Furniture store owner lands cushy deal with Serta Mattress
A positive business story amid weeks of news of a spiraling national economy is a rare thing.
Rarer still is the positive story about a business closing, but Riley’s Fine Furniture is shutting its doors, and the future couldn’t look brighter for owner Patrick Unverferth.
“When people find out we’re closing, the first thing they think is we’ve hit on hard times because of the economy,” Unverferth said. “The true, whole story is not that unfortunate.”
Unverferth has owned Riley’s since 2005. He has also owned three America’s Mattress stores — two in Grand Junction and one in Glenwood Springs — during that time, which are reasons he is closing the furniture store.
Unverferth has been hired as a consultant by mattress giant Serta Mattress to redesign every America’s Mattress store in the country.
In January 2006, Unverferth said he and his wife, an interior designer, decided to tinker with the layout of their mattress stores.
Prior to that, the inside of every mattress store across the country looked the same, Unverferth said.
“Blue boxes,” Unverferth said. “It’s just like what you’d expect. Rows of mattresses and blue walls.”
Unverferth said he and his wife incorporated a design strategy at their mattress stores similar to the one they implemented at Riley’s. Customers are better served seeing their potential mattresses in a
bedroom, he said, surrounded by a “homey” atmosphere.
After a touch of earthtone paints, fireplaces, art prints and dimmed lighting, Unverferth said the impact was immediately noticeable.
“There was an instant change in our numbers,” Unverferth said. “It really helped us through the hard times.”
Unverferth’s sales jumped 20 percent in a year, he said, and that caught the attention of the top brass at Serta Mattress.
In addition to redesigning 450 America’s Mattress stores across the country after his model, Unverferth said he will be part of an aggressive effort to expand the mattress store’s presence in the southwestern part of the country.
The plan is have 100 stores in the region based in Grand Junction, Unverferth said. The Grand Junction area would house 10 stores within the next 18 months, he said.
But with that kind of full plate on the horizon, Unverferth said, he realized he didn’t have the time to devote to Riley’s.
“Riley’s has been good to us,” he said. “It was just more energizing to be on the front end of something big.”
The furniture store reopened Thursday for a liquidation sale.
He has about $700 million in stock, Unverferth said, and he plans to offer aggressive deals on his furniture stock with the hope it sells quickly.
Riley’s is still profitable, with business up 15 percent this year, Unverferth said, but the furniture business as a whole is taking a big hit because of the rising costs of importing goods, while the mattress industry is still strong.
Unverferth said his employees at Riley’s will have the option to make the switch from furniture to mattresses when Riley’s closes its doors for good.
“Surprisingly, this has been a good thing,” he said. “Typically, going out of business is a distressing situation, but this has been good.”