Amish furniture on Jackson
The Narowskis expand their niche
Wladyslaw and Nell Narowski started out online selling big tables-really, really big tables. "They go from a five-foot table that seats six and expand up to twenty-two feet and seat twenty-four," says Nell.
Size was important because the Narowskis' first customers were a niche market: large families who homeschooled their kids and wanted to expand their dinner table into a work space. The tables-along with living room and bedroom furniture-are on display in the couple's new store, Amish Furniture Home Showroom, which opened on Jackson Road in early October.
The Narowskis came across the Amish-made tables a little over ten years ago in a Christian community in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They negotiated with Amish woodworkers and began selling the tables online. Wladyslaw, a self-taught woodworker who built custom-made furniture in the 1970s, taught the Amish how to make detachable legs for easier shipping.
Business picked up when the Narowskis started traveling to homeschooling conferences. Soon their customer base expanded to people who wanted to be able to entertain extended families during the holidays. Over the years they've added chairs, bedroom sets, living room pieces, and even a cabinet that can hold a plasma TV.
They still do the bulk of their business online, but the showroom gives people a chance to see the furniture. It's all still handmade by the Amish, but these days the Narowskis contract with Amish woodworkers in northern Indiana. Nell says their working relationships were a little confused at first. "When we first started, they were all sharing the telephone booth, and they didn't have fax machines," she laughs. Now their Amish partners have accepted using cell phones and fax machines for business. "We've come a long way," Nell says. "We could never do this by mail."
Amish Furniture Home Showroom, 4844 Jackson Road, suite 100, 997-3201. Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and by appointment. amish-furniture-home.com.
[Originally published in November, 2008.]