(Kristin Eberts) [Order this photo]
Q: Why have you chosen to live in Southeast Missouri?
A: I've chosen to stay in Southeast Missouri because I think it has a lot going for it. In particular I love living in the Cape Girardeau and Jackson area because it has a lot of the resources of a bigger city with a small-town feel. We have two hospitals, a college, major manufacturing and many other assets that keep Cape Girardeau County moving forward. I see potential here; it isn't a place that is in decline but a place that is constantly moving upward. I've had many people that I've graduated with that always talked about moving away, but when it comes down to it, most stay because it is hard to find another place like it.
Q: How long have you worked in the furniture business?
A: I have worked in the furniture business my entire life. I think my father had me dusting and cleaning on Saturdays since I could walk. Thankfully now I have a little better job title and more responsibility.
Q: When was your business founded?
A: My father and grandfather started the Jackson store in 1979, and not long after they expanded and opened a store in Perryville, Mo., I have been managing the Jackson store for the last four years.
Q: Why did you choose to get into the furniture business?
A: I don't think I chose to get in the furniture business; it basically chose me. I wanted to be a high school biology teacher, but I fell in love with the furniture business while I was going to college. It just felt right, and every day since then I have enjoyed going to work.
Q: How have trends in furniture changed over the course of your career?
A: Trends have dramatically changed in furniture since I started. When I first started selling, a majority of the wood products were a light to medium finish. Now dark finishes rule the market. It is the same thing with upholstery, too. There used to be color everywhere, but now most of what you see is neutral in color. I still try to stock more color in our lineup because I believe a sea of brown sofas is depressing. I try to keep our inventory current and up to date with the latest trends, something I don't believe we always did very well. I do a lot of research to keep up with the market, and I listen to our customers to know exactly what they want.
Q: What currently is the most popular furniture trend among your customers?
A: The most popular trend among my customers is contemporary furniture. In every category we have increased our amount of contemporary furniture because of its high demand. Customers want simple, sleek lines, and, like I mentioned before, in wood categories dark finishes reign.
Q: How have you managed to compete with chain furniture stores?
A: Personally I don't think it is too hard to compete with the big chain furniture stores. They usually rely on advertising name brands even if those name-brand manufacturers are putting out an inferior product. When we choose a product we look at the quality and value of the product not the name. We rely on our name and reputation to sell the product. Another big misconception is that big chain furniture stores have lower prices than us. When you compare like products we are usually 10 to 20 percent less than the chain stores. With two stores we can buy product at the same prices everyone else does, and with lower overhead we can sell it for less.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you've faced professionally?
A: The biggest challenge that I have faced professionally is according to statistics I have always managed the store during a recession. I don't think it has necessarily been a challenge, though, because I don't know any different. Since I have never been in a normal economy, this is a normal economy to me. I think in the future I will look back at this time and realize just how much I learned during this time period. The skills I learn now will help me with the ups and downs of the future.
Q: What effects have the economic downturn had on your business?
A: The economic downturn hasn't really hurt us, and I think it is because of the area we live in. Our local economy is doing just fine. We have low unemployment, and it seems like more jobs are being added every year. I think that we are fortunate to be in Southeast Missouri.
Q: What is your greatest professional achievement?
A: I don't think I have had my greatest professional achievement yet. I am only 24, so I expect greater things to come for myself.
Q: What are you most proud of? What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
A: I am most proud of being a part of a family business. It is very rewarding to know I am carrying on something that my father and grandfather worked so hard to build. Outside of work I enjoy going out to dinner with my wife, golfing (even though I am horrible at it), and just relaxing. I think people are so rushed nowadays that they forget sometimes to just relax. I am guilty myself of not slowing down enough.
Q: What are your goals for the future?
A: I have many goals for the future, way too many to list. Like I said before I am only 24, so I have countless things going through my head on what I would like to accomplish. One particular goal for the future is being more involved in the community. It has given so much to me that I feel I should return the favor.