Tommy and Steve Strickland believe in family. The brothers own Strickland’s Furniture, which was named the best furniture store in 2017 Best of the Pine Belt voting.
The brothers took over the store, which is now located at 6431 U.S. Hwy. 49, from their father. O.E. Strickland started the furniture store in 1962 in Downtown Hattiesburg.
For the Stricklands, having a family-owned business drives the success of Strickland’s.
“We’re family-oriented too,” Tommy Strickland said. “Our people have been with us for a long time. Amy, our secretary, has been with us for 20 years. Lisa, our saleswoman, has been with us 17 years; another one has been with us for 15 years. Another one is 10 years. We’re a close-knit family group that takes care of the customer. It’s a little unusual to have employees who work with you for so long.”
Having a staff that believes in the business and in each other makes selling furniture easier, Strickland said.
“Working in an office together, you work close,” he said. “You have to have a good staff. And we are all on the same page when it comes to selling furniture.
Amy Lucas, who oversees the office side of the store, said the Stricklands are a family and they see their employees as family members.
“I love the Stricklands because they are like family,” said the 20-year employee. “They are just wonderful people to work for. I couldn’t ask for better; they’re my family.”
The family also reaches outside the furniture store’s walls.
“Strickland’s is your hometown furniture retailer and our community is important to us,” the company website states. “We are active in supporting many local schools and clubs. We appreciate the community and help in any way we can.”
Strickland said the customers have become
part of the store’s family because they have returned to shop for more furniture.
“We’ve got really, really good customers,” he said. “They come back because their mother and father bought here and their grandparents bought here. What makes me feel bad is I remember when their grandfather bought their first furniture. That’s the good part of having a family business because everyone who comes into the store is family too. They recognize the name and they recognize the people in here because it’s the same people every time.”
The best way to keep customers coming back is with good customer service, Strickland said.
“You have to have good customer service,” he said. “There’s just so many customers and if you run out, you’re out. There’s other places to buy furniture and they want to sell their furniture as bad as you do. We’ve been really blessed and we are so thankful for that.”
Strickland said the employees must follow a basic rule to sell furniture.
“One of the first things we stress is to always be honest,” he said. “It’s what they say about the truth – it’s not always easy, but it’s always right. It’s always the right thing to do. We don’t lie to a customer because none of us are smart enough to remember what we told them
the first time. So we tell them truth. Honesty is a whole lot easier and you sleep better at night.”
Strickland said he and his brother, Tommy, learned all aspects of the business.
“We started from the back and came to the front,” he said. “As a matter of fact, we still do. You do whatever it takes; if you own your own business, you have to do that. Nobody cares more than you care. In here with our longtime staff, they are mighty, mighty helpful.”
Strickland said the philosophy of the store is not to sell the most expensive furniture or cheap furniture that won’t last.
“We try to carry the middle,” he said. “We don’t carry the cheapest thing and we don’t go for the highest-priced; we try to middle-price furniture and we have the better brands.”
Strickland said his store is almost a one-stop shop. “We sell the furniture to fill a whole house,” he said. “We used to sell appliances, but we don’t anymore. We were relying on a man outside the store who made service calls and that didn’t always work out.”
For Strickland’s Furniture, how much it costs isn’t what’s more important.
“Too many people are selling furniture because of the price,” Tommy Strickland said, “and we’re selling because of the quality.”