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Net furniture marketplace closes its doors

UrbanDesign Online, a big-ticket furnishings marketplace, has ceased operations, becoming the latest victim of the shakeout in the online home-furnishings industry.

The online home-furnishings industry is in tatters.

special report: Apart at the seams The latest victim of the dot-com shakeout is UrbanDesign Online, a big-ticket furnishings marketplace that caters to manufacturers, showrooms and designers. A message posted on the Web site said the San Francisco-based company would cease operations Wednesday.

"Despite our efforts to aggressively attract venture funding," the message read, "our status as a B2B marketplace, combined with recent failures of well-known furniture Web sites, has made it impossible to attract funds."

Although no one could be reached for comment at UrbanDesign on Wednesday, those well-known furniture sites the company was probably speaking of include Furniture.com and Living.com, the top two home-furnishing merchants online. Both have gone bust during the past three months.

A third store, HomePortfolio.com, has closed its online furniture store. The company now builds and hosts Web sites, creates online catalogs and performs market research. HomePortfolio's Web site also offers consumer information about home design.

The reason why consumers have shied away from buying furniture online is because most people need to be able to touch and see in person the high-priced items before making a purchase, analysts have speculated.

To make matters worse, both Furniture.com and Living.com earned reputations for fumbling the delivery of items.

Before the two companies closed, scores of customers from both stores complained on Internet message boards that they had either not received their purchases months after they were promised or were shipped the wrong goods.