Twenty two years ago, after a seven year career in teaching and coaching, Platte
Furniture's owner, Dick Kelly, began selling furniture out of his garage. He never
envisioned that he would expand into a building that had been a hardware store managed
by his wife's great uncle many years before and open for business on May 30th, 1978.
Today, that meager beginning has expanded into over 36,000 square feet of showroom floor,
making it the largest used furniture store in Colorado.
Platte Furniture has always
been about family. Dick's Mother-in-law, Dot Boone, was one of the store's first employees
and can still be found daily working on the books at the store. His stepmom, Mary,
recently passed away, after being an employee for 18 years. On April 29, 2000 Dick proudly
opened the door to welcome his son, Kyle, a recent college graduate, who is now working alongside
his father with the hopes of one day filling his father's shoes.
The Gazette's Article on Platte Furniture - June 17, 2000 by Jane Turnis
Dick Kelly got the sales bug early.
As a local kid, he'd buy rabbits at Ross Auction in Colorado Springs, raise them, and then sell them back to the auction for more.
When his career veered away from business - he was a teacher in Ellicot - he sold things on the side at the flea market, from his garage, and at a used-furniture store on Platte Avenue.
"I told the owner if he ever wanted to sell, I was interested," Kelly said.
Then, in 1978, Kelly started Platte Furniture, 2331 E. Platte Place, with $10,000 and 5,000 square feet of space. Twenty-two years later, Platte Furniture brings in [snip] a year and occupies 36,000 square feet - possibly Colorado's largest used-furniture store.
Set back from East Platte Avenue's pawn shops and tatto parlors, the adobe-like store seems to have defied the odds. Three generations of the Kelly family work at the store, in an era when family businesses are disappearing. It doesn't look like a used-furniture store - the largest showroom is laid out in room-like settings, with floral arrangements, lamps and accessories on the tables.
"People say, 'This is a used store?'" said Dot Boone, Kelly's stepmother and the company's bookkeeper.
"Typically, in a used store you get the smallest space you can and pile stuff in there. I've never done that," he said. "I didn't like the atmosphere; I don't like things cluttered."
The store has lasted and grown while others have come and gone without ever establishing a name.
"I think it's just the ma-and-pa thing, the customer service, and it's a great location," Kelly said.
On a recent weekday, there were free coffee and cookies for customers and country music on the sound system. Treasure hunters and serious furniture shoppers milled around the store's four rooms. Some come in every week.
"You're not high-pressured to buy something, but you better make up your mind right away because it won't be there the next time you go in," said Jean Thornton, a regular since the '70s.
It started when she was looking for two specific bedroom pieces years ago - and she got lucky at Platte Furniture.
"I could afford to go to the best furniture stores in town," Thornton said. "I was looking for a butler to hang your clothes on and a bed bench for the end of the bed. I stumbled in there, and there they were in the middle room."
She also hit it off with Dick's stepmother, Mary Kelly, and found herself coming back again and again, even after Mary's death last year.
"It's a place to go have coffee and talk, like the neighborhood drugstore," Thornton said, as well as buy, sell and trade furniture.
The store gets about 30 calls a day from people who have furniture to sell. Trucks go out to about 15 residences a day to buy and bring back furniture pieces.
"To be honest, with some of our longtime customers, we buy things we don't even want sometimes, because they're good customers," Kelly said.
Some customers trade in their old furniture for a new look from Platte Furniture. A basement area is nearly filled with layaway pieces.
The customer mix ranges from college students buying in the fall and selling in the spring to high-income Broadmoor-area residents to newlyweds outfitting their new homes. When the economy is in decline, sales are better, Kelly said.
Kelly's son Kyle, a recent college graduate, joined the business this spring and plans to take it over one day.
Kyle's goal is to keep on defying the odds, and grow even larger.
"I want to have stores in Denver, the Springs and maybe Pueblo someday," he said.
(End of Article)