1892– Buffalo Center, Iowa, became a town when it was incorporated.
1898-Our school was built and has the distinction of being the First Consolidated School West of the Mississippi. My grandfather “Hy” Schutter purchased a furniture store in Lakota and operated it until he retired in 1919. My grandfather Henry worked in his father’s store in Lakota. He loved children and would give them a nickel whenever they came to visit at his father’s store.
1909– My grandfather, Henry Jerry Schutter opened a furniture store along with his brother Jerry. It was called Schutter Brothers and it was located at 206 N. Main St. in Buffalo Center, IA (in what is now the northern one third of Murra Hardware). Jerry soon decided to move to Wesley and start his own furniture store there. My grandfather’s store became H.J. Schutter Furniture & Undertaking.
1927-Someone snapped a picture of my father in my grandfather’s furniture store here in Buffalo Center when he was only 16. I had this picture enlarged and framed and it is hanging in the front of my store (so he can keep an eye on me!)
1935– My father joined his dad in the family business so Henry re-named it Schutter & Son Furniture and Funeral Service.
April 1949– My father, Art Schutter, took over the family businesses (which included the furniture store, the funeral service, and an ambulance service) when my grandfather died six months before I was born.
1953 – Because he always wanted to be a farmer, my father sold the family businesses when he had the chance to George & Evelyn Winter.
July 1955 -I opened my first “store” along with my cousin Mary Beth outside of my parent’s home in Buffalo Center on top of a tree stump on the corner. We sold popcorn and lemonade for a nickel and brownies made by my Aunt Ora Hofbauer for 10 cents. (We didn’t ever think to pay her for what we sold)! I discovered that I absolutely love to sell things!
1963 -After ten years in the same location, George Winter decided to buy the two old buildings just up the street from the furniture store: Johnson’s Produce and Claus Siebert’s barber shop. He tore them both down and put up a brand-new building to house his furniture store at 212 N. Main Street.
1989 – George Winter decided to get out of the furniture business and held an auction to get rid of his remaining inventory. He remodeled the interior of his building, dividing it into two parts. One side he rented to Jerry & Carol Bechler for their flooring business. They also sold some furniture. The other side was occupied by kdw exposures, a photography studio, that eventually closed its doors in 1993.
February 1995– My husband John and I purchased the building at 212 North Main Street in Buffalo Center from George Winter, the very same man who bought the furniture and funeral service business from my father back in 1953. We worked hard to get my side of the building ready for customers.
March 1995 – “The Emporium” consignment store, occupying the space vacated by the photography studio, opened its doors for the very first time to the public. (I continued to rent the south half of the building to Jerry & Carol.) I had two dressing rooms with full-length mirrors!
March 1996 – Jerry & Carol decided to buy a building across the street and vacate the south half of my building. I needed to think of something to put in there that would help with the utilities! Some people asked me about renting the south half to put in a day care center. I looked into the requirements and found that a daycare center would not be feasible. I decided to stop selling the second-hand clothing (since it never did sell very well) so that I could concentrate on the knick-knacks and, possibly, antiques. I also started a very popular one-for-one Free Book Exchange in one of the former dressing rooms and moved my office into the other one. I had been trying to sell used furniture, but not much was being consigned. A former Buffalo Center store owner told me about a furniture company from which he used to buy chests of drawers for resale. I contacted the company (Perdue Woodworks) and decided to take the plunge and become a furniture retailer. I changed the name of the store to “Emporium Furniture”.
April 24, 1996 – I placed my first order with Perdue Woodworks, the very first company from which I bought new furniture for re-sale.
July 10, 1996 – My very first furniture sales representative (Dick) walked into my store. (He saw my sign down on the highway). He asked me if I would like to sell new furniture from a company that he represented, so I gave him my first order with 7-C Furniture, an import company from Chicago. He also started me with a very small mattress company (EMC-Elam’s Mattress Company of Selmer, Tennessee) that also carried 3 models of an inexpensive recliner from Franklin Furniture of Houston, Mississippi. I was on my way!
August 1997 – I began attending Furniture Market at the International Market Square in Minneapolis twice a year and continued to add new companies each time I attended.
September 14, 1998 – Another sales representative introduced himself and offered me a line of sofas and recliners. I gave him my first order with Jackson Furniture Industries, otherwise known as Catnapper of Cleveland, Tennessee.
September 24, 1998 – My first sales representative convinced me to switch to the new mattress company that he had begun representing. I gave him my very first order with Symbol Mattress. The plant was located in Watertown, Wisconsin, so I was able to get orders much quicker.
December 15, 2006 – We purchased the old pool hall next door to the north of the store for John to use for storage. He offered the front part to me to use for a place to put extra freight, but I declined because it is very dirty and musty and it needed a new furnace. A year later I changed my mind about using that old pool hall!
Spring, 2007 – Because I had so many prints for sale, I decided to re-name the store “Emporium Furniture & Gallery” or “EFG”.
August 14, 2007 – The store roof was punctured by a metal downspout that blew across the roof. All of the water that has pooled up there came flooding into the store.
August 15, 2007 – I walked into a nightmare. Water was pouring from the ceiling in many places. There was already three inches of water on the floor and I couldn’t seem to catch my breath. I lost half of my inventory! We let the salvage company use the old pool hall to store my damaged inventory for a week until their trucks could pick it up and haul it away. I noticed that there was a lot of nice space in that building going to waste! Eventually, I was able to get all of the damaged items replaced, including the roof, the carpeting, the floor tile, the ceiling tiles, and to have all the walls painted. I chatted with my carpenters about fixing up the old pool hall, too. They told me “no problem”. So after a lot of bleach, elbow grease, caulk, paint, carpet, and a new furnace, the new Emporium Sleep Center was ready for customers! Moving all the mattresses to the building next door made a lot more room for the recliners and sofas on the south side of the main building. However, it became increasingly bothersome to have to go outside to unlock the Sleep Center whenever someone wanted to check out the mattresses. Happily, I was able to convince John to agree to let the carpenters break through the two walls, construct a ramp, and brick around the opening for easier access.
Late November 2007 – I had my Grand Re-opening on Thanksgiving weekend. I had been gradually replacing the inventory that was lost.
February 2008 – In just two weeks, the carpenters opened up an arched walkway between the two buildings so that I no longer had to go outside to access my bedding department (Sleep Center).
April 2008 – I launched my new website… www.emporiumfurnitureonline.com
2009 -This year marked the 100th year since my grandfather opened his store here in Buffalo Center. I think he would have been proud to know that his granddaughter is the third generation of his family to sell furniture in “bustling” downtown Buffalo Center, don’t you?
2011 – I picked up a new mattress company, ENGLANDER from Chicago. I ended up dropping Symbol to just sell Englander.
March 2014 – Just when everything looked rosy, the roof of the Sleep Center collapsed due to a heavy snow load that winter sending water cascading into that room. I couldn’t believe it was happening to me again! Luckily, this time it took less time to repair the damage… new walls, new ceiling, new lighting, and new flooring. But I still had lost half the inventory in that room!
2015 – I picked up another new mattress company, POSH+LAVISH. Awesome company! At last count, I have bought items from over eighty different companies to tempt my customers.
October 2016 – I hired a company that designed a new logo for me along with a new name for the store! “Emporium Furniture & Mattress.” or “EFM”. They also convinced me to redo my website: www.EmporiumFurnitureAndMattress.com .
March 2020 – I celebrated twenty-five years in business!
2030 -If I’m still open and selling furniture in 2030, I promise to celebrate my 75th anniversary of being a salesman by serving you lemonade and popcorn and homemade brownies in memory of the little salesgirl that I was back in 1955…!