Furniture gallery thrives in tough times
- October 30, 2008
The national economy has been in crisis, but employees at Shenandoah Furniture Gallery LLC have been too busy to notice.
The Winchester-based company, which has five employees, makes handcrafted furniture using wood from old barns. In September, sales were up
400 percent from August. That performance helped owners Vickie Kelley and Charlie Funk end their first year in business with revenue of more
than $500,000. “We’ve found that despite everything, people are still spending money,” says Kelley. “What they’re insisting on, though, is
that those dollars are spent on something that’s quality, something that is unique and will last.”
Shenandoah Furniture Gallery fulfills that demand with made-to-order furniture produced by Funk, a master craftsman. The company makes its
furniture in Winchester and sells it in a small showroom in Purcellville. At the showroom, shoppers can select furniture style, wood type,
color, hardware and size, and then place an order with their specifications. Filling an order typically takes four to eight weeks. The most
popular piece that the company sells is a thick-top table crafted from barn flooring.
Shenandoah Furniture Gallery buys its wood from Hunter’s Aged Woods LLC, which tears down old barns and also happens to be owned by Kelley’s
husband, Hunter. “He has other customers where the wood goes through four or five hands before it gets to the retail level, but with us,
there’s no middle man and that is reflected in our prices,” Kelley says.
Shenandoah Furniture Gallery also initiated a wholesale business earlier this year and already has nine standalone stores in three states —
including Country Connections in Stuarts Draft and Brown’s Wood Stuff in Herndon — that are reselling products from its Farmwood Collection
of Aged Wood Furniture.
The success of the wholesale business, in fact, has left Kelley and Funk at a crossroads in terms of their long-term strategy. “We’re up in
the air as to whether we should now grow our wholesale line or our retail business,” she says. “It’s a tough decision, since there are
advantages and challenges to both, but it’s a good dilemma to be in.”