The world is slowly moving to a time when machines build everything, but that time is not here yet. And one Illinois store owner is attracting more customers than ever by offering hand-crafted, made to order Amish furniture.
According to the Daily Herald, Gary O’Reilly, owner of O’Reilly’s Furniture in Libertyville, IL, was looking for a creative way to reinvent his business about five years ago.
To achieve this, he began buying his furniture from Amish craftsmen in Ohio and Indiana. By doing so, O’Reilly was able to achieve two important things: supporting American-made goods while delivering more customization options to his customers.
Since making the switch to Amish craftsmen, O’Reilly’s Furniture has become wildly successful. The store’s customers can now customize every facet of their furniture, from size specifications to the type of wood that is used.
“People come in to ask me if I have a particular piece and before they even get the words out of their mouths, I say, ‘yes.’ They laugh and say, ‘How can you say yes, you don’t know what I am asking,’ and I tell them that we can get them anything they want,” O’Reilly said.
Amish furniture’s superior craftsmanship has been admired for centuries, but modern stores like O’Reilly’s Furniture are just now beginning to realize how these high-quality pieces can help to attract more loyal customers.
As his business continued to grow, O’Reilly gradually integrated more Amish furniture into his inventory. Now, the savvy business owner claims that about 80% of his business is Amish furniture, accounting for $1 million in sales during 2015.
“My business now falls into four main categories,” said O’Reilly. “I sell Amish furniture that primarily consists of bedroom sets, dining sets and television cabinets. I sell high-end leather sectionals that are my only import, but they are so well-made and so inexpensive, I have to carry them.”
“I tell my customers that if I were a better businessman, I would mark them up,” O’Reilly added.
According to the Stamford Advocate, O’Reilly’s Furniture is not the only store that has made the switch to Amish furniture.
Chris Meier, owner of Against the Grain in Harbor Point, CT, decided to start selling handcrafted Amish goods in December. He claims that a few cultural differences were hard to overcome at first (Amish suppliers don’t use fax machines or email, for example) but his customers absolutely love the new customization options available to them.
As for O’Reilly’s Furniture, the store’s owner continually emphasized how grateful he is to be supporting the local economy by purchasing furniture made in the U.S.
“I buy as much American-made furniture as I can,” said O’ Reilly. “You can definitely get good quality furniture from China and other countries. What you sacrifice is choice.”