BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – After being in the family business for close to three decades, Tommy Burner has opened his own furniture outlet on Avenue G.
His family has been in the furniture business with outlets in Fort Madison and Burlington for almost 35 years. Burner’s new location at 734 Avenue G, is the third location the Burner’s have had in Fort Madison.
A fire destroyed the family’s first business at 15th and G, and then they moved operations downtown until they moved it to the current facility at the corner of Main and Harrison in Burlington.
The new location at 734 Avenue G, opened just before the end of the year and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and by appointment.
Burner said this is the first time he’s been the owner of the business and things have been moving quickly.
“We opened up the third week of December,” he said. “We signed the papers on Tuesday and by the next Tuesday we had four trucks of furniture in the store.”
He said his family’s history in the furniture business has been an asset moving forward.
“Dad is really helping me out a lot. I wouldn’t be able to do this without their help. They’re focusing on just new furniture now and the moving service. But we really missed being in Fort Madison,” Burner said.
After the fire, Burner said he managed the one at 717 Avenue G for about 2.5 years where his father Tom, was providing the inventory,.
“My whole life I’ve been involved with the business. As a boy, I used to do my homework at the auction. It was common to see me at the auctions Corey Fraise used to do out on Ortho Road, with a book. I’d do my homework there and then help load trucks for dad and Francis Holmes,” Burner said
Burner said all the inventory at the new location is used furniture with the exception of new bed mattresses and box springs.
The used furniture has been repaired in some cases and cleaned up and sold at rates competitive to some of the furniture kits you can get at box stores.
“There’s a lot of people realizing that this furniture is better than the pressed wood products,” he said. “The majority of our business is people who come in here and say, ‘well, this is the same price as some of the pressed wood stuff’, and it’s solid wood and will hold up for generations.”
He said owning the business is a lot different that being on the delivery crew or managing the operations for someone else.
“This is a bit more overwhelming being in charge of buying and selling. I have to watch my spending a whole lot more, but if you want to run a successful business you have to take the bad with the good,” Burner said.
He said he thinks business is going well in the downtown area, but he said he would like to have a store front eventually that has more parking. Everything that comes or leaves the store has to go out the front because he has no alley access.
The store can be reached at 319-372-7313 and by Facebook at the following link: https://www.facebook.com/FortMadisonFurniture319/
Burner said he also is in the market for bidding on estate property for people who don’t want to haul property around the area after a loved one passes.