By: Randy Lewis
If you live in Monroe or the surrounding area you no doubt know where Riley's Furniture store is. It has been located just off Route 63 on Breaden Drive in Monroe since 1974. With the store preparing to take on a major remodeling project in early June, Riley Griffiths, along with Director of Public Relations Keith Castonguay, invited me out to take a tour of the store and talk about their plans for the future.
Upon entering the store the first thing that caught my eye was Riley himself working behind the counter, one would think as the owner of such a well established business he would be in an office or would have delegated the showroom work to an employee. However, this is not how Riley runs his store. Even though there are many great sales reps at the store, all of whom have at least 7 years experience, it just seemed reassuring to know that if a customer needed to they could walk up and talk with the owner that they could.
In 1970 Riley and a friend opened a furniture store in Middletown called Furniture Depot with just a few beds, some mattresses, a couple of sofas and a dresser. Furniture Depot stayed in Middletown for four years. Riley then decided to move to Monroe.
When I asked Riley why he chose Monroe he told me that Monroe was an up and coming city and the location was great and moving here was the best decision. So, in 1974, he changed the name from furniture Depot to Gracious Living and moved to Monroe. After ten years in Monroe Riley decided to change the name from Gracious Living to Riley's Furniture and hasn't looked back.
The fact that there are 30 employees at Riley's Furniture, some of whom have been with the company for more than 20 years, was impressive. The store is non- commission and the team aspect in the store is evident because of that. From what I saw Riley treats all of his employees like family, giving them the chance to make extra money and learn a new skill by doing things that most employers would hire outside help for, like painting.
Riley has surrounded his self with great people to make his store what it is today. He brought in Director of Public Relations Keith Castonguay from Boston four years ago and together they have some big plans for the store. Next month Riley's will undergo a remodeling, but don’t worry, with the exception of a couple of days the store will remain open during regular business hours.
I asked Riley and Keith, “with the economy the way it is, why remodel now?” They made it very clear that there are two ways to deal with the situation (the economy): you can pull back the rains and ride it out or you can plow forward. They have chosen the latter. And after showing me the blueprints for the new store all I can say is “WOW”. The construction is scheduled to be completed by mid-August with a Re-Grand Opening to follow.
Discuss In the Voice