Shop Talk | January 17, 2020 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Eating Out - January 17, 2020

Shop Talk

FOAM SHOP CALLS IT QUITS ... Tallman's House of Foam has ended its reign as downtown Palo Alto's go-to place for foam, upholstery work and mattresses. The longtime shop quietly shuttered during the first week of January. As of Wednesday morning, no one from the shop could be reached for comment. The company's phone mailbox was full and the shop's windows were covered in brown paper. For decades, Tallman's House of Foam at 150 Hamilton Ave. stood as a throwback to a simpler time before startups and tech giants dominated the local landscape. "I know this is unusual to say, but nothing has really changed here since the 1950s. It's just foam. That's all I have," owner Bob Tallman told the Weekly in 2014. Tallman purchased the shop from a family friend in the 1970s and operated the store virtually unchanged for years without a single employee — except his sister. He had a steady following of customers looking to reupholster, restuff and pad everything from inserts for cameras and electronics carrying cases to dining room chairs to cat-shredded couch cushions to Easter Bunny costumes. Even NASA reportedly used the shop's foam for its space shuttles. "Bob was kind and very helpful and patient," a customer wrote on Yelp. Another wrote: "This place was a great source ... extremely professional and excellent work." Tallman told the Weekly in 2014 that most of his competition quit after Hurricane Katrina hit the Louisiana coast in 2005. Prices for foam materials, which are petroleum-based and predominantly refined in Louisiana, escalated by as much as 200% after that, he explained. At that time, the 64-year-old said he had no plans to close shop or retire. "Fortunately, I have a fantastic landlord who keeps this place affordable for me," Tallman said. Customer Elizabeth Lada said she went to the store for the first time to pick up some samples a couple of weeks before the shop had closed. "(I) noticed that the shelves were almost bare, and everything looked quite haphazard — but maybe that's how they had always been," Lada said. "I came back twice the next week — once they had handwritten a sign on the door saying they were closed because they had lost their power. Then, they were suddenly closed." — L.T.

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