Hansen’s Furniture Keeps the Faith

This is what the site of Hansen’s Furniture looked following the May 1, 2016 fire that destroyed the building that had been there since the company first opened its doors 80 years ago. (photo by Skagit Publishing)

In a sadistic twist on the classic prelude to bad news, “You might want to be sitting down for this,” Don Gerrior was actually lying in a hospital bed when his wife called him on the morning of May 1, 2016 to tell him that their business, Hansen’s Furniture, was threatened by a fire that had started at the retailer next door, Craft Stove.

“She had received a call around three in the morning that Craft Stove was on fire, and she thought at first that maybe it hadn’t spread to our store — but by the time she arrived there was smoke in our building. The fire department got the keys so they could open the door and see what was going on — and it was instantly engulfed.”

As Don remembers it, there were fire fighters from five districts on the scene. “It was a massive fire,” he says. “The building and all of its contents burnt to the ground at both Craft Stove and Hansen’s. It was a total loss.”

Hansen’s Furniture has been a retail fixture of west Mount Vernon for 80 years — going back to founder and owner Walt Hansen. Don began his career with the company in 1978. “I remember as a younger guy doing furniture deliveries to my current customers’ parents and grandparents. We have a lot of third and fourth generation customers.”

Don Gerrior, the current owner of Hansen’s Furniture, eagerly awaits the opening of his new building in early December, and sees it as part of a revitalization of the west Mount Vernon retail scene.

Hansen’s Furniture is just a few weeks away from re-opening its original location at the corner of West Division and Wall, with a two-story structure that, along with its neighbor Craft Stove, will add a fresh look to the west Mount Vernon retail scene. Meyer Sign & Advertising is proud to be the creator of the new building’s signage, as well as adding an LED display to the store’s current location across the street. We had some questions for Don about his decision to continue a Mount Vernon retail tradition that is now more than 80 years old.

The new Hansen’s Furniture building nears completion on the corner of W. Division and Wall in west Mount Vernon. The building was designed by local firm Carletti Architects.

Q: Was there any doubt about rebuilding the store after the fire?

A: It took awhile to figure that out. We had everything paid off, and I’m at point in my life where I had to decide if I wanted to keep on working or not. My wife and I talked a lot between ourselves, but also with our customers, and there were a lot of folks in the community who wanted us to come back — so we started the rebuilding process.

Meyer Sign & Advertising’s art director, Lisa Corp, stayed true to Don Gerrior’s desire to keep the retro feel of his original blade sign — but the neon has been replaced by LED.

Q: How did you approach the design of the new building?

A: We wanted something that would be customer friendly and that would be nice for the community. We got in touch with Carletti Architects and had a good sit down conference, and they told us what they could do. We brainstormed together and came up with a plan that we’re very happy with. We think it’s going to be very nice when all is said and done.

Q: What excites you most about the new building?

A: What excites me most is that it’s almost done! It’s two full stories, has a user-friendly elevator, and everything is state-of-the-art. It is also built in such a way that I don’t think it is ever going to burn down again — all steel and concrete blocks.

A view of W. Division from the second floor of the new Hansen’s Furniture building.

Q: How do you think the new store changes the retail scene in west Mount Vernon?

A: Everyone in west Mount Vernon takes a lot of pride in this area, and I think people will like doing business here. Between us and Craft Stove we’re going to give the westside a lift — along with some of the other merchants who are doing revitalization projects and freshening up their businesses as well. Craft Stove really sharpens up that corner.

“Craft Stove really sharpens up that corner,” says Don Gerrior.

Q: What do you think the future holds for your store and the furniture business?

A: There have been a lot of changes since 1947 (when Hansen’s Furniture started), but we’ve been changing along with our customers desires, needs, and wants. We’re planning on being here for the long haul, whatever their needs are. Even with our modern ways of doing business, people still like to be hands on…to touch and see the quality and experience the service.

The new Hansen’s Furniture showroom is constructed entirely of concrete blocks and steel. “I don’t think it’s ever going to burn down again,” says Don Gerrior.

Q: When you think about the Hansen’s Furniture brand, what do you think it stands for?

A: That we back up everything we sell, above and beyond what the manufacturer’s warranty is. If there is a question, we want to address it and take care of it.

Q: What inspired the design of your new sign?A: I wanted to go in the direction of the design we’d had before…that retro neon look. I spent a lot of time making sure that the original sign stayed true to that. If a letter burned out, I had it blown and redone because I really loved that sign. I wanted a piece of that back, but with modern LED lighting — not only to cut down on the maintenance and service, but to save energy for all of us. In addition, our existing sign at our other store will now have a digital display. We wanted something that would be viewed by everyone who drives by, and to get our message across to them.

Hansen’s Furniture’s existing sign will be updated with an LED display that will communicate to thousands of motorists daily along W. Division/Memorial Highway not only with words but with images.