O'Reilly's Furniture focuses on customers
O'Reilly's Furniture and Amish Gallery at 1151 S. Milwaukee Ave. in Libertyville is starting a new chapter.
Opened in 1977 and run for over 40 years by founder Gary O'Reilly, it was sold this past summer to Michael Walsh, a longtime Lake County resident and casual friend of O'Reilly. The two are running the operation side-by-side for the rest of this calendar year and then O'Reilly and his wife plan to retire out of state.
"Gary and I got to know each other while working on an annual fundraiser at Carmel High School," Walsh recalled. "Then, last December, we bumped into each other at a local store and while talking, he asked me if I might be interested in buying his store."
"It just so happened that I had been the vice president of sales for a home décor company and I was tired of constantly traveling," he continued. "Early in my career I had worked in retail and had been dreaming of getting back into that, so I pursued the idea."
"Gary had a great business model. He had really carved out a niche in Lake County, mixing custom American-made wood furniture and a nice selection of upholstery and leather furniture. Most of his competitors were big box, low-end furniture stores and some very expensive high-end stores. O'Reilly's was in the middle and it offered a degree of customization that no one else was offering -- certainly at their price point," Walsh explained.
Gary O'Reilly had succeeded for over 40 years because he provided the highest-quality furniture and exceptional service to each and every customer who walked in and had a unique ability to connect customers with the perfect furniture for their unique needs, he continued.
Walsh also liked the fact that O'Reilly's was a single unit, privately owned business. So the two made the deal and Walsh took over in July.
O'Reilly's Furniture is unlike most furniture stores because its 15,000-square-foot space is literally packed tight with furniture of all descriptions -- 50 dining table and chair sets, 60 entertainment centers, 15 bedroom sets and so forth, all displayed in an effort to let customers touch, see and feel as much as possible while making a decision. Seeing finishes, legs, tops and edges on a full-sized piece of furniture is much easier than trying to envision something based on a small sample or a photo in a book, Walsh said.
At O'Reilly's you can mix and match dining tables and chairs to a degree unknown in most furniture stores where entire sets are sold together and the only option might be the upholstery on the chair seat.
O'Reilly's longtime connection to the talented Amish craftsmen who hand-make the future "family heirlooms" they sell is its biggest strength, Walsh said.
"The benefit of working with such skilled artisans is not only that their quality is unmatched, but that the customer has a chance to customize their furniture to get exactly what they want," he explained. "We facilitate a relationship that allows customers and craftsmen to work together to create unique, one-of-a-kind pieces that fit perfectly in people's homes, pieces they will pass on to future generations."
Walsh has seven children and hopes that one or two will follow him into the furniture business down the line. His son, Sean, is currently his marketing manager, handling advertising and social media and creating a new aesthetic for the O'Reilly store.
"I have some long-range dreams for the business, but right now we are concentrating on customer service, which is so important and making sure that customers always see the same friendly faces when they walk in," Walsh said. "We offer delivery for a minimal fee and even haul away their old furniture, either donating it to the St. Vincent DePaul Society or disposing of it. And if a customer calls with a problem, one of us goes right over to the home to try to solve it or to call in someone who can help," he continued.
For more information, log on to www.orfurn.com or call (847) 367-6550.