Seven years ago an Amish craftsman walked into Fairfield Galleries and said, “I build furniture. Is there anything I can do for you?”
Thus began the relationship of building custom furniture that makes Fairfield Galleries unique among Fort Wayne furniture stores.
“I think that’s what sets us apart,” says Don Polley, owner of the store at 5010 Goshen Road. Carrying a full line of furnishings from national firms like Bernhardt, Century, Hancock and Moore, and C.R.Laine, Fairfield Galleries sells both high-end and moderately priced furniture.
“We try to provide better quality furniture at the customers’ price range,” Polley says.
He invited the craftsman to make something for the store, and the relationship began. That very first entertainment center that he built is still one of the best-selling pieces in the showroom, an example of the custom design that makes Fairfield Galleries unique in the field of home furnishings in Fort Wayne.
Customers have enthusiastically embraced the chance to get the high-quality custom designed pieces. “One couple came in looking for pieces for their home office. We did the full office. Then they wanted end tables for the living room and then an entertainment center,” Polley recalls. “We like to be able to help people furnish their homes to fit their needs, styles and functions.”
He says customers may come in looking for unique pieces that fit their needs that they haven’t found in other stores. “Maybe they have a bedroom set and they need another nightstand to match, or a specific piece that needs to be a certain size,” he adds, flipping the pages of a three-ring binder holding pictures of dozens of end tables, sofa tables, desks, cabinets, chests, bookcases, wine cabinets, and wall units.
Polley, whose grandfather opened Fairfield Galleries in 1945, also shows examples of pieces created to match or complement already existing furniture in customers’ homes, and even a few in his own home.
“Customers will sometimes come in with a photo of a piece that they want to use in the same room,” says interior designer Arianna Vonderohe, who has been with the company for four years.
“Or we can go out and help them decide what will fit best or what finish they’re looking for. I go out and take photos and measurements and we talk about what the customer wants.”
National furniture chains have offered customers the chance to create dining tables and chairs with various design elements. “That’s very common,” Polley said. The difference in what his store offers is well made, solid wood, expertly finished furniture that is unique to the customer’s needs and goes beyond what most companies can offer. He also notes that consumers have become more concerned about where and how their furniture is made.
At Fairfield Galleries, “you’ll know where your furniture was crafted, the kinds of conditions people worked in to produce your furniture, and the locations where your furniture’s materials were sourced from,” Polley adds.
“And the price is comparable to what we can order from imports.”
Between ordering a piece of furniture and receiving the finished product, Pete Byal, who has been with Fairfield Galleries since 1983, puts his design skills to work creating the drawings for the item a customer wants.
“Pete has a really good eye,” says Polley.
The drawings become furniture at the hands of the Amish craftsman who does his woodworking north of Fort Wayne. He works in oak, maple and cherry woods.
Polley says the furniture then moves to the finisher. “We can do any finish the customer wants…paint, stain.”
The entire process generally takes about eight weeks.
“You get it your way. You make all the choices,” says Byal, whose 35 years of experience cover both sales and design. “You get quality. Even the underside of the table is smooth. It’s great value.”
Owner(s): Don Polley
Address: 5010 Goshen Road Fort Wayne, Indiana 46818
Phone: (260) 489-5526
Years in Business: 73
Number of Employees: 14
Products & Services: Interior design services as well as high-end to moderately-priced furniture and custom wood pieces.