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Doug Samsen is happy when area shoppers come to his store, Samsen Furnishing Co. in Genoa, to buy the couch or dining room table they've long wanted.
But what he really wants is for them to leave with a whole lot more.
"We'll say, 'Tell us about your room,' so we can learn about their lifestyles and hopefully sell them everything from lamps to accessories," said Mr. Samsen, president of the furniture store that has been in his family since 1954.
It was that year that his grandfather, Walter, and father, Robert, purchased an existing furniture store-funeral home and started making changes. The first thing to go was the undertaking supplies, followed by such appliance lines as Hoover vacuum cleaners.
Today, Doug Samsen and his brother-in-law, Chris Thornberry, a partner and sales manager in the business, handle the day-to-day operations of the company. Mr. Samsen's father still stops in at the store that he decided to move in 1972 to its current location at 22225 W. State Rt. 51.
It's a location that seems out of the way to many, but suits the younger Mr. Samsen just fine.
"With all the land we have, we find this is a fairly affordable way to do business," said Doug Samsen. "We can display more product and be more of a destination place for people to come to and shop."
The company has a presence along the thriving Monroe Street corridor, with a Fine Designs sofa gallery, but it was decided to keep the family name off of that store.
"That's a speciality store that offers a different product line," Mr. Samsen said. "We're not the size market that can support two locations like we have in Genoa."
That location, which includes a showroom and warehouse, has had additions, and it will have 53,000 square feet of showroom space and 30,000 of warehouse when the latest project is completed.
Business has been "very up and down" since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Samsen said. The key, he added is to find ways to lure in customers. One place in the store has an eating area, with cookies, a playhouse, videos, and small furniture to help children relax and stay occupied while their parents shop.
Customer Joanne Jurek said she keeps returning to the store because of the personal service.
"They just have wonderful, wonderful ideas. I'm always very pleased," said Mrs. Jurek, who has outfitted two bedrooms, a great room, and a sun room in her Sylvania Township home with help from sales lady Sandy Keats.
"She offers very, very personal service. She's not pushy, but she offers advice if you ask," said Mrs. Jurek.
The store's 13 sales people offer interior design advice and make complimentary house calls, where they'll measure to make sure furniture will fit. Plans call for a spring start to a service to help people design an entire room, with fabrics and accessories. The fee will be refunded if customers buy the furniture at Samsen's, Mr. Samsen said.
With the Toledo-area market not growing, it is more of a struggle for retailers to stand out.
"We want to develop our market share, to get more of that pie," he said.
Contact Mary-Beth McLaughlin at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6199.
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