Selling furniture with a smile

Photo by Jody Isaackson Larson’s Home Furnishing’s manager of 24 years, Alan Schuch, says that employees at his store have longevity and a belief in the store’s motto of “Quality. Service. Price.” Consistency and the latest styles also help make this company a major player with many return customers over the years.

MARSHALL — Alan Schuch has a simple philosophy when it comes to selling furniture — wake up every morning with a smile.

He believes in greeting people warmly, even when it’s cold outside.

“Whenever I’m asked what I do for a living,” Schuch said, “I say, ‘I’m in the people business. I just happen to be selling furniture.’ “

Schuch has been manager at Larson’s Home Furnishings on East College Drive for 24 years.

Longevity is pretty much a tradition at Larson’s, according to Schuch.

There have been four generations of Larsons to own the company, Schuch said.

Beginning in 1908, Lars Larson opened his store, Larson Furniture and Undertaking, in downtown Mobridge, South Dakota.

In 1939, Eddie Larson, Sr. established Larson’s Furniture and Undertaking Service in Kenyon, Minnesota, second generation.

In 1949, Eddie Larson, Jr. and Ed Larson Sr. moved the store from Kenyon to Redwood Falls and established Larson’s Home Furnishings, third generation.

In 1974, Scott Larson joined the store in Redwood Falls as the fourth generation.

The consistency also shows through in the tenure of employees. Sales people have been at Larson’s for 25 to over 30 years, according to Schuch. And warehouse and delivery personnel have been there over 10 to 15 years.

Managers tend to have longevity as well. In addition to Schuch’s personal best of 26 years overall and 24 in the manager’s seat, there have been just three others since they opened in 1955.

G.C. “Pick” Johnson was there five years, from 1955 to 1960.

Gordy Regnier was there 30 years, from 1960 to 1990.

Ron Tammen was there from 1990 to 1993.

Schuch came on board in 1994 and is still there.

Larson’s Home Furnishings opened its first store in 1949 in Redwood Falls and expanded to Marshall in 1955 at a four-story building on the corner of Fourth and Main.

After the flood in Marshall in 1957, the downtown location was no longer suitable for the furniture company. In 1968 the Marshall store moved to its current location on East College Drive where it enjoys larger sales floor space and more picture window space.

Schuch said economic factors such as agriculture and gas prices affect small businesses. Floods, new developments and politics, too, Schuch said.

“Elected officials, transportation costs and how crops turn out affect retailers,” he said.

Economy in Marshall had a “big boom” in the 2002 to 2006 era, Schuch said.

Schuch said styles have changed quite a bit through the years, but nothing in the industry has changed more than the way furniture is shipped and received. In the early days, Schuch said salesmen would go up to St. Paul and visit a jobber — a furniture wholesaler who could get product from the few factories out there — and bring them back to sell.

The railroad made transportation easier.

Now, Larson’s Home Furnishings can receive everything by truck, according to Schuch.

Schuch believes in healthy competition.

“I’ve never said anything bad about my competitors,” he said. “Competition is always welcome. It brings more people to town. We don’t knock heads. We just do what we do best. We strive to get along with all competitors because we’re all trying to do the same thing: help people get what they want in their homes.”