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From the company’s founding, to helping people furnish their homes during all of life’s major milestones, family is at the heart of Darvin Furniture.

The company was born in 1920 when Louis Darvin, who arrived in Chicago from Poland, started selling furniture door to door. By the 1940s, he opened the first retail operation for the family; Darvin Furniture & Appliance, located at 648 W.120th St. in Chicago.

The business grew with Louis bringing on board his son, David, and in the 1970s, David’s sons, Steve and Marty, joined the business as the third generation working in the family’s furniture firm. In 1980, the business moved to its current location in Orland Park.

Family is important to Darvin Furniture for a lot of reasons,” said Darvin Furniture President Will Harris. The process of buying furniture as a result of a new union, as a result of a marriage, a death, a divorce, or something has happened where someone is moving.”

In addition to that, family is important to Darvin internally as well,” added Harris. Many of our long-time employees are related: mothers and fathers and cousins and brothers and uncles. We all work together here at Darvin Furniture.”

The business, in fact, is now owned by its employees. In 2020, Darvin became an employee-owned company, naming and Harris president to oversee store operations, with Steve Darvin now serving as CEO and Marty Darvin as chairman of the board.

Darvin Furniture is recognized as Chicagoland’s biggest furniture retailer, and its 200,000 square-feet of showroom space would dwarf its original Chicago store which was a 5,000 square-foot facility. Despite the growth, Harris said the culture and the DNA of Darvin Furniture have remained constant.

In a lot of furniture stores, every customer is a new customer because they tend not to bring people back,” Harris continued to say. To Darvin, customer service and what happens at the end of the delivery cycle are some of the most important things that make Darvin Furniture special.  We work very hard to retain that customer for the long run, and indeed, one of the things driving this place is 100 years of customers returning to the company. We are part of their life cycle.”

The process of selecting and purchasing furniture, and making it a memorable experience for the customer, is a top priority for the 300 employees who work at Darvin. Customers can walk the showroom floor and discover many of the industry’s finest name brands such as Smith Brothers, Century, King Hickory, Flexsteel, and Bassett.

We have over 55,000 items in stock at our distribution center,” Harris said. That’s a tremendous resource. The biggest challenge and biggest opportunity we have had since the pandemic is supply chain-related,” Harris said. It turned out that it was a wonderful advantage to Darvin, because we were the first ones to have rightsized in our industry. But the ongoing challenge we have is always making sure we have the most exciting products, what is new, and what is exciting for our customers.”

Harris says strategic marketing helps Darvin Furniture share its brand far and wide, but a key to the marketing success at Darvin is the retailer’s diverse approach to its advertising and digital engagement.

If we look at where retailing was 20 or 30 years ago, they used to say you’ve got to hit them three times, and the third time they come in,” Harris said. Because information has become so pervasive, it is really more than three times. We see things whether we are on Instagram or Facebook. We get hit with ads constantly. So, we need to meet them in different areas. Now, a customer might hear us on the radio, see us on TV, or receive our direct mail piece. But they may not come in until they have an interaction, a personal interaction, with one of our employees like at a football game, where we gave them a card.”

The footprint of Darvin Furniture in the community can be seen throughout the Chicagoland. The retailer sponsors a wide range of local sports teams and supports nonprofits with donations to community education and local services.

I think being part of the community is one of the most important things that Darvin Furniture does,” says Harris. There are a lot of different ways we are part of the community. We just put in a sensory room at the Orland Park Library. We have a program with the South Suburbia Crisis Center. We have a team running in the Irish Fest Road Race.”

I love being a retailer because of the interaction with the consumer and the variety of customers we have here in Chicagoland,” Harris stressed. Darvin Furniture is home to everybody in this area. We get to meet everybody, and we get to meet them so often at these important points in their lives. I think it is the best part about being in retail and the best part about being in furniture retail is the interaction with our consumers.”

As Harris walked the showroom floor, you could see customer’s whispering to each other and pointing and saying, “There’s Mr. Harris.” He is a celebrity in a city of celebrities because of his presence in the world of Chicago mass media and the special connection held for Darvin Furniture across multiple generations.

Darvin Furniture is one of those special businesses. Someone moving to Chicagoland, someone moving to Illinois, should get the opportunity to experience Darvin Furniture,” Harris modestly boasted. They need to come here, see what this is all about, and find out why people have been coming here for 104 years.”

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