The Times West Virginian

November 18, 2012

Friendly Furniture plans reopening, ribbon cutting

By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — The New Friendly Furniture Galleries is continuing to provide great products and service to customers.

The family business, located at 205 Adams St. in downtown Fairmont, has recently been busy making some minor changes to its building and bringing in new merchandise. The store will be shut down for a week to complete this work, and will reopen this Saturday for a grand opening.

“What our goal is is to provide more selection with more value,” said co-owner Lou Spatafore. “Anytime you upgrade and you bring a fresh new product to the marketplace, you have to succeed.”

He owns the store with his brother Theodore and sister Jeanne Marie Higinbotham, who aren’t active in the business today. Spatafore’s wife Deloris is the receptionist and also manages the coffee bar, which features different flavors that are ground fresh daily.

Spatafore explained that his father Bill, who passed away in 1999, started the business in Clarksburg in the ’50s with his brother. They sold appliances, furniture and mattresses, and the business continued to grow. The location in Fairmont was established Oct. 30, 1978.

Bill’s brother passed away, and the business separated between the two families in 1983, which was when Friendly Furniture became an independent store.

“We’re a hometown store,” Spatafore said.

The business originally operated on two of the five floors of the Adams Street building, which previously housed the old Jones Department Store, and the upper floors were used for warehousing, he said. By 1983, Friendly Furniture had expanded to four of the floors, and a couple years later the fifth floor was also opened up as retail sales space.

Over the years, the business has done some remodeling from floor to floor. The last major remodeling took place in 1995, which brought the store up to the latest technology as far as the floor design and lighting, Spatafore said.

He said he recently examined the shop and realized that it looked dated and needed some small changes and new inventory.

“We’re not doing any major remodeling,” Spatafore said. “What’s in place works, but it’s time to freshen everything up.”

He decided to change the lighting throughout the store, replacing the lights that had a greenish tint and were getting dim with LED lights that are best suited for furniture. While this project was pretty expensive initially to cover the shop’s 35,000 square feet of showroom space, the new lights should last about 10 years and will save money over time, Spatafore said.

The store temporarily closed Saturday so professional painters could start repainting the space in colors that are popular with the fabrics, wood tones and furniture being sold today, he said. The crews will also lay some new floor covering in areas and give the building a good cleaning.

A grand reopening and ribbon-cutting celebration is scheduled for this Saturday, Nov. 24, at 10 a.m. With all these changes, the store will also take on a new name — the New Friendly Furniture Galleries.

Saturday’s event will include refreshments and door prizes. A set of bedding from Serta and a reclining chair from Southern Motion will be given away, as well as other items. Friendly Furniture will make a special donation to the United Way.

Spatafore invited all the business’ good friends and customers to stop by.

He said he’s hoping his 94-year-old mother Philomena, who has been in the hospital, will be able to attend the grand opening. Many people who have shopped at the store will remember her from when she sold on the floor.

Friendly Furniture is bringing in several new lines of furniture.

Spatafore said the Custom Dining Program from Bassett gives people a lot of choices for chairs, tables and cabinets and all the different finishes, from light to dark. The store is expanding its leather furniture with items from Parker House out of California, and had added to its selection of reclining furniture through Mississippi-based Southern Motion.

To make room for all the new items, Friendly Furniture started a sale at the end of August to try to get rid of a lot of its existing furniture at record prices.

The business currently has one sales person and plans to hire three more people to help out with the operations, Spatafore said.

In terms of future plans, Friendly Furniture intends to remove all the plywood from the outside of its windows, he said. The plywood has been there since the ’50s or ’60s, before the store moved into the building, and interior walls were built over the windows.

Spatafore said this extensive project will probably be done in the spring or summer. The store will also get a new sign to reflect its new name.

Friendly Furniture takes pride in the fact that it offers quality products and superb customer service, he said.

“We have so many repeat customers and generations of customers,” Spatafore said. “After 30 years, you see the kids that grow up become the customers and even their kids are starting to shop here.”

For more information, call the New Friendly Furniture Galleries at 304-366-9113.

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