CHESTER — In business since 1985, Chester Furniture is closing its doors for good. Patrons wonder where they will buy furniture for their home in the future.
The store, located directly across from Auto Zone, has had two owners: Mark Beard and Gary Wright.
A “discontinuance announcement” was made on Facebook on Sunday. Patrons were invited to shop the final inventory, “Everything must go. No reasonable offer will be refused.’
By the time I pulled into the parking lot, furniture was flying through the door. Well, pulled by muscle power to truck beds and trailers.
“We have been working with this wonderful company for years. They have quality furniture and excellent customer service,” said Laurel Rothenberger of Chester. “Twenty people lined up before us before they opened the door this morning.”
Customers were scattered around the showroom looking for something to grab before someone else took it. It had a “Cheers” themed vibe… “Where everyone knows your name. And they’re always glad you came.”
I spotted Kimberly Lewis, owner of Suit Up Poker, who I profiled in a story years ago. She was quick to share her feelings about closing the family business.
“I am extremely sad. I’ve been buying furniture here for 22 years … kitchen, living room, bedroom, living room,” said Louis, of Prince George.
After having her couch for 11 years, Louise 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’ll never get the same anywhere else,” Lewis said. “He was providing custom orders. If he didn’t have what I was looking for in the showroom, he would find it in a catalog.”
Fun in the Sun: Shop in the A/CPetersburg Block Party = Happy Shoppers, Vendors, Food Trucks, Parents, Kids, Pets
Chester Furniture Family
Philip Jarratt of Hopewell moved out on his own when he was 17 and started working at Chester Furniture. He stayed 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’m going to do now.”
Three other employees will be in the same boat, hoping to find a job that feels 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 closed for good.
Ashley Jarratt pointed to a portrait of a woman on the tills and said: “My sister Mary Elizabeth was named after her. She was the ‘female’ presence here for the longest time and kept everyone under control.”
The late Mary Elizabeth “Liz” Doll worked at Chester Furniture for 30 years.
Chester Furniture Facebook friends
“I’m 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 may God bless you in all that you do. I will miss you all.”
“I’m so sorry to hear that. My whole house is from Chester Furniture. I still have two leather lounge chairs that are… over 25 years old. No rips. Without tears. Excellent condition,” commented Tammy Jessen. “I met Gary and Mark over 25 years ago while working at a local law firm and have never shopped anywhere else.”
“It breaks my heart. My house can serve as a second showroom for them. I’ve been buying so many of them for over 25 years,” commented Linda Winger. “Always great to work with and great customer service. Happy retirement!”
“So sad to see this lovely place close. I furnished my home from here. Two bedrooms, three living rooms,” commented Deborah Crowley Catow. “Philip, Marty and Gary always made you feel welcome like an old friend, time to sit down and talk. You will be missed, but I hope your retirement is everything you deserve.’
“It breaks my heart, this is happening. Over 30 years of buying from all of you, both my parents and myself,” commented Kathryn Frangopoulos. “A sad end to a family shop.”
“Awe. I love this place and these people. Gary and Mark have always been the nicest guys,” commented Christy Bryant Parrish. “It’s sad to see them go, but I know they’ve worked for many years. Happy retirement guys!”
Myrtle Beach: Feet in the Sand
“It’s bad … when you move to the beach, but you can’t go to the beach because you’re working remotely,” Wright said.
A desire to retire wasn’t the only reason Chester Furniture closed for good. The decision was made in part because of the pandemic, which has led to a spike in prices and waiting periods.
“Special orders used to take 10 months to a year, but that’s getting better,” Wright said. “However, the prices are not.”
Chester Furniture is at 351 E. Hundred Rd. The sale is tomorrow from 10am to 8pm, Saturday from 10am to 6pm and Sunday from 12pm to 5pm. For more information follow them on Facebook.
“I might have met the whole town”Petersburg: Artist Mark Brown in VAW-123 Squadron paints historic buildings in the Old Town
Are you a fan of Downton Abbey?Downton Abbey fans attend afternoon tea in period dress: Eat scones, watch a film
— Christy K. Higgins, aka The Social Butterfly columnist, is the current affairs and food Q&A reporter for The Progress-Index. Got a news tip for a local trend or business? Contact Christy (she, her) at [email protected], follow up @KHiggins_PI on Twitter @socialbutterflykristi on Instagram.
Your support is vital to local journalism. Please subscribe.