SIDNEY – Furniture Express is celebrating a quarter century of business in downtown Sidney, a milestone General Manager Dave Goodwin said was only possible thanks to customer loyalty and trust.
Competing against larger retailers and the rise of internet shopping, Furniture Express has depended on getting repeat business from its customer base in Sidney and Shelby County to remain in business the past 25 years.
“Our biggest, No. 1 advertising thing that works the best is word of mouth,” Goodwin said. “We want to thank all of the customers over the past 25 years. Our customers are who made us.”
While word of mouth has been Furniture Express’ top advertising vehicle, the store did have television advertisements in the ’90s – ads it has shared on its Facebook page this summer.
“That would be us building the store. So that was the beginnings of us doing that, and that’s done well. We’ve had a lot of response,” said Goodwin, who starred in the commercials alongside Steve Springer. “The nostalgia is good. People sometimes just like to see what the old used to look like.”
A lot has changed since those early days of Furniture Express as advances in technology have fueled changes in shopping habits.
“There’s a lot less stress on things like curio cabinets; those just aren’t usually sold as much anymore,” Goodwin said. “Even desks are not sold as much anymore. Technology, more people are doing everything in the living room. They have air printers, they have their cellphones, they have their tablets, so they don’t necessarily need to go into an actual place where they have a desk. More people are able to do the business right where they’re at so technology has changed furniture in the sense that it’s made us see things on a more personal level and people want more convenience.”
Furniture now has more available features than ever with recliners that include options such as adjustable headrests, lights and arms that open. Some customers like the new conveniences while others prefer the basic models.
Other technological advances allow customers to shop from a digital catalog that lets them to load furniture on their phones and view available options before making a purchase. The digital offerings are a nice compliment to the business, but the physical store with its displays remains an important part of Furniture Express.
“They can actually touch it versus if they’re going to order something on the internet they can’t touch it,” Goodwin said. “Brick and mortar businesses are important because the customer gets to actually try the furniture out or they get to actually touch, they actually get a chance to sit in it.”
While Furniture Express isn’t as large as some other retailers, Goodwin said, it still offers a wide range of products from major brands including Ashley, Klaussner and Best at affordable prices. The selection along with treating customers like family is what allows the business to compete against larger retailers, he said.
“It makes for a different shopping experience. We’re not the big box store,” he said. “You’re going to have a very personal feel here at Furniture Express, and that’s what’s kept us here for 25 years.”
Before Furniture Express opened in 1994, the location at 120 E. Poplar St. in downtown Sidney was a department store. The store prides itself on keeping a retail establishment in downtown and still has the elevator that was used in the department store.
“Even though we’ve done a makeover of the store, we’ve redone some things, updated it, with our updates we have in some ways still embraced the history of the store itself,” Goodwin said. “It has a lot of history. It’s over 100 years old, and it was a department store. Most people remember Uhlman’s Department Store, and a lot of the people that come in have memories of that.”
Furniture Express has two floors of display space along with a third floor for warehousing, allowing it to store furniture until buyers are ready for it.
The space has been beneficial for Furniture Express, Goodwin said, and he anticipates the downtown location will continue to be an asset for the business.
“What we’re finding out is people like storefronts,” he said. “They want to walk in a storefront, they want to be able to have people that can interact with them so what we’re seeing is that shopping itself has changed.”
Furniture Express is celebrating its 25th anniversary with an anniversary sale. It’s also hosting a Black Friday in July promotion this month.
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