HISTORY OF J&S APPLIANCE AND HOME FURNISHINGS
We had outgrown the available space by 1988, and began looking for larger retail space, something very hard to find in those days. Finally, in late 1989, we were privately informed that Greenburg Furniture was closing, and all or part of the building at 1442 Commercial St, would be available to us. We secured a portion of the retail space and most of the basement. We refinanced our home for $20,000 of the available equity, using the proceeds for equipment, office furniture, and remodeling. While Jim ran the business at the present location, Shela planned and renovated the new location, so as not to disrupt the flow of business to our customers.
We opened the store front on March 1, 1990, after moving our entire operation in 1 day. The storefront afforded us the visibility we lacked, and helped to establish us as a viable business, apart from Hildebrand Furniture. Our business increased 47% the first year at the new location, and continued to increase. General Electric began soliciting us to sell new appliances right away. We did not feel we had the retail space available to properly launch a line of new White Goods.
In late 1991, the business adjoining our, Marty's Hobbys, approached us regarding his desire to close his business, inquiring if we would be interested in assuming his lease. This would add approximately 1,500 sq ft of retail space, and 6,000 sq ft of warehouse space, on the second floor. We felt this would give us enough storefront retail space to add the new G.E. White Goods.
We made this expansion without the necessity of borrowing. As our customer base grew and our reputation solidified in the sale of new appliances, we began having customers inquiring on a regular bases as to when we planned to expand into furniture and bedding, so they could buy all of their home furnishings from us. While we were quite flattered that their trust in us went so deep, we assured them we had no intentions of expanding into an area in which we were so incapable. However, it seems that the seeds of growth were planted, and with parking becoming an ever growing problem, we periodically pondered, and discussed the move.
While we were contemplating, General Electric implemented a financial proposal for small dealers interested in expansion, or securing their own property. After much research, and searching for property, we submitted a proposal for a building in Warrenton. Our 5 year plan was to build the same square footage, constructing the building in such a way as to use half the building ourselves, and leasing out the other half. We secured a commitment from Nu-Way Carpet, who was looking for a larger, more viable space.
In the fall of 1976 Jim Pierce began attending Lewis and Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho, to receive a degree in Applied Science of Major Appliance and Business.
Early 1977 we began a free appliance removal service, and began reconditioning these appliances for resale, to help support our family during the two years Jim was in college. Shela worked as the head cook at J.C. Penny's restaurant during the day, and helped pick up and clean the appliances as they were repaired. We parted out the appliances which were not repairable, building up our inventory of used parts.
Just before graduation in May 1978, a General Electric representative approached Jim's college professor inquiring if any of their top students possessed the intellect, and maturity to step into an existing business in Okanogen, Washington. His G.E. franchise owner was terminally ill and they couldn't sell or continue in their business.
Within two weeks we had sold our home, relocated to Okanogen, and purchased the business. We then purchased a half acre, built a store front next to our home on the main thorough fare, operating there for five years. In addition to servicing and installing major household appliances, we installed and serviced air conditioning, both residential, and commercial, as well as restaurant equipment. Our reconditioned appliance sales grew tremendously, along with the service industry.
In 1983 one of our foster children, a little girl named Nancy, was in the process of being freed for adoption. The entire family had bonded with this toddler and she was the light of our lives. Due to the type of abuse, and the proximity of her biological family, CSD required she be adopted out of the county. We sold our business, and moved to Spokane, Wa., where we both secured jobs in our field. Sadly, the State opted to let a childless couple adopt her.
In 1984, again at the request of General Electric, and Hildebrands Furniture, we relocated to Astoria, to work for Sullivan Appliance Repair, located at 1033 Commercial St, Astoria, Or; the service was located in the basement of Hildebrands Furniture.
On May 10, 1985, we purchased the business, borrowed $5000 from US Bank for operating expenses, and again began building a good customer base. We built our reputation up by our knowledge, honesty, and going the extra mile for our customers.
"The Name You've Come To Trust."
"Sales! Service! Satisfaction!"
"We guarantee it"
Unbeknownst to us, the loan officer we were working with in Portland jumped ship and took our application with her. No one could find our file, and time was running out on our earnest money. In the process of copying our papers, and trying to re-submit, the errant loan officer contacted us and confessed. Assuring us she could get us a better interest rate, etc, as she had already done the credit check, and the preliminary work, we agreed to proceed due to the time constraint on the proposed property.
While she did get the loan approved in record time, there was a major hurdle. This was to be a SBA loan, and required 70% owner occupancy. Not only was our five year plan pushed to the present; we had to go to Nu-Way, and tell them we couldn't build as planned.
Without the precious commodity of time, we were in the whirlwind of activity. Re-designing the building, making connections regarding furniture, bedding; trying to re-propose projection, planning to go to market, and learn, learn, learn. We secured a commitment from a trusted well known man who had been in the furniture business for 35 years locally, and we felt more secure.
The building progressed, with Jim taking on more responsibility of running the existing business, while Shela oversaw the construction, and put most of her time in developing the new store.
We opened the new store with a new name on November 15, 1997; J&S Appliance and Home Furnishings. Sadly, Jack decided not to become our furniture manager.
This last major expansion was not done in the timeline we would have chosen, having been conservative in all our other expansions. We have made many errors, and learned many lessons, not unlike our first business in the 70's. Thanks God almost all or our errors have been correctable: some in more timely fashion than others.
We are both amazed and appreciative of how we have grown; from the basement of a furniture store, to a furniture store. We are secure in saying there is much more that is right with our business than that which is wrong. Our name, and reputation in this community is one of trust. We endeavor to deal fairly and honestly with each customer. We care about our customers; about their trials, and their victories, their children, and their grandchildren.
We are not a new or fly-by-night company, willing to move on. We will work as hard and as long as it takes to go to the next level. Our ultimate goal is not just to build ourselves an empire. Our goal is to secure a future for our children, and our grandchildren, so that they too may stay her and flourish. Every move we've made, and every hour we've worked has been to that end.
Jim and Shela Pierce