WAVERLY — If Neighborhood Home sounds like a friendly business, that’s because the Waverly furniture store owners take measures to put their customers first.
“We realized we had an opportunity to be able to help people save money on things that would really improve their lives,” said owner Matthew Schneider.
He and his wife, Amy, own the retail store. The couple make a point to be honest in a business that is in a position to take advantage of customers, Matthew said.
“We think of the customer. Nothing else other than that really matters.”
The Schneiders handle business differently and recognize their platform to provide for customers at a reasonable price.
“We charge what we have to charge, not what we can,” Matthew said.
Lower prices can create an “image problem,” he explained, and customers can become skeptical about the furniture’s quality.
Amy takes time to explain to customers that lower prices might mean a shorter product life, for example.
“I think people like knowing you’re not going to try selling it just for the price,” Amy said.
Maintaining low prices is sometimes a collaborative effort. The Schneiders allow pickup after hours. Customers also help with the loading process, sometimes hauling a piece themselves if they have a truck.
The owners do charge a delivery fee, but that cost factors into paying less for the piece itself.
The Schneiders previously owned Neighborhood Closet, a consignment store that morphed into their current furniture store.
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The couple had some experience selling mattresses and used furniture at the secondhand store. However, road construction at their storefront hindered business and selling donated furniture wasn’t working. When those two factors added up, they decided to make a change.
“We started to supplement with new (furniture) and that’s kind of when that took off,” Matthew said. “Then we changed the brand name.”
After a period of testing and importing furniture from various stores, the Schneiders formulated conditions for the furniture. They wanted U.S. manufacturers in close shipping proximity to keep costs low, which brought them to their current supplier, Ashley’s Furniture.
In 2011, the consignment store moved to its current Neighborhood Home location in Waverly.
“I don’t even think the customers or us even knew we were doing it, it was so gradual,” Matthew noted.
He also pointed to the decreased environmental impact by not importing products from overseas, and the tax base benefits for shopping local.
“Jeff Bezos (CEO and president of Amazon) isn’t going to do some of the local fundraising, nor (is he) going to contribute as much tax-wise to the local schools,” Matthew said.
Another cost reducing decision eliminated a warehouse, and employees work hard to manage every facet of the store.
The Schneiders cost-efficient methods trickle down to the customer’s wallet. Dollars saved through their criteria means dollars saved for customers.
“Customers kind of like low prices, we found out,” Matthew said, laughing.
The couple also owns four other stores in Iowa, which they or other managers try to visit once a week. The furniture stores employs 54 individuals company-wide with about 15 at the their main location in Waverly.