By ROGER BUTTON
If you want the Florida look in your home at a price you can afford, a visit to the newly opened attractive Furniture Warehouse along the U.S. 41 Bypass is a must see.
Although the address is 550 S. Seaboard Avenue, the store is close by the We Blew Inn Restaurant on U.S. 41 Bypass.
Stephany Richmond is the owner following the recent passing of her husband, Mark. With her son Morgan they encourage people to come into the exciting new Furniture Warehouse. Leisurely walk around or sample the large range of furniture and accessories including pictures, lamps and decor.
“We are a promotional to medium price point furniture store and that is what we sell,” she said. “Probably like a Kane’s or RoomsToGo, and there are none of those in Venice.”
They have built the largest store they were allowed at almost 22,000 square feet. Copying the successful prototype design of her late husband Mark, it followed the Northern Italian style of Venice and compromising a little with the city they produced a very attractive appearance.
The layout replaces the original style when all the furniture was lined-up. Today the trends have changed with furniture set-up in vignette style so the customer can really imagine it in their own home, said Morgan. Most people went to the home goods stores buying individually, our theory is why not do it all in one store.
In the store are about 35-bedroom sets and around 42 different family room settings with regular, reclining and motion sofas. As they approach the 2020 season new products come in from their distribution center weekly.
“Where an item is not in stock, we will get it within a week or two or replace it,” Stephany said. “A big advantage is next day delivery or same day pick-up.”
Working to price points, if a manufacturer raises the price, they will discontinue the item and find a replacement within the same price point to benefit the customer.
A very proud Venetian, Stephany grew up here on her dad’s small farm along Albee Farm Road. In college she met her husband Mark, both being very motivated they moved to Washington DC. He was a sales representative with a background in marketing and she worked for the Marriott Corporation in accounting.
Three years later she persuaded him to move back to Venice. Tired of traveling they found Sarasota’s old Farmer’s Market building in foreclosure in 1988. Acquiring it, together they created their first Furniture Warehouse, doing everything themselves clearing it out, then putting in new furniture. When not selling he got in the delivery truck while she did the books.
Venice location also a foreclosed building became available in 1989 and again acquiring it they did everything. A few years later when they could afford to, they put in carpets and installed air conditioning. Repeating it in Sarasota it was the beginning of the Furniture Warehouse success.
In 2005 they opened a prototype showroom similar to the new Venice location, then another store in Ellenton. Tearing down the Sarasota store to reopen in the new format leaving Venice the last original store.
“Mark really thought big, he was the marketer, buyer and the visionary,” she said. “At least once a month he would find another piece of land and he thought we should buy it, until I said, No we are too busy as it is. That is how we acquired the Kane’s 6 acres footprint, larger than the usual purchase. We rented it to retain all the Venice employees. Midway through the lease we were offered it and in a weak moment I agreed so now we have six stores instead of five. Today we have more than 140 employees.”
In each store the family propose putting up a memorial for Mark Richmond because it was something he created. He will always be looking down and it will be a memory they will always have as his legacy. Stephany envisions a plaque of clear Lucite, with the appearance of ice, on it will be a photograph of him and a little bit about his history and achievements.
An interesting storyline relates to the piece of land on U.S. 41 in front of their store. It was owned by Jimmy Hoffa, who donated it to the City of Venice. However, the Richmond’s do not believe he is buried there.
Venice Furniture Warehouse is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. Call 941-485-3211.