Whether considering a single room or an entire dwelling, a space should communicate the personality of its occupant. From the furniture to the fixtures, the accessories to the arrangement, every part of the way a space is composed affects its feel. And while most people have a good sense of themselves, many are less comfortable translating that individuality into décor. Finding a partner endowed with creative ideas and equipped with the resources to bring them into being can make all the difference in turning a roomful of furniture into exactly the kind of space that makes a person feel at home—a partner like Fairfield Galleries.
Founded in 1945 as a furniture store, Fairfield Galleries has evolved into a unique, full-service enterprise that offers customers everything from design advice to custom woodworking. Designer Arianna Vonderohe explains, “We’re focused on helping people create an environment that is comfortable and functional, a place where you would want to live. It’s not about just selling furniture.”
Of course, Fairfield Galleries does sell furniture, but the services it offers alongside are what keep customers coming back. What may begin as a typical shopping trip for a customer looking for a sofa or a dining room set often ends in a long-term relationship. It all starts with a simple conversation.
“We ask questions to get to know the customer and what he needs,” explains sales associate Pete Byal. “We have a lot of information that we’ve gained through experience. We like to share it when people want help.”
Those conversations often result in a home visit by one of the designers on the Fairfield Galleries staff. A trip to help with measurements or deliver fabric swatches can blossom into much more when the customer recognizes the value of the resource.
“We help with colors, floor coverings, fixtures, furniture placement, and even hang pictures,” says Vonderohe. “We view the home as a palette where we can help create something.”
Byal adds, “Besides the look, we take functionality into account. We consider how people are actually going to live in the space.”
The results speak for themselves. Customer Anne Seaton is so pleased with the outcome that she intends to tap into Fairfield’s expertise for a second project: “Arianna turned my blah, mish-mash bedroom, into a beautiful calming oasis. Every time I step in my room, I feel like I am at a resort. She listened to my ideas, requests, and needs, and tempered those with her design expertise. She gave me choices and was more concerned with keeping me on budget than I was. Arianna brought in design features and colors I wouldn’t have put together, while staying true to my vision. I love the outcome and total design experience so much, I can’t wait to get her started on turning our basement into a modern, fun teen hangout.”
Seaton’s experience is not unusual; customers frequently return to Fairfield Galleries as new projects arise, even from outside the immediate area. The company has completed whole-house projects as far away as Florida and Arizona to accommodate clients who did not want to give up service they know and trust.
It isn’t revenue that leads Fairfield Galleries to offer more than furniture; it is born from a desire to build long-term relationships. Owner Don Polley explains, “We don’t want just a one-time purchaser; we want a lifetime purchaser. Besides, it’s nice to get a hug from someone who bought a chair from you.”
Polley has fostered a culture of taking care of customers, which has even led the company to offer custom wood furniture to ensure a client can realize exactly the look he has in mind. “People are not only looking for better quality, they also have more specific ideas about what they want,” explains Polley. “Tastes have become more individualized. People want something that fits their space and is just for them.”
Fairfield Galleries works directly with a furniture craftsman to fulfill clients’ needs. They’ve provided a floating bed, entertainment centers that are custom to the individual components, corner units, a space-specific laundry depot, and even seats for a recreational vehicle.
“We’re doing more of it all the time, both smaller and bigger pieces,” says Polley. “We handle all kinds of styles, and it’s not as expensive as people think. It’s actually pretty reasonable.”
Not only does the range of services offered by Fairfield Galleries come as a surprise to the store’s first-time visitors, so does the fact that many of those services are complimentary. It all goes back to the desire to foster long-term customer relationships.
“Some families have come to us for three generations because we go above and beyond in every aspect,” says Polley. “We do a lot more than a typical furniture store.”
Although Polley calls Fairfield Galleries the area’s best kept secret, its reputation is spreading. One customer notes, “Fairfield Galleries is 90 miles from our home, but we have always heard such positive things that we decided to ignore the distance. [The designer’s] advice was spot on and the house turned out to be stunning.”
Of course, customers who just want to visit the store to look for furniture should not feel they have to take advantage of the other services offered by Fairfield Galleries. Byal emphasizes, “We give people help when they want it; we’re not high pressure. We’re a furniture store with a strong orientation toward design. It’s just something people have to experience for themselves.”
Whether a customer needs a piece of furniture, full-scale design services, or anything in between, Fairfield Galleries can handle it all.
Owner(s): Don Polley
Address: 5010 US 33 North Fort Wayne, Indiana 46818
Phone: (260) 489-5526