The Times West Virginian

Business

October 27, 2013

Friendly Furniture Galleries marking 35 years

FAIRMONT — Friendly Furniture Galleries Inc. has been offering the Fairmont community a “friendly, homey kind of shopping experience” for 35 years.

The store opened its doors at 205 Adams St. on Oct. 30, 1978. But the business’ roots actually go back about two decades before that.

Louis Spatafore, who owns Friendly Furniture Galleries with his sister Jeanne Marie Higinbotham, explained that his father, Bill, and uncle, Jack, founded the family business in Clarksburg in 1956.

Bill had a small lunch business and also worked at the Friendly Tavern, which Jack owned, in the evenings. The brothers came up with the idea of putting a color television in the pub so they could show the Pabst Blue Ribbon “Friday Night Fights” and fill up the place with people.

They ended up buying three TVs from a distributor and becoming TV dealers. Bill and Jack set up the color TVs with price tags in the pub, and they sold the TVs quickly and had requests for more. As a result, the brothers decided to turn their operations into Jack’s Friendly TV.

They later added appliances, furniture and mattresses, and the business continued to expand.

When Louis was 7 years old, he started helping his father Bill at the store on Second Street in Clarksburg. On Saturdays, he cleaned up the place with a dust rag and mop, earning a paycheck of $2 a week, which he said was a big deal for a kid his age.

From there, Louis learned the business from the ground up, starting from the basics and moving through all the steps to the real decision-making. He worked in the warehouse, drove the delivery truck, serviced appliances, did sales and then went into management.

In July 1978, Friendly Furniture Galleries signed a lease purchase agreement for the former Jones Department Store building in downtown Fairmont.

This historic, five-story, 40,000-square-foot structure is more than 100 years old and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The building features a hand-operated elevator from the 1910s, as well as Fairmont’s first automatic elevator from the mid-1940s, Louis said.

The Spatafore family spent several months cleaning, re-carpeting and repainting the space, which had been vacant for two years, to convert it from a clothing store to a furniture store. The first two floors opened up the first year of business.

When the store opened, Louis was a 21-year-old business student at Fairmont State, with one more year of college to go. He said his dad required that he get a college education if he was going to run the business. Upon graduating in 1979, Louis became full-time manager of the store in Fairmont.

The family officially purchased the building in 1980, and within four years, all five floors were in use. In 1983, the Clarksburg and Fairmont stores were separated between the two families.

Louis said his mother, Philomena Iaquinta Spatafore, was involved in the Fairmont store for many years, and a lot of customers enjoyed working with her. She is now 95 years old.

Over the years, Friendly Furniture Galleries has done a lot of remodeling. In the mid-1990s, the store added a coffee bar, where coffees are brewed, cookies are baked and customers are entertained. Last year, the first floor was completely renovated and all new LED track lighting was installed, Louis said.

At Friendly Furniture Galleries, customers can find many different lines of furniture, from promotionally priced pieces to really special items, he said. The store puts a lot of emphasis on accessories like wall decor, table tops, lamps and other pieces that really make rooms stand out.

Throughout the year, Louis travels to different markets, like High Point, N.C., Atlanta, Ga., and Columbus, Ohio, to look for the latest furniture offerings.

“We want to differentiate our store from what you can get elsewhere,” he said. “We show different types of designs, things that you normally don’t see in every store. I think that sets us apart.”

The business has interior decorators who can help customers choose styles, colors, patterns and accessories that best fit their homes, and also offer advice on projects such as hanging pictures or chandeliers. Friendly Furniture Galleries often works with students in Pierpont Community & Technical College’s Applied Design Program.

The store’s staff of about 12 employees, both full-time and part-time, really show that they care, Louis said.

“We have some good people that work here,” he said. “We take care of our customers. When there’s an issue, service problem, we go all out to make sure it’s corrected.”

Louis’ wife, Deloris, wears many hats at Friendly Furniture Galleries. She manages the coffee bar, oversees the office, works with customers and more.

The couple lives in Fairmont and has been active in the community. They have three grown children, April Lemley, Billy and Angela, and six grandchildren.

Main Street Fairmont helped Friendly Furniture celebrate its 35th anniversary in the Friendly City with a “Main Street Morning” event on Oct. 15 and presented the business with a plaque. The store is also currently having an anniversary sale.

Generations of families have shopped at the Fairmont store, Louis said.

“We’re very thankful that we’re here and that we’ve been patronized by the public well, and look forward to the next 35 years,” he said.

Friendly Furniture Galleries is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Appointments are available in the evenings.

For more information, call 304-366-9113, visit www.friendlyfurniture.com, or find the store on Facebook or Twitter.

Email Jessica Borders at jborders@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.

1
Text Only
Business
  • ‘L-gov’ program of West Virginia Treasurer’s Office providing many benefits

    The “L-gov” program of the West Virginia State Treasurer’s Office is providing many benefits to governmental entities across the state, including the City of Fairmont.
    L-gov, which is an abbreviation for local government, helps cities, towns, school boards, public service districts and other entities process their bills in a streamlined, efficient way.

    July 27, 2014

  • Cardinal Tax Services-JB.jpg Helping people focus of Cardinal Tax Services

    At Cardinal Tax Services LLC, Wendy Cutlip is doing what she enjoys — helping people.
    Cutlip, owner and Registered Tax Return Preparer, opened her new business in White Hall at the beginning of June. It is located in the Mountain Gate Business Park, which is along Route 250 South just past Fabric and Foam and next to the Sunoco.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 22, 2014

  • Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 22, 2014

  • Morgantown’s housing expenses exceed national average

    The housing prices in Morgantown are driving the city’s cost of living above the national average, a new survey reports.
    John Deskins, director of the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics’ Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER), explained that the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) orchestrates data collection in 288 cities across the country.

    July 20, 2014

  • JA Used Furniture-JB.jpg J.A. Used Furniture has valuable variety

    J.A. Used Furniture in Fairmont carries items that people need — all at low prices.
    Owner Ron Dray officially opened the doors of his new business, located at 10 Locust Ave., toward the end of December. He explained that the “J.A.” initials in the store’s name stand for the names of his two granddaughters, Jordan and Adriauna.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Backbone Security, T&T Pump Co. among 37 state companies recognized

    Two Marion County companies were recently celebrated for their continued successes in exporting.
    Backbone Security and T&T Pump Co., both in Fairmont, were among the 37 West Virginia companies that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Cabinet Secretary Keith Burdette, the West Virginia Development Office and the West Virginia Export Council recently acknowledged for expanding their business to new parts of the world. An awards presentation was held in Charleston on June 24.

    July 13, 2014

  • All Things Herbal-JB.jpg All Things Herbal health and wellness shop

    All Things Herbal Local Market is a one-stop, health and wellness shop.
    Owner Christa Blais officially opened her new business in downtown Fairmont at 327 Adams St., across from Veterans’ Square, on June 6 during Main Street Fairmont’s First Friday event.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • 3-D printing continuing to revolutionize manufacturing

    As 3-D printing is revolutionizing manufacturing, the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing continues to stay at the forefront of this technology.
    RCBI has three Advanced Manufacturing Technology Centers, located in Bridgeport, Charleston and Huntington.

    July 6, 2014

  • Blackheart International -JB.jpg Blackheart International bringing high-quality services

    Blackheart International, a firearms manufacturer and provider of logistics and training solutions, is bringing high-quality services to the local community.
    At the beginning of April, the company moved from Philippi, where it had been located since 2005, to its new home in Fairmont.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
NDN Business
House Ads