Buying furniture is not as easy as food shopping.
Shoppers need to consider cost, functionality, style, and service when shopping for furniture. Best Furniture Gallery in Fort Thomas has been helping Northern Kentuckians with their furniture needs for 81 years, and the current owners have owned it for 20.
Charlie Best founded Best Furniture Gallery in 1941 in a small shop in the center of Fort Thomas. Best sold electronics and repaired radios in a tiny showroom. He also sold furniture and appliances. Best put the business on hold after the United States entered World War II. Charlie and his wife, Eva, bought land in the Midway Business District on the South end of Fort Thomas in 1945 after the war ended.
Best wanted to build a two-story structure that would house Best Furniture on the ground floor and an upstairs apartment for Charlie and Eva. He oversaw the construction of what would be Best Furniture Gallery’s first building. Later, Best built a second building adjacent to the original, and the business eventually moved to the second building.
Charlie and Eva operated the business until 1982, when they sold it to Floyd and Carole Cameron. The Camerons updated the showroom and added several new furniture brands to complement the existing lineup.
The Camerons sold Best Furniture Gallery to Craig and Carolynn Reis in May 2002.
Carolynn and Craig met in 1993 when they were college students. Craig studied Marketing and Entrepreneurial Studies at Xavier University. Carolynn majored in Spanish Civilization at the University of Cincinnati. Both were born and raised in Cincinnati and still live there. But the couple has been part of the Fort Thomas community for 20 years.
“I grew up in the furniture business so I guess it’s in my blood,” Craig said. “My dad was a furniture manufacturer’s representative and he started selling to the Best family back in 1969.”
When he was a college student, Craig worked for one of his father’s accounts in Cincinnati, a high-end store. Craig developed a love of quality home furnishings and knew he eventually wanted to own a furniture store. He worked in the field after he graduated, and Carolynn helped Craig during special sales.
“In 2000, my dad told me that the Camerons would soon be looking to retire and sell their store in Fort Thomas and thought it would be a good fit for what we wanted to do, which was to own a single-store home furnishings business that focused on quality American-Crafted products,” Craig said. “So, after researching, doing a business plan, and talking multiple times with the Camerons, we were able to make our dream a reality and took over the business in 2002. The rest is history I guess.”
In 2003, Carolynn and Craig purchased the building adjacent to Best Furniture Gallery, which ironically was the original store owned and lived in by the Bests back in 1945. In 2006, they combined the two buildings into one. They then updated and significantly expanded the showroom and constructed a brand new façade as part of a major exterior renovation. Combining the buildings transformed Best Furniture Gallery into an 18,000-square-foot business. They also have a warehouse near Ludlow Airport.
Craig and Carolynn are very selective about the furniture that they stock. They focus on quality, comfort, and style.
The vast majority of the furniture they sell is North American-made.
“We have many manufacturers located in North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Michigan, and Illinois. It makes you feel good to know that you are helping to support family businesses that have the same philosophies you hold,” Craig said.
Their inventory includes Amish furniture from Ohio. Some of their products come from abroad, such as the ergonomic Stressless Furniture by Ekornes in Norway.
In most furniture stores, what you see is what you get. Best Furniture Gallery is a furniture and design center. They offer customization; for example, some of their sofas offer customers a choice of three different depths.
“We literally have thousands of fabrics in hundreds of thousands of combinations to choose from,” Carolynn said. “We even have companies that will customize the frame size to accommodate a customer’s specific need and that’s pretty amazing when you think about it.”
Their products include living room, dining room, bedroom, home office, and accent furniture. And they always focus on quality.
“We have the philosophy that we wouldn’t sell anything to our customers that we wouldn’t personally have in our own home,” Carolynn said.
The store has lots of floor space dedicated to accessories, accents, and gift items.
“Putting that finishing touch on a room is often the most exciting part of working with a client,” Carolynn said. “When people walk through our doors, they’re going to be greeted by a designer that is not only knowledgeable about style and color, which are extremely important, but our staff will also be able to advise the customer on the quality, history, and functionality of the product they’re buying. We are very mindful of how the furniture will be used and we want the client to be as happy with their purchase three years down the road as they are when it is first delivered.”
They focus on building long-term relationships.
“We are not looking to sell a customer some furniture once and then move on. It’s our goal to build a long, trusted relationship with customers that will last a lifetime,” Craig said.
Best Furniture Gallery has an in-house delivery team. They deliver five days a week and call their customers the evening before they deliver to provide them with a two-hour time window.
Craig and Carolynn focus on providing excellent customer service. Their staff of 10 (which includes them) strives to give customers a great experience. Alma Rohrer has worked for the store as a designer for 38 years.
“I’m always amazed at how well Alma can help a couple in their thirties with their first big furniture purchase, and then turn around and help create a gorgeous updated space for someone in their seventies. That’s a true talent,” Carolynn said.
They have Design Consultants who are willing to go to their customers’ homes to help them decide which furniture to purchase.
“We think that again, the total ‘Experience’ is what sets us apart from the competition. I know this sounds cliché, but we can talk about this in detail when we meet. We have lots of examples of how we got the extra mile for each customer,” Craig said.
Best Furniture Gallery draws customers from Kentucky and Ohio. Some of their customers purchase furniture for second homes that they have out of state.
“We have remained successful by focusing on an experience that is hard to find in today’s marketplace. We develop a real relationship with the customer. The attention to detail and customer focus is always at the forefront of our minds,” Craig said. “Everyone in our organization knows that the customer has to have an amazing experience from the moment they walk through the doors, until the time our delivery professionals leave their home. We focus on quality, American-crafted home furnishings and offer almost limitless customization options.”
If you go
Best Furniture Gallery
1123 South Fort Thomas Avenue, Fort Thomas
Hours: Monday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday by appointment only, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The store is closed on Sunday.