CHESTER – In business since 1985, Chester Furniture is closing its doors for good. Patrons are wondering where they will buy home furnishings in the future.
The store located directly across from Auto Zone has had two owners: Mark Beard and Gary Wright.
On Sunday, a “resignation announcement” was made on Facebook. Patrons were invited to purchase the final inventory, “Everything must go. No reasonable offer will be refused.”
As I drove into the parking lot, furniture was flying out the door. Well, pulled by muscle power in truck beds and trailers.
“We have been dealing with this wonderful company for years. They have quality furniture and great customer service,” said Laurel Rothenberger of Chester. “Twenty people were in line ahead of us before they opened the door this morning.”
Customers scattered around the showroom looking for something to grab before someone else took it. It had a “Happy” theme vibe… “Where everyone knows your name. And, they’re always glad you came.”
I noticed Kimberly Lewis, owner of Suit Up Poker, who I featured in a story years ago. She was quick to share her feelings about closing the family-owned business.
“I’m extremely sad. I’ve been buying furniture here for 22 years … kitchen, den, bedroom, living room,” said Lewis of Prince George.
After having her sofa for 11 years, Lewis was ready for something different. She stopped by, found one she liked and bought it.
“Gary’s customer service is the best, bar none. You will never get the same anywhere else,” said Lewis. “He would do custom orders. If he didn’t have what I was looking for in the showroom, he’d find it in a catalog.”
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Chester Furniture Family
Phillip Jarratt from Hopewell left on his own when he was 17 and started working at Chester Furniture. He stayed for 37 years with them to experience the family atmosphere.
“We’re like brothers. We grew up together,” Phillip Jarratt said. “I don’t know what I will do now.”
Three other employees will be in the same boat hoping to find jobs that feel like home.
For three years, Ashley Jarratt followed in her father’s footsteps selling furniture, mattresses and home accessories. She returned to lend a hand until Chester Furniture closes for good.
Ashley Jarratt pointed to a portrait of a woman at the checkout counter and said: “My sister Mary Elizabeth was named after her. She was the longest ‘female’ presence here and kept everyone in check.”
The late Mary Elizabeth “Liz” Daul worked at Chester Furniture for 30 years.
Chester Furniture Facebook friends
“I am devastated! I will miss my sweet friends Mark and Gary. You have been so good to our family and friends over the years,” commented Shari Smith Rumble. “Thank you for everything, and God bless you in all that you do. You will all be missed.”
“So sorry to hear that. My whole house is from Chester Furniture. I still have two leather recliners that are good … over 25 years old. No rips. No tears. Great condition,” commented Tammy Jessen. “I met Gary and Mark over 25 years ago while I was working at a local law firm and have never shopped anywhere else.”
“It breaks my heart. My house could serve as a second showroom for them. I have bought so many from them for over 25 years,” commented Linda Winger. “Always great to work with and great customer service. Have a great retirement!”
“So sad to see this wonderful place close. I have furnished my house from here. Two bedrooms, three living rooms,” commented Deborah Crawley Catoe. “Phillip, Marty and Gary always made you feel as welcome as an old friend, time to sit and talk. You will be missed, but I hope your retirement is all you deserve.”
“It breaks my heart that this is happening. Over 30 years of buying from everyone, both my people and myself,” commented Katharine Frangopoulos. “Sad end for a family shop.”
“Frehim. Love this place and these people. Gary and Mark have always been the best guys,” commented Christy Bryant Parrish. “I’m sorry to see them go, but I know they’ve worked hard for many years. Happy retirement guys!”
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“It’s bad … when you move to the beach, but you can’t go to the beach because you’re working remotely,” Wright said.
The desire to retire wasn’t the only reason Chester Furniture will close for good. The decision was made partly because of the pandemic which caused increased prices and waiting periods.
“Special orders used to take 10 months to a year, but that’s getting better,” Wright said. “However, the prices have not.”
Chester Furniture is at 351 E. Hundred Rd. The sale is tomorrow 10:00-20:00, Saturday 10:00-18:00 and Sunday 12:00-17:00 For more information, follow them on Facebook.
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— Kristi K. Higgins aka the Social Butterfly columnist is the trending food topics and Q&A reporter at The Progress-Index. Got a news tip about trends or local businesses? Contact Kristin (she, her) at email@example.com, follow up @KHiggins_PI on Twitter @socialbutterflykristi on Instagram.
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