Furnishings, flooring, all in the family businessSo what makes a house a home? Most people would agree the list includes furniture.
By: Debbie Griffin, River Falls Journal
So what makes a house a home? Most people would agree the list includes furniture.
Everyone can relate to a favorite, fluffy chair or ottoman; a dreamy mattress; a multi-purpose dining table; light from a favorite lamp; and the flooring, carpet, drapes or color scheme that give homes and businesses personality.
H&F Home Furnishings celebrates this fall 30 years of helping people make their house into a home, as well as serving people’s business and commercial needs.
Mary (Feyereisen) Helmer, along with brothers Jeff, Jim, Greg and Randy Feyereisen, co-own and work at the business.
Their parents bought the store in 1982, with most of kids working and hanging around there most of their lives.
The kids’ father began as an installer, then bought the business with another then-employee of the store. Their mother worked at the former Lund’s Hardware before they bought the family business.
Helmer can remember having a work release in high school to do furniture sales, later moving into all aspects of the business.
She said the family members have been in River Falls all their lives. The store is still in its original location. The five siblings aren’t the only longtime employees.
Ellsworth native Chris Gervais has worked at H&F for 25 years; Shannon Gustafson, who customers usually see when they come in, graduated high school in New Richmond and has worked at H&F for 10 years.
Helmer said, “Turnover here just hardly happens.”
Helmer says H&F carries everything for the home from floor to ceiling, except for wall paint.
Inside the store, shoppers will find sofas and loveseats; dining, accent, kitchen, coffee and end tables; mattresses, box springs, and bedframes including bunk beds, futons and baby cribs; overstuffed and reclining chairs; desks and office items; vanities, dressers, nightstands; and a variety of accessories such as lamps, wall-art pieces, table-top décor, mirrors and other items.
Helmer said accessories have grown in popularity and been good for business -- they give people a way to make changes without spending a lot.
The business also offers a series of items to create an in-closet storage system.
Flooring runs several generations deep in the Feyereisen family, “My grandfather was a flooring installer,” Helmer said.
H&F sells, measures for, and installs carpet, vinyl and luxury vinyl, laminate, ceramic tile and hardwood, as well as blinds and other window coverings. Co-owner Jeff is H&F’s field consultant who supervises installation jobs.
The company emphasizes the importance of using professional, experienced installers for any flooring or window-covering project -- the low-priced installation specials often involve drawbacks.
In one case, H&F fixed a project in which the tile was laid, but afterward the door wouldn’t shut.
Helmer shares a few of the business’ challenges, which include advertising strategy -- when and where to place it -- and competing with “big box” furniture stores, especially ones that offer super-cheap sets and pieces. The deals look good, but the stuff doesn’t last, say the furniture experts.
Helmer said, “My motto is buy the best stuff you can with the money you have.”
She said H&F works with preferred vendors to buy the best-quality items and with shoppers to do custom orders.
Helmer and Gustafson typically spend time asking customers how they’ll use the furniture or the room -- Gustafson also does in-home consultations.
Gervais said about the business, “We’re problem solvers,” agreeing with his coworkers that it’s all about customer service and supporting the community.
Customers who buy new furniture are encouraged to donate their old pieces to the nonprofit store Second Chances. H&F also strives to support youth sports, various benefits, schools, other local businesses in any way it can.
Helmer says big, bulky furniture became popular as homes and people grew bigger.
Gustafson adds that people will find a variety at H&F, “We carry a lot of smaller pieces, too, like to fit in an apartment.”
“Motion furniture is really popular right now,” said Helmer giving the examples of swivels and gliders, “and higher-top dining tables.”
H&F added this year a new line of “green” outdoor furniture that includes Adirondack chairs and accessories made of recycled plastic.
Helmer says, “Right now I can say next-day install,” but adds that in busier times, it might have been a few days to a week or so.
The staffers agree that a big highlight of the job is creating friendships and helping people leave happy.
They enjoy having loyal customers grow from the people who walk in H&F for the first time and exclaim: ‘I didn’t even realize there was a furniture store in River Falls!’
Helmer said, “Our motto is save time, save gas, save money, shop local.”
H&F Home Furnishings is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday and Friday; 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Reach the store by calling 715-425-2782, check out H&F online at www.handfinc.com, and/or plan to visit during the business’ 30th anniversary celebration (see related sidebar).
H&F Home Furnishings welcomes all to a 30th anniversary celebration event Aug. 23, 24 and 25 at the furniture store, 155 State Road 35N.
Guests are invited to visit, enjoy refreshments, check out a warehouse sale offering with some items up to half off, join the VIP text club, check out big savings on in-stock flooring and get 15% off furniture and mattresses.