Furniture Warehouse Ohio expands into new Mentor showroom
Mar. 3—When Brandon Morse started Furniture Warehouse Ohio in 2018, he had one employee and the retail division of the company was meant to be an online retailer with a small selection of product at the showroom.
Just five years later, the company has grown so quickly that Morse now has 30 employees and recently moved into a 30,000 square foot facility in Mentor that was formerly the home of Gander Mountain.
The new showroom at 9620 Diamond Centre Drive opened in mid-February. Operating hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.
There are about 1,000 items on display with another 10,000 available on the website — fwohio.com.
The first building was only 8,000 square feet on Tyler Boulevard and that housed showroom, office staff and warehouse operations. Now Morse has four warehouses (about 50,000 square feet total) on Tyler Boulevard packed with product in addition to the showroom at Diamond Centre Drive.
Things have changed quickly for the 2004 Riverside High graduate, whose knowledge and love of the business developed early on while working with his family.
"I worked for a few local furniture stores in addition to working part time for my aunt's auction house (Auction Alley in Painesville)," Morse said. "Each store had its own niche, but I saw a big opportunity with incorporating auction purchasing styles with furniture retail.
"The auction taught me how to find deals all over the country through different websites and online auctions. It's not only important to find the dea, but we also must keep more cash on hand than the typical store to make sure we are able to purchase when the right deal comes along."
Originally, FWO was set up so the main idea of the showroom was to be a base for staff, processing orders and for customers to get in-person help with service issues. Morse said the pandemic changed the business model in a big way.
In-store sales increased triple digits and online increased low double digits because customers wanted to test and feel product more than ever before and because many people had extra income for purchases due to the stimulus.
"In order to keep up with the changing business environment we needed to find a larger and more visible showroom ASAP," Morse said. "Mentor is a great draw for retail, and the city is amazing to work with businesses."
Morse said sectionals are by far the most popular item he has right now, outselling sofas and recliners combined. Other top sellers include items for the bedroom, office, home entertainment, living room, dining room and more.
In addition, Morse has been able to purchase closeout canvas prints.
"People really seem to enjoy the prints and we only charge what we pay for them," Morse said.
Over the years, Morse has developed a specific approach to the industry that has served FWO customers and employees well.
The company operates nearly debt free and tries to always have plenty of extra cash on hand to purchase discounted furniture. They work with a lot of different brokers, factories and auction sites to get deals on product.
"I spent the last 20 years in this industry building relationships with different companies to make that possible," Morse said. "The secret to discounted product is you must be ready when opportunity strikes. Usually, discounted product is available in random large waves and then dries up. If you don't have the space or extra cash on hand, you miss out."
Morse said FWO offers upfront pricing, so customers do not have to negotiate. The product is also marked with the factory model number so customers can quickly price check with other stores.
FWO has five delivery trucks and they do not subcontract delivery. The delivery crew are our employees, and Morse said he finds they care more about the customer experience than subcontracted services.
In addition, they handle warranty issues in house, which Morse has found is an important part of ensuring quality customer service.
"We subcontract some service work, but the customer calls our store with any warranty issues and if they are not satisfied after the service, they reach back out to us so we can make it right," he said.