Like many young families, Brandon and Laura Amstutz moved to the Valley for education and a change of scenery. In 2006 they bought their first home and were faced with the challenge of furnishing it. Like most young people they had some hand-me-down furniture, and some “starter” furniture bought from discount stores. They also had a very nice Amish-made bedroom suite that was a wedding gift from their parents.
“It started as a joke last Christmas,” said Laura, “We were driving around to furniture stores in Ohio looking for a small dresser for our guest bedroom, and I said, ‘we should open an Amish furniture store in Harrisonburg.”
The idea stuck, and has turned into Downtown Fine Furniture Company, which opened September 4th, 2007.
“We discovered a group of Amish furniture makers who were already working together to provide furniture for another store in Cincinnati, Ohio,” said Brandon. “They were excited about the possibility of new markets for their furniture.”
They had also heard about the phenomenal growth in the Valley and the new industries moving to the Harrisonburg area.
“In early April, as we were working out the details I remember my primary contact for the group of furniture makers, called me,” said Brandon. “He asked if I’d ever heard of Silicon Valley, and then he asked if I had realized that it was coming to Harrisonburg.”
Working with the Amish furniture makers provides some challenges for Brandon. They don’t have phones and so contacts are made primarily by fax or when the Amish men go to a phone booth to call Brandon.
“I respect their lifestyle,” said Brandon, “It just means I have to think a little differently about doing business.”
Part of that lifestyle is the attraction of their furniture.
“They don’t cut corners. They make furniture that is solid and meant to last,” continued Brandon. “Their shops are family-owned and usually primarily family run. They employ members of their community and treat them fairly.”
“I once heard someone say that you don’t own solid hardwood furniture, you merely take care of it for the next generation. That’s what we want people to realize with our furniture. It’s not going to go into a landfill in 5 years, and if you take care of it, it will last beyond your lifetime.”
“Another important aspect of this furniture for me is that I know where it comes from,” continued Brandon. “I know the furniture makers personally and I hope to bring them to Harrisonburg at least once a year, so that customers can get to know them too.”
“In April of this year I read an article in the Washington Post (April 1, 2007) about the illegal logging trade in China. Much furniture you see today is made in China, some is made using wood from supposedly protected forests,” continued Brandon. And many furniture stores can’t verify that the furniture in their stores is not made from wood that is being illegally logged.
“Because I know the furniture makers, and they know their wood suppliers and I can tell you that the furniture in my store is made from domestic hardwood,” said Brandon. “I’m proud to say that my furniture is made in the United States by people who employ their local communities.”
The Amstutz’ chose to put their store downtown for the same reason.
“We are excited about the direction the downtown is taking. In the four years we’ve lived in the Harrisonburg, we’ve been to several events downtown, including the First Night activities and the Valley 4th events,” said Brandon. “These are important community building events and I’m glad to be a part of Downtown Renaissance who organizes these events.”
Drive down the streets of any town in the USA on trash collection day and you will see the remains of cheap, poorly constructed furniture often made on other continents by people barely making a living wage while being exposed to toxic chemicals. Globally, forests are being destroyed to provide a cheap supply of “wood” which is often a combination of chemicals and sawdust held together with plastic. The use of synthetics and veneers has become standard. The result is furniture with a short lifespan that quickly ends up in landfills in our own country.
When you make a purchase at Downtown Fine Furniture Company, you are buying from a company committed to sustainability, social justice and the support of local economies. We are a member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council whose mission is to promote sustainable practices and raise awareness among suppliers, manufacturers, retailers, designers and consumers. Downtown Fine Furniture is crafted to last a lifetime in contrast to the cheap mass-produced furniture many people settle for. Yes, exquisitely handcrafted furniture costs more, but it is built to last for generations. At Downtown Fine Furniture Company we are committed to promoting and helping educate our communities about being good stewards of our natural resources.
We are located in Downtown Harrisonburg because we believe that community is important. We support many community functions. To list a few: Harrisonburg Rockingham Free Clinic, The Collins Center, Arc of Harrisonburg and Rockingham, Boys and Girls Club of Harrisonburg, Fairfield Center, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Big Brothers Big Sisters, JMU, Kerus Global, Oasis Art Gallery, Arts Council of the Valley, and EMU.
We’re also a member of the Hardwood Furniture Builders Guild, Sustainable Furnishings Council, Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance and the Harrisonburg Chamber of Commerce.
We are a small business who supports other small businesses. Small business is important to us. We build all of our handcrafted furniture in small family owned shops in Ohio. With many good jobs going overseas, we’re committed to keeping small business in business.
The Downtown Fine Furniture Company Brand.
An investment in handcrafted solid wood furniture from Downtown Fine Furniture Company is an investment that lasts lifetime upon lifetime. We take the Downtown Fine Furniture Company brand very seriously. Each piece of our fine furniture wears a badge that symbolizes our commitment to quality, community, and small business.