Smith Village employees are rewarded with keys to store

Photo: Smith Village’s new owners are (left to right): Gary Inners, Mark Warner, William Ream and, front, Colleen Schaffner. The four have a combined 111 years of experience at Smith Village.

Home Furnishings Association members Dallas Smith and Susan Smith Hake have retired, but their store, Smith Village Home Furnishings, isn’t going anywhere. The brother and sister, second-generation owners of the Jacobus, Pa., store, turned the business over to four loyal and longtime employees.

The store’s new owners are Gary Inners, warehouse manager; William Ream, store manager and buyer; Colleen Schaffner, director of advertising and buyer; and Mark Warner, controller. The new owners, who have a combined 111 years’ experience working for Smith Village, took over in March.

A bear and monkey and gator (oh, my!)

Smith Village has a long history in central Pennsylvania. The store was founded in 1932 by Bruce V. Smith, who attracted customers by offering, among other things, a petting zoo. The zoo included a bear, a monkey and an alligator — the latter Smith sometimes kept in his basement at home.

Eventually, Smith handed down the store to his children, who also include Donald Smith, Anna Mae Gerlich and Dale Smith. Dallas Smith and Susan Smith Hake will now join their siblings in retirement.

Dallas Smith said the idea of transferring ownership of the company had been in the works for about two years.

“We came up with a plan to transfer ownership to our four loyal, long-term managers, in recognition of their dedication and ability to operate the business successfully,” said Smith, the store’s president. “Each of them has been at Smith Village for over 20 years.”

Then new owners were a little surprised when they were asked if they’d be interested in buying the business. “It was a bit out of the blue but knowing there was not another generation in the works, we figured there had to be something in the works,” he said.

Don’t expect a lot of changes under the new owners, said Ream. “We’ve been pretty successful for 87 years with what we’ve been doing, which is providing the best customer service and attention to detail we can. We’re not about to change that.”

Even though the last of the Smiths is retiring, the name of the store will live on. The store will also continue to run Furniture Outlet, a clearance center located across the street from the store in Jacobus, with the current employees and management team in place.

The company has 37 employees. “For our customers, there will be no change at all, and really not for our employees either,” Dallas Smith said.

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