CLARION – Perhaps one of the secrets to staying in business for 175 years, as Faller’s Furniture and Design in Clarion has done, is adaptability. After all, that business has gone through its share of changes since beginning operations in 1847.
“Fallers started in Fryburg with my great-grandfather building wagons and coffins and making furniture. It evolved into a furniture, funeral home business,” noted Greg Faller, the fourth generation of the Faller family to own the business. “The biggest change in my time was streamlining the business down to just furniture, we also still do custom drapery. When I was growing up we were selling small TVs and pianos, selling appliances, paint, cutting glass. Selling wallpaper was huge back in the day.”
Not only did the nature of Faller’s furniture business change, so did its location — moving from Fryburg to Clarion in 1999.
On that move, Faller said, “A lot of our business had been in Oil City, Seneca, Franklin and Venus. Not so much Clarion; there were always one or two [furniture] stores in Clarion. And then most of those stores [in Clarion] left. We saw the opportunity and so we made the move to Clarion. We decided it was better for business, it was harder and harder to get people to come to Fryburg.
“The Fryburg store is now Fryburg Old Treasures Depot and its an antique store. We have three floors with vendors who display and sell their antiques, collectibles, glassware, jewelry, furniture, books.”
Faller Funeral Home also remains an integral part of the family-business and continues to be located in Fryburg, owned by a fifth-generation Faller, Greg’s son, Adam.
Another change is currently underway, as Faller’s Furniture, a Main Street fixture for the past 20 years, prepares to move into the former Comet Food Warehouse located just south of Clarion in a small business plaza along Fifth Avenue.
“We decided to move for ease of operation management and to give our customers a better shopping experience. Main Street worked well for 20 years, we’ve enjoyed the time we spent there, but all the advantages of going to the plaza outweighed staying,” Faller commented.
He elaborated, “The current store is two stories. Some of our customers have trouble going to the second floor, not to mention after 20 years we’re tired of carrying all the furniture to the second floor. Another big reason is we have our warehouse in Fryburg, moving the product from there to retail [in Clarion]. With the traffic, fuel costs and supply chain issues with furniture, we knew we needed to get everything in one location.
“Moving down to Fifth Avenue will give us a great retail space and we’ll combine the warehouse right there with it. We’ll be about 1,000 square feet bigger, so we’ll be able to show more product and it’ll be a little easier for the customers to move around.”
Turning a former grocery into an outlet that sells furniture took a bit of work, primarily prepping the warehouse area to store furniture instead of food, as well as removing all the existing fixtures, coolers and freezers located in the future showroom.
One problem that won’t bog the transition down is moving furniture from the Main Street store to the new one on Fifth Avenue. Faller doesn’t intend to do that, at least on a large scale; but he is aware of the adage about the best laid plans.
“We don’t really want to move product from the Main Street location to that location if we don’t have to,” he said. “I’m sure we’ll move some. But we are having moving sales for the Main Street location.”
“I want to be able to open up the Fifth Avenue location with all new looks and products. Right now, logistically-wise with the supply chain, it’s trying to have enough furniture so that when we’re ready to open we have [new] product to put there. That’s the biggest hurdle at this point.”
There is presently no exact date as to when the Fifth Avenue location might open. The anticipated timeline, however, ranges from the end of this year to the middle of January 2023.
Faller conceded there is a disadvantage with the move, “One of the bigger disadvantages is not being part of the Main Street business community. Losing being part of that community is probably one of the sad things.”
Though he also added, “That Fifth Avenue corridor has so much traffic, I think the visibility will be as much or more than where we are on Main Street.”
Despite the Main Street location being for sale, Faller vows that the building will not sit empty, even if it isn’t sold before the new store opens.
“The issue that people have had, they’ve said, ‘When you move, there’s going to be another empty storefront on Main Street.’ I have assured them that will not happen. We will keep something in there until a sale and someone can move in. It will not sit empty,” he stated.
Faller indicated that retirement might be on the horizon, which, when it happens, will see another fifth-generation family member, his son, Evan, take over the furniture business. Related to this, he would like to see the business remain open for at least another 25 years, looking ahead to a 200-year anniversary.
Celebrating two centuries of operation is realistic, according to Faller, citing the support that the community has always shown his family and business.
“We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the community, the relationships we’ve built with people and the support they’ve given us,” he said. “Through the years, we’ve twisted and turned and changed to provide a product that we felt was a good product, one that we could stand behind. We are very thankful that the community has supported us. Without the community and their support, we wouldn’t still be in business.”
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