“I may not remember their name, but I recognize their face, and I know what their living room looks like.” This is the superpower of Susan Monroe, owner of Three Chairs Co., currently celebrating twenty years on Ashley St.
“It’s a tough place for retail,” Monroe says, “but somehow we’re doing it.”
Monroe, like all of her sales team, began as an interior designer. Experiences in product development and designing showrooms for Herman Miller stores in Manhattan and Hollywood compelled her to design a store of her own. Three Chairs opened in Holland, Michigan in 1996 and expanded to Ann Arbor four years later.
With the Herman Miller chairs in the front window, a passerby might take a glance and assume it’s an office furniture firm. Three Chairs has outfitted a few downtown offices, but Monroe says most of their customers are individuals and families as well as other interior designers.
She thinks of her team as “problem solvers,” often visiting a customer’s house and identifying traffic flow before suggesting furniture to improve it. Suppliers include American Leather, Gus* (whose modern pieces can be covered in “vegan leather”), Lee Industries, Copeland Furniture, and Gat Creek.
“Kind of our whole drumbeat is quality furniture, good warranties, and you’ll be back,” Monroe says.
Three Chairs Co., 215 S. Ashley, (734) 665-2786. Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m. threechairs.com