After decades downtown, Tallman's House of Foam calls it quits | News | Palo Alto Online |

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After decades downtown, Tallman's House of Foam calls it quits

'Nothing has really changed here since the 1950s,' owner said in 2014 interview

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 in 2005. Prices for foam materials, which are petroleum-based, have escalated by as much as 200% since then, 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.

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Comments

29 people like this
Posted by Burisma Joe
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 15, 2020 at 10:18 am

Bob’s one of the good guys. I bought many hot tub covers from him over the years. Always friendly service and a good price.

Best wishes, Bob! Hale and farewell!


14 people like this
Posted by Jan
a resident of Portola Valley
on Jan 15, 2020 at 11:51 am

Not surprised, but bummed. Certainly a one of a kind - unique in every way.


11 people like this
Posted by CrabbyCat
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 15, 2020 at 11:55 am

I had cushions refoamed by Tallman’s sons a few years ago and was totally not impressed by their failure to replicate the original shape of the foam which I brought with me into the shop. I got the feeling that the sons did not have a strong passion for the work. They gave me very squared foam cushions, tho the original foam I dropped off at the shop was rounded.

I refoamed the rest of my cushions on my own with what turned out to be a higher quality foam, cut it with an electric turkey knife to achieve the original rounded shape - this was not hard, and I actually ended up using the original thick poly wrap to bring my cushions back to the appearance and comfort that they originally were. If you want something done right, I guess you have to do it yourself.

Regardless of my experience, it’s always sad to see a long time institution close and I hope the Tallman family finds meaningful work elsewhere.


6 people like this
Posted by sherber
a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 15, 2020 at 12:09 pm

Does anyone know where we can buy foam for cushions now?


7 people like this
Posted by porter
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 15, 2020 at 12:13 pm

It's sad to say goodbye to a wonderful store run by the type of person who always gave you individual attention. Another goner that comes to mind is Peninsula Hardware. Too bad age and retirement now get in the way of keeping businesses open.

Bob always took back and recycled clean, unused foam. Where can I get this service now?

Also he had many densities and varieties of foam. Who carries this anymore?





5 people like this
Posted by Sad news
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2020 at 12:17 pm

I was just thinking about reupholstering my dining room chairs which have rounded foam seats that badly need replacement. Where can I get that foam now and where can I recycle the old foam? Any ideas, friends?

Thanks, in advance!


31 people like this
Posted by @Crabbycat... (no) thanks for the memories
a resident of another community
on Jan 15, 2020 at 1:15 pm

@Crabbycat - really nice of you to bring up your personal bad experience about a business that has satisfied the majority of its customers for decades, when you go to a funeral to bring up all the bad memories you have of the deceased? I would suspect so. You are aptly named.


5 people like this
Posted by Lenore
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 15, 2020 at 1:26 pm

I met Bob about 1970 after mivimv to Palo Alto. He help me do many a project my home over the years.. To this day, I drove by and smile at the sign FOAM and there is no technology
Bob - whateer you deccide to do and live --- there are many who will think of you fondly and remember your guidance to do a project

Wishful thinking the the new tenant leave the sign an a vital decades old business in Palo Alts


4 people like this
Posted by Lenore
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 15, 2020 at 1:28 pm

oops - need computer glasses - for typos


6 people like this
Posted by LKA
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 15, 2020 at 1:54 pm

Lived in Sunnyvale in the 60’s and 70’s and House of Foam was the place to go for the pellets to fill our bean bag chairs.


2 people like this
Posted by Nancy Neff
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 15, 2020 at 1:55 pm

Try foamorder.com. They are in Richmond.

The brothers did a nice job on latex foam seat cushion wedges for me, just in December. I got lucky!


2 people like this
Posted by Formerly Duveneck/St. Francis
a resident of another community
on Jan 15, 2020 at 2:50 pm

I’m no longer in Palo Alto, but fondly remember the House of Foam--from buying the filling for beanbag chairs (@LKA) to dropping off old foam for recycling. Blessings to Mr. Tallman and to that “fantastic landlord” who helped him serve the community so long.


3 people like this
Posted by Hairball
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 15, 2020 at 3:07 pm

Sad to see them go. Nice people. Gave downtown a small-town feeling, which was nice. Thank you also to the landlord that kept things affordable for a traditional business in a non-traditional town and enabled them to stay as long as they did.


3 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 15, 2020 at 4:19 pm

Oh my, I just cannot figure out why a business that wants to charge many hundreds of dollars for a simple seat cushion or mattress, and justified it by saying the price of oil is at an all time high, which it isn't, wouldn't be thriving.

Seems like HOF made a living gouging people who had nowhere else to do for top dollar. I guess you can call that a business or service. ( not a very good one )

I can join people who lament the loss of local businesses from Internet competition, but in some cases, there is more competition and better service from the Internet.

Not a happy potential-customer of HOF. Buh-bye.


11 people like this
Posted by :-(
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2020 at 4:51 pm

NOOOOOOO!!!!!

Spouse is a NASA employee who regularly gets stuff from House of Foam. Frys, HoF, Keeble & Shuchat -- less opportunity now, this is not just about convenience.


10 people like this
Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2020 at 6:59 pm

Wow, some of you are harsh. When someone dies, what do you say? His store has closed, no need for reviews or dissing.

I shopped there in the past for my Halloween costumes. It was nice to be able to see the materials vs. ordering online and the owner was SO nice. Best wishes to him.


1 person likes this
Posted by CrabbyCat
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 15, 2020 at 9:50 pm

My impression was that HOF received lots of business. Customers came and went while I was there and my 2 cushions took over a month to get done.

Of course HOF had to charge a lot to be profitable and people here can usually afford it.

For some reason I thought they owned their building, but from the article it sounds like not, which is unfortunate.



1 person likes this
Posted by Becky Sanders
a resident of Ventura
on Jan 16, 2020 at 4:31 pm

Aw we'll miss ya, house of foam. We've brought our foam there for everything from home improvement to school projects to Halloween costumes. Thanks for giving us a soft place to land all these years.


5 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 16, 2020 at 7:21 pm

Comments by the store owner precluded the usual "greedy landlord" vitriol which occurs in the case when a site closes.


6 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 16, 2020 at 10:43 pm

My dad created Martorana's House of Foam and cherished the many patrons and friends he made running the store for many years. After this passing it was sold to Tallman. Every now and then as I drive by I remember the many hours of joy the store brought to my dad and his customers and am glad that the Tallman's kept the spirit of what was established many years ago. Thank you all for your patronage throughout the years.


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