Furniture store sees Westminster niche

February 25, 1993|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

Harvey Zalis thinks Westminster needs a store that sells good, moderately priced furniture.

After finding investors and a new location, the former manager of the Furniture Station -- which closed in December -- is back in business.

This time, he's operating Furniture Place on Route 27, in the former Kegel's store.

"When my previous employer decided to close his store, it made it necessary for me to seek other employment," the Westminster resident said. "I began talking to other furniture store owners to see what was available, and one of them told me he was interested in starting a small store in Westminster.

"There is still a great deal of potential growth in this market."

So, Mr. Zalis and three other Baltimore-area investors quietly opened the new 6,000-square-foot showroom on Feb. 15.

Their grand opening is planned for the first week of March.

"We still have a lot of product to get in, especially the art and pictures that make the place look so much better," he said.

Their plan is to start small, hiring only four people to handle all aspects of the store, which will sell everything from bedroom sets to televisions.

"We're going to run this the old-fashioned way," Mr. Zalis said. "Years and years ago, the sales person did everything from sales to filling out credit applications to running the register. We want to start out small and, hopefully, the staff will grow as the business grows."

Mr. Zalis said the company also plans to stress customer service.

"We will try to have the best price, but the one thing that will make a difference will be good service," he said. "We want people to enjoy their shopping experience. They are making a purchase that will be with them for a long time, so they'd better be happy with it.

"If problems arise, we are prepared to take care of them quickly and efficiently, and do whatever it takes to take care of it smoothly and without objections."

Working with manufacturers who treat their distributors well makes customer service easier, Mr. Zalis said.

"When manufacturers are known for giving service to the people they deal with, the store can turn around and give that service to the customer," he said.

"He can serve the people without having to fight the company to get something for the customer."

Mr. Zalis said customer service is important to him because he lives in the county.

"It's not like I drive 50 miles away to get home and then this is all foreign to me," he said. "When I'm in the grocery store and see Mrs. Jones, I don't want her to say, 'You no good so-and-so that took me for this.'

"I want her to say, 'Hi, how are you? I'm glad I ran into you.'

"I'm still dealing with my neighbors."

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