Thursday, December 3, 2009

Uptown Westerville is Place for Community Business

Amish Originals Furniture Co. is featured in this week's ThisWeek!

Amish Originals finds home in city's Uptown

Wednesday, December 2, 2009 3:12 PM

ThisWeek Staff Writer

Editor's note: This story is the first in a five-part series examining what makes Uptown Westerville unique and highlighting selected businesses there.

Amish Originals Furniture Co. has been peddling heavy, handmade, wooden furniture in Uptown for 17 years.

The store has expanded three times, first adding wings to each side of its original location at 8 N. State. St., then adding an additional location at 38 N. State St.

"We just ran out of room, I guess," owner Doug Winbigler said of the expansions. "I think we're done now."

Winbigler said he opened his furniture store in 1992 with encouragement from his father, who owns a lumber yard in Ashland County. At the time, Amish men in the area were beginning to make and sell furniture.

"It was my dad's idea to open here," said Winbigler, who was working for The Limited at the time and was looking for a new career opportunity. Uptown Westerville was chosen because Winbigler said he liked the hometown feel of the area.

"We were raised near a small town," he said. "We were drawn to the charm, the look of (Westerville)." The location was secured when Winbigler spotted a "for rent" sign in a storefront window.

"It was serendipitous, I guess," he said. "It all just fell into place as we worked on it."

Since then, the furniture store has thrived, selling office furniture and tables at the original location and bedroom furniture at the store farther north up State Street.

Amish Originals attracts shoppers from surrounding communities to Uptown, Winbigler said, and customers visiting the store have shipped purchases to many points across the state and country. International businessmen working in central Ohio also have shipped items to Europe and Asia.

Winbigler said he believes the shop has been a good fit for Uptown Westerville because its sturdy, Ohio-made products sold in an independently owned business speaks to people's values.

"The values of our products are consistent with the values of the community," he said.

The store also does well, he said, because in 17 years, the business has become part of the community, supporting local schools and community groups.

The employees, who are trained to not pressure customers into buying items, also attract return customers.

"We're successful because we've been blessed with the people who work here," Winbigler said. "Nobody's ever going to push. No one's on commission. We still run this like a small-town store. I think that's why we fit in."

With the success that he and other business owners and Uptown have seen, he said he still knows his business depends on local customers.

"If the community enjoys Uptown, they need to support Uptown," Winbigler said.
Even if residents don't buy anything, he encourages them to head to the Uptown area to browse the many stores.

So far, he said, he has found widespread support in the community, seeing local customers return when they're ready to make new furniture purchases.

"We still see our very first customers from the first year we were here," Winbigler said. "We have the same people in here every year, every two years."

To read the Amish Originals story online, click here.

Miriam's Journal and more, visit the Amish Originals blog, click here.

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