For this week’s #ShopFranklin Spotlight, I sat down with Jared Simon of Simon’s Furniture!
Simon’s has been a Franklin institution for over a century now; Jared’s great-great-grandfather, Abraham, opened the store in 1911, and five generations of Simons have been supplying Franklin with furniture ever since. Although the store still uses the 54 East Central Street showroom it’s had since 1930, the Simon family has continually updated and expanded its space, and Simon’s now occupies about 35,000 square feet. Since Franklin’s current population is over 33,000, Jared says “we’ve kind of grown almost exactly in line with the town’s size.”
Simon’s has been careful to keep up with the times in more than just showroom space. “Each generation has to reinvent the company to make it successful for another generation,” Jared says. “Each generation tweaks the company a little bit to make it relevant for today, and I think that’s what’s kept us in business for so long.” Jared’s grandfather was responsible for joining the New England Appliance and Electronics Group, a Franklin-based buying group for retailers. That membership gives Simon’s access to $40 million worth of appliance stock right here in town, and enables them to deliver anywhere in Franklin within a day or two – perfect for those appliance emergencies. Jared’s father focused on automating and computerizing the company, expanding the showroom, and creating a state-of-the-art warehouse and distribution facility.
Now, Jared’s own goal is to continue pushing Simon’s online, maintaining and improving the company’s websites. Among other innovations, Jared has created websites that allow customers to work out size, color, and design options for various furniture pieces online, and an algorithm that tracks other retailers’ appliance pricing and hourly adjusts Simon’s pricing to match. “We find that if the customer has a good experience online… they tend to shop around online to decide which stores they’re going to go visit, and then at the end of the day they visit the store they’re going to buy from,” says Jared. “Having a strong web presence with pricing and everything on there allows people to compare us against the big box stores and ultimately make the decision to come visit us.”
When it comes to furniture, Jared is proud to confirm that everything Simon’s sells is “quality, custom, or American-made.” He’s particularly excited about a new line of solid hardwood bedroom sets made in Virginia, because the manufacturer plants a new tree for every one that’s cut down to make their furniture, but Simon’s also offers several exclusive customizable lines that are hard to find in the area. “We’re in a unique position where we’re not big and we’re not really too small – we can do business with a lot of different manufacturers that would normally only sell to one or two stores in the area,” Jared says. Simon’s is also committed to educating and training its employees to provide the best possible customer service, particularly in the appliance division. “You’re not dealing with someone who just doesn’t know anything about the product, who just works in the store – you’re dealing with an expert who can really guide you to what you’re looking for,” says Jared. “We find that the consumer, when they have all the information, will purchase a product that they’ll like better and in the long term they’ll enjoy – and they’ll come back to us because they were able to find the service they wanted.”
If you’re not quite sure what you want, you can work with one of Simon’s design consultants for free, and they’ll come to your home to measure, make suggestions, and figure out how to integrate your new furniture with your existing pieces. There’s even a professional seamstress on site to make custom window treatments to coordinate with your brand new design. Interestingly, Jared notes that customers’ tastes have proven to be a good barometer for the state of the economy; popular furniture styles and colors became significantly more conservative and neutral during the recent recession. “Colors almost disappeared from our floor, and when we went to furniture market, which we’d go to twice a year, colors disappeared there as well.” Once the economy began to recover, Jared saw more color and fabric options begin to come back to the market, and customers have returned to buying less conservative pieces. “They’re taking risks now with their styles, now that the economy’s on better footing.”
As befits a business that’s been in town for over a hundred years, Simon’s is well integrated into the Franklin community. Jared relates that they’ve been doing business with some of the same families for decades, and Simon’s annual warehouse sale ends up being like a reunion for their repeat customers. “We’re like the Cheers of furniture stores!” laughs Jared. Simon’s also sponsors several school sports teams and donates to local charities, and the family continually looks for other ways to help support other community activities like the Franklin Downtown Partnership’s annual Strawberry Stroll. “That’s probably the best part about being in business,” Jared says. “Being able to own your own business and also give back to the community.”
Simon’s Furniture is located at 8 Summer Street. For more information and the latest deals, like their Facebook page and check out their website – for more photos, visit Focus Designs and Photos‘ #ShopFranklin Photo Spotlight on Simon’s!