Furnishing the Tri-State: Schewel Furniture Company

Posted on May 25, 2011

Virginia-based furniture retailer Schewel Furniture Company originated in 1897. Initially named “The Chicago Bargain Furniture House” by Elias Schewel, a Jewish Lithuanian immigrant and rabbinical teacher who struggled to make ends meet, the store consisted of a slew of picture frames, cane-bottom chairs, and other small home furniture items peddled out of a horse-drawn pushcart, and was called so because in those days, Chicago was seen as America’s furniture capital.

As more and more townsfolk flocked to his ornament-filled pushcart, Rabbi Schewel’s business grew, and within the same year, he acquired lease of a permanent location and moved his wares into a building along 12th and Main Street. Upon relocation, as Rabbi christened the store a second time into its current trade name, Schewel Furniture Company, his selection of home furnishing items and décor grew in both size, quantity, and variety – cane-bottom chairs and picture frames had expanded into upholstery, beds, armoires, chests, and dining room sets. When Schewels was incorporated in 1917, the Rabbi coined the slogan, “Let Schewels Feather Your Nest” as a personal touch.

As the decades came and went and operations of the enterprise were passed on from generation to generation, Schewels grew modestly, spawning 12 retail outlets throughout Virginia by 1972. In 1986, after Rabbi Schewel’s grandson Bert had groomed his three children to take over ownership and operation of the chain, the three siblings, Marc, Jack, and Donna oversaw the organization’s expansion to an 800-strong firm with 47 retail outlets all throughout the state, as well as neighboring states West Virginia and North Carolina. From Altavista, Amherst, Appomattox, and Bedford, Virginia, to Lewisburg, West Virginia, and Burlington, North Carolina, Schewels helps discerning American families along the tri-state turn their houses into homes.

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