Built to Last

Squeezed by big-box retailers, family-owned furniture stores are proud to be throwbacks—to an era of craftsmanship and personal service.

Greenbaum Interiors

Susan Greenbaum Gross learned to appreciate craftsmanship at an early age. “We would arrive in a hotel room,” she recalls, “and my father would pick up the cushions to see who made the furniture.”

Today, Greenbaum Gross heads the company that her father, Jimmy Greenbaum, and his brother, Alvin, started in 1952 with a small furniture store on the corner of Washington and Van Houten streets in Paterson. The company, now 100 employees, has grown into a seven-building complex, covering 140,000 square feet, comprising artisan studios and custom furniture workrooms, where much of the furniture is made. Both the Paterson and Morristown showrooms offer interior design services.

Where is interior design going? Interior design is headed toward a cleaner, more contemporary look. People started to look for a more Zen-like environment after September 11th.

Does quality have to be sacrificed for budget? No. You see people mixing price points these days. One beautiful piece can carry the room.

How do you compete with the chain stores? We’re about quality and fabulous design. That’s where we knock out the big guys.

Do people feel comfortable working with an interior designer? Many people think they are going to be intimidated. In fact, working with a designer should be a collaboration of equals, not an aesthetic dictatorship.

What type of sale gives you most satisfaction? I love it that multiple generations of families shop here. Also, some of the sales that are most exciting are the people who have saved for six months to buy a piece that they love.

Greenbaum Interiors
101 Washington Street, Paterson, 973-279-3000
Country Mile, Morristown, 973-425-5500, greenbauminteriors.com


Lloyd’s Furniture

Jeff Silverman’s life has been furniture for as long as he can remember. “My mother tells the story of my being in the shop when I was three or four and mumbling the words, ‘Can I help you?’”

It’s easy to see where the commitment comes from. At 86, Lloyd Silverman, Jeff’s father, still works five days a week. Jeff’s wife, Ghislaine, a designer, is director of creative merchandising. A native of France, she is keen on European craftsmanship and superior design. The latter is overseen by Andrew Limone, president of the National Interior Design Society, who recently joined the staff.

Launched in a 20-by-30-foot space in Somerville in 1950, Lloyd’s has three locations. “The pieces [we sell] are authentic,” says Jeff. “There’s a big difference between ‘French’ furniture made in China and French furniture made in France.”

Lloyd’s Furniture, 130 W Main St, (908-526-4344); Lloyd’s French Shop, 14 Davenport St, (908) 526-7788), both in Somerville; the Antiques & Finds Shop, 50 Tannery Rd, Readington (908-534-4452); theworldoflloyds.com.


Bograd’s

There’s a reason you often find Joe Bograd, head of the upscale home furnishings store that bears his name, on the showroom floor. “In the furniture business at this level,” he says, “people need to feel that they are dealing with somebody they can trust. People are surprised to hear that they are dealing with Mr. Bograd.” A natural in the business, Joe’s son, Mark, made his first sale at the age of twelve. A woman came into the showroom, then in Paterson, and asked to see dining room sets. “I said to Mark, ‘When people come to the store, they don’t want to be taken care of by a twelve-year-old. Just wait.’” The next day the woman called and ordered an Ethan Allen set Mark had shown her.

Bograd’s started as a door-to-door business in the early 1920s. By 1930, the company was doing well enough to open a furniture store. Nowadays, Joe’s wife, Marcia, says, “Customers are much more impatient. Everyone wants something sooner.” However, the high-end furnishings that Bograd’s sells often feature customized upholstery and finishes, which take time. Part of their commitment to customers is “to meet those [time] requests whenever possible,” she adds.

Today, the Riverdale-based retailer led by Mark, who was a museum curator before joining the family business full-time, works hard to offer customers variety, quality, and service as trends come and go. Transitional looks and relaxed styles have edged out more traditional aesthethics. But one tradition Bograd’s has retained is service.

“I try to deal with customers the way I want to be dealt with,” he says. “Golden Rule-type stuff. A family business has its own standards of how they do something and how they deal with customer service. We grew up in a family that likes furniture. We sell nice things to nice people.”

81 Hamburg Turnpike, Riverdale, 888-428-7953, bograds.com

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