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posted: 1/19/2013 5:58 AM

American-made draws customers to Dow Furniture

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  • Dow Furniture's roots in the Aurora area date back to the 1920s.

       Dow Furniture's roots in the Aurora area date back to the 1920s.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Dow Furniture in North Aurora offers some smaller and compact furniture for those looking to downsize.

       Dow Furniture in North Aurora offers some smaller and compact furniture for those looking to downsize.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Dow Furniture in North Aurora offers some smaller and compact furniture for those homeowners looking to downsize.

       Dow Furniture in North Aurora offers some smaller and compact furniture for those homeowners looking to downsize.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Dow Furniture in North Aurora offers some compact furniture for older customers downsizing into condos or smaller homes.

       Dow Furniture in North Aurora offers some compact furniture for older customers downsizing into condos or smaller homes.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Jan Showalter, whose father opened Dow Furniture in 1959, now co-owns the store with her sister Jean McAtee.

       Jan Showalter, whose father opened Dow Furniture in 1959, now co-owns the store with her sister Jean McAtee.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
By Jean Murphy
Daily Herald Correspondent

Three little words -- Made in America -- are all the rage today. But at Dow Furniture in North Aurora, those have been the watchwords, literally, since the store was founded by Bert Dow in 1959.

Prior to that, Dow had been part owner of a furniture store in downtown Aurora since the 1920s.

"We primarily deal with smaller, family-owned furniture firms located around the Midwest," said Jean Dow McAtee, co-owner of the store with her sister, Jan Dow Showalter.

Canada is the only place from which the store imports any furniture.

Dow Furniture buys leather and fabric sofas, recliners and chairs from Smith Brothers of Berne, Ind.; Norwalk of Norwalk, Ohio; Comfort Design of North Carolina; and Village Designs of Virginia. Television consoles and occasional tables come from AA Laun in Wisconsin, while sleep sets are purchased from Symbol Mattress of Wisconsin. The furthest any merchandise in the store travels is from California and Quebec.

"We have been with most of them for many years because they provide us with very well-built furniture. We also believe we get more for our customers' money than we would with the big name brands because these small firms don't spend a lot of money on advertising," McAtee said.

"When so many of the furniture companies were shipping jobs to Asia in the 1990s and 2000s, our firms were continuing to manufacture here."

Today, homeowners' efforts to buy items that have been made domestically are bringing many new customers to Dow Furniture. Most have seen Dow's website, store windows or advertisements, which all tout its loyalty to American-made products and help draw people to shop there.

"While most of our longtime shoppers are now older and ready to downsize, we are also getting their children and grandchildren, as well as new people solely drawn to our us by the fact that our furniture is made in America," McAtee said.

Most customers live in the Fox Valley or at least within a 60-mile radius of the store, but Dow Furniture has its own delivery staff so the store is willing to deliver to downtown Chicago, as well as to Lake Geneva and Galena.

McAtee is noticing that customers, no matter what their age, are being conservative when it comes to their furniture purchases.

"They know they will own this furniture for a long time, so they are choosing neutral colors like gray, black and the taupes and they are popping them up with colorful pillows," she said. Leather and fabric seem to be equally popular, she added, because there are so many choices with both.

Dow only sells leather furniture, however. It doesn't sell vinyl, splits or bonded leathers.

When it comes to solid wood furniture, maple and cherry are most popular right now. Today's homeowners don't want heavy grains, McAtee said. They also like the many different stain choices offered with each of those woods.

"Our older customers are downsizing and being very practical about it," she said. "They are looking for smaller sofas that will fit into a condo or smaller house and that sit up higher and are easy to get up from. That is our specialty."

In addition, these downsizing shoppers are looking for new television consoles that work with the new flat screen televisions, smaller beds and bedroom sets and much smaller dining sets.

"Many want to keep key pieces of their old furniture so they bring in pictures of it on their phones and iPads we work hard to find new pieces that will blend with their existing pieces," McAtee said.

Dow Furniture is also willing to sell pieces off their sales floor to customers who need something immediately. Even special order items are generally available within 30 days, McAtee said, because the factories are so close to the store and don't involve much transportation time.

Dow Furniture is located at 211 S. Lincolnway (Route 31) in North Aurora. For more information, call (630) 896-5862 or visit www.dow-furniture.com.

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