*The following is promotional content.*
What’s a “self made man?” Usually it’s an individual whose success was not the result of inheritance, serendipity, or luck, but success driven solely from within. This special brand of accomplishment was achieved not by who someone knew, but how much they knew and were willing to work to reach even higher plateaus. These are the rare people that some scorn saying, “He had to have an in,” or “Someone bankrolled him,” but that is not the case with a true self made man. These people are rare indeed, driven by a fire that burns in their belly. Such a man is Ed Smith of Chariho Furniture.
Although Smith grew up in a middle class family and had just a high school diploma, he never stopped educating himself when he found a situation that interested him or a goal he wanted to achieve. From
Chariho continued from previous page his teens years he knew he wanted to work for himself one day and to achieve that he was willing to start anywhere and do anything. Nothing was too menial if he could learn and advance. He began as a box cutter in a small Rhode Island furniture store. Although his duty was to slice boxes, he kept looking around, watching, and in the process he learned the mechanics of furniture delivery, refinishing, sales, and how to treat customers. When the furniture store failed, Ed Smith decided he would open his own and do it right. More than 32 years later, he’s still doing it right.
“I did the impossible,” Smith said. “I started with $3,000. of our wedding money and a home equity loan on my parents’ home. In 1987 he moved into a tiny space in Richmond with a paper sign and little inventory. It was a terrible time to open a business following the stock market’s “Black Monday” and the Rhode Island statewide credit union collapse. But that didn’t deter the young man barely in his twenties. Ed started Chariho Furniture with inexpensive furniture, “only three of everything. When I sold a $699. sofa, I replaced it with a $899 one. When that was sold, I replaced it with a $1,299 piece. I kept raising the bar.”
Fast forward to today when Chariho Furniture is a high-end destination store doing business throughout the entire United States. Smith holds firm to his conviction of everything must be made in North America, crafted of solid wood, and must be customizable so the customer literally has thousands of choices. Every supplier to the store must craft only the highest quality, Chariho Furniture owns all its inventory, and every salesperson is a professional interior designer. Unlike other stores in the state and throughout New England who advertise that they carry Amish furniture, Ed says, “Most of them have three or four different lines and much of it is imported. My daughter, Stephanie, our Chief Operating Officer and I go out to Ohio where there is an enormous Amish furniture market. Therefore, we now carry an inventory from 33 Amish companies ... all solid wood, all American made, all customizable to the needs and tastes of our customers.”
Working with Ed, Stephanie, or Smith’s staff of educated interior designers, a customer may choose their own wood species, the finish, and the hardware, right down to the smallest detail.
Take the time to visit Chariho Furniture and take a look for yourself. You’ll find no high pressure, just a high level of workmanship, stewardship, and educated service. Before you go, visit their website, unlike any other at www.charihofurniture.com.
The photography is extraordinary, the choices for customizing are endless. And if you think they’re just sofas and tables and chairs, take another look. They have beautifully crafted, made in America office furniture, in solid wood. There are also gun cabinets and curio cabinets, mattresses, accessories, even quilt holders!
Ed Smith looks around the store he built, one sofa at a time, one table at a time, one customer at a time, and grows silent. Then his gaze falls upon the giant, magnificent slabs of wood, hand made by the Amish and soon to be the centerpiece of someone’s dining room. A big smile spreads across his face as he says, “It’s fun, you know. We sell really cool stuff.”
Chariho Furniture is an easy ride from anywhere, just off I-95 at Exit 3A, Jct. Of Rt. 138 & 112, at 10 Richmond Townhouse Road (401) 539-9043.