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Brothers to keep furniture store open

LOCK HAVEN — Brothers Jim and Jeff Smith have a unique tradition to uphold.

Their Smith Furniture store is Clinton County’s oldest furniture and reupholstery shop, opened by their late father during World War II in 1942.

And they’re determined.

Destroyed by a collapse caused by heavy snow from Winter Storm Gale just before Christmas, what was Smith Furniture in Dunnstown will rise from the rubble, but at a new location along Eagle Valley Road-Route 150 outside of Mill Hall.

“We intend to stay in business, it’s just a question of where we will be,” Jim Smith declared to The Express this week.

The space — inside the former Eagle Valley Bargains next to Calico Creek — is not formally open yet, but appointments can be made.

“We’re not yet sure exactly where we’re going to be long-term. We moved some of the furniture we were able to rescue. If somebody calls, for example and is interested in seeing something we have we can meet them by appointment,” he said.

Jim and Jeff are working diligently; Jim’s been a hard guy to get ahold of as he prepares for his new location.

“We’re not going to be regularly open until possibly the end of the month. We don’t know yet for sure, we just have to get some things prepared,” he said.

The roof collapse at the Dunnstown location is being dealt with through their insurance, thus the possible temporary nature of the new store.

They plan to tear down what’s left of the former store later this week.

Jeff has headed the upholstery and repair part of the business and plans are still up in the air if that will continue.

“There are a lot of insurance factors that have got to be entered into it. At this point a lot of thing aren’t decided. As a result, we’re not sure yet where we’re heading long term.

“We could end up here or there,” Jim said of where the store will find a permanent home.

Smith’s conviction to forge ahead is evident in his tone.

But more importantly, Jim points to one blessing from this misfortune.

“This is the greatest Christmas gift we got this year: That (the collapse) happened in the middle of the night and no one was hurt. It would have killed people,” he said of the destruction. “The trusses gave way and fell in the middle of the store. We’re so fortunate no one was hurt or worse.”

Despite rumors, he and his brother have no plans to “retire.”

Their brotherhood is a “partnership” after all, he said.

“We’re not planning on closing up or retiring or anything like that,” he emphasized. “We’re planning to keep the business around.”

His dad, Russell, would be proud.

It was Russell who started the business in Lock Haven “maybe around 1942,” Jim remembered.

“It was in town in Lock Haven. Then … by about 1948 … he built a store in Dunnstown in the location where the roof just collpased,” he recalled.

“He had some ill health and so I got involved more because he couldn’t. I worked at the store off and on since I was in high school. While I was teaching I worked for years in the business,” he added.

The business features a “full line of furniture for homes and offices, plus mattresses and beds.”

“We have a lot of furniture for the entire home, furniture and bedding, no appliances,” he explained.

The collapse of the building along Woodward Avenue in Wooodward Township was extensive.

“What the roof fell on is done. That’s destroyed pretty much. But the part of the roof that did not collapse, we were able to get (furniture) out and save it,” he said.

Jim made it an important point in telling The Express that the help he received from the wrestling team and coaches at Central Mountain High School has meant the world to he and Jeff.

They helped move furniture salvaged from the collapse to the new location.

“There was quite a few of them and they did a terrific job … just terrific. They handled things very well and we’re so grateful,” he said. “We had a crew in both buildings to pull out and take in and it just worked out really well. One of the coaches was at each place… Biff Walizer and Doug Buckwalter and their wrestlers.”

Meanwhile, Smith said his business is taking orders.

The store has the name number — 570-748-5587.

“Customers can call us to find what they’re looking for or go online at https://smith-furn.com/.

“We are in the process of getting new catalogues. Basically what’s in the catalogues though are on the websites of these same companies so we can review things with them that way.”

Smith concedes that, because of COVID-19, furniture shipping has been slow. That should eventually change, he said.

“We want to thank our customers for their patience in our current situation. We have customers who are waiting and maybe customers who want to come in and buy and order and we have some that say they’re waiting until we reopen. We have very loyal customers and we want to thank all of them for their loyalty,” he said.

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