an overnight guest to sleep on.

Foam has been life for Leonard, who got her start in the business by sewing pillow covers and such at home in 1974. Two years later, with three partners, she opened Creator’s Foam in Petaluma.

She said a good many customers have long come in for health-related products. Among them: foam wedges that elevate a person’s legs in bed for better blood circulation, and specially cut cushions for people for whom sitting after long stints — think orchestra musicians — becomes painful.

Leonard thought her shop’s role in carrying a selection of health and comfort items would have qualified it to stay open as an essential business when shelter-in-place orders came in March. Local authorities disagreed. Creator’s Foam went dark.

The sudden disappearance of patrons and sales revenue was more than the shop could bear.

The business, which once operated three stores and employed 23 people, is now down to its last few workers and had struggled financially on and off since 2001. It was set back by crises and economic downturns, and the online bed-in-a-box trend hasn’t done it any favors.

So the pandemic wasn’t entirely to blame, but it proved the final straw.

Unable to pay its bills, Creator’s Foam is set to close on July 31.

Leonard expects she’ll miss more than anything her customers, then all of the projects and needs and brainstorms that brought them in the door for decades on end.

Leonard is saying a lot of good-byes to believers in foam these days. She said, “I stopped counting the ones who are crying.”

You can contact Chris Smith at 707-521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.

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