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Quality Keeps Long-Standing Smithtown Furniture Store Afloat

A&E Unpainted Furniture has been selling furniture on Main Street for more than 40 years with no signs of stopping.

In the age of Ikea and affordable furniture available at Walmart and other department stores, Smithtown's  has lasted the test of time, selling solid wood furniture in the town for more than 40 years.

Owner Ralph Kleister, who owns the business with his father and teacher of the trade Alfred, said the longevity is attributed to the quality of the product sold.

"We’re cabinetmakers ourselves. We don’t want to sell junk, we just want to sell something that is going to be good quality and people can enjoy and use for a long time," Ralph said.

The Kleister's purchased the business from its previous owner back in 1972, a business that has been open on Main Street since the 1950s.

Between the four walls of the store you could find tables, chairs, stools, hutches, entertainment units and more, all made from solid wood or strong plywood, not from particle board with a fake veneer. The products sold also require no customer assembly.

Being open for so many years has allowed the business to develop generations of families as its main customer base.

"We get people in here whose parents bought them furniture here 30 years ago and they’re buying furniture for their kids and grandkids now," Ralph said.

Ralph said A&E is one of the last unfinished furniture stores around, mostly due to the availability of cheaper alternatives. However, having cheaper alternatives that don't last as long as solid wood furniture has increased their customer base.

"We are one of the unfinished furniture stores left around because there are people who just look at the price, they don’t look at the quality," he said. "But those are usually our best customers because they get tired of throwing stuff out they eventually get something here that will last more than a couple months or a year or two."

While the store has survived a fluctuating economy and an influx of cheaper furniture alternatives, money isn't the only thing keeping doors open at A&E. Ralph and his father have a tremendous sense of pride in the products they sell.

"When the customer picks it up and they say we did a good job and it came out better than they thought it would, that’s probably the most fulfilling thing," Ralph said. "We try always to do as good as we tell the customer or even a little bit better. We try to make everybody as happy as we can."

MN August 31, 2012 at 09:38 PM
My son is using my desk that my parents bought me in the 70's.

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