By Kelley Stanage
Caledonia resident Mike Colleran opened Warehouse Home Furnishings in La Crosse in October of 2012. When he started out, business was slow, mostly because people didn’t know he was there. It’s easy to understand why. The store is off the beaten path, tucked into an industrial park on Gillette Street, a block from Rose Avenue. But that’s part of the beauty of Colleran’s business model: keeping prices low for customers.
“Everybody else has the big location by the mall or they have the fancy store with a bar or restaurant. And, who’s paying for that? The customer’s going to pay,” he said.
Colleran’s idea is that if he can keep his overhead costs lower, he can pass those savings along to the customer.
Colleran figures that most people don’t make a big furniture purchase on the spur of the moment. They look on the internet and shop around. “People are starting to realize we sell the same products they can buy at the bigger stores, but they’ll pay significantly less, sometimes half price,” he said.
Customers can purchase anything Ashley Furniture Industries makes (over 6,000 SKUs) through Warehouse Home Furnishings. If Colleran doesn’t have it in stock, he can typically get it within one or two days if Ashley has it in stock. Delivery is free within 60 miles. Symbol mattresses, made in Watertown, Wis., are also available.
When he talked about competing in a big box retail environment, Colleran pointed out a key difference: “We’ll deal. We’ll match any price as long as we’re talking about the same product. We’ll give you the best deal we can. If you’re buying a whole furniture set, we’ll throw something in for free. Something to make you feel good about it – the way it used to be,” he said.
There is also a section of the store with overstock, closeout and “scratch and dent” products, offering even deeper discounts.
An arrangement with Salvation Army allows customers to donate their old furniture. Other stores sometimes offer customers a “trade-in” discount, which they can do because their prices are inflated to begin with, Colleran said. And, they typically resell it. Colleran’s approach provides two benefits, Salvation Army gets the furniture, and the customer can take the deduction on their taxes.
Awareness is growing via word of mouth, as well as their Facebook page.
Warehouse Home Furnishings is located at 709 Gillette Street #5 in La Crosse, one block east of Rose Street by A1 Glass. Hours are Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., and any other time by appointment. Call 608-769-4242 for appointments, or visit warehousehomefurnishings.net.