Customer service remains a tradition at Ritchie’s Furniture and Appliance
Published 9:02 am Monday, September 22, 2014
Customer service is a family tradition at Ritchie’s Furniture and Appliance — one that goes back three generations.
Margo Bentley and her husband Stan now run the family business which was founded in 1936 by Margo’s father, Ralph X. Ritchie, who passed away in 1993.
“He started out selling textbooks and stoker furnaces and evolved into furniture and appliances,” Margo Bentley said. “As far as I know, Daddy was the first GE (General Electric) dealer in Elizabethton.”
Now the tradition of personal service, which has been a hallmark of the Ritchie’s shopping experience from the beginning, has expanded to include a third generation — Margo and Stan’s daughter Rachel Embry and her husband Shaun Embry have joined the family business.
“They are in the business now and are our future,” Margo Bentley said.
And, there is a fourth generation of Ritchie’s Furniture and Appliance family in the works — Rachel and Shaun have a 1-year-old daughter named Willow and are preparing to welcome their second child, who is due to arrive in November.
With such a long history of customer service in Elizabethton, it is no surprise Ritchie’s Furniture and Appliance recently won not one but three Reader’s Choice Awards. Each year, the Elizabethton Star holds a Reader’s Choice Awards contest which allows readers to vote for their favorite local businesses, restaurants and professionals.
For 2014, Ritchie’s Furniture and Appliance won awards for Best Appliance Store, Best Furniture Store and Best Mattress/Bedding.
“We were excited, especially to win all three of them,” Margo Bentley said, adding she was pleased the community continues to support its local businesses. “We have a lot of second and third generation customers who have been loyal,” she said.
Many of the traditions started by Ralph X. Ritchie carry over to present day, which Margo Bentley said is part of the store’s dedication to providing their customers with the personal service they need.
“We still finance accounts here at the store,” she said, adding the store still has a “90 days same as cash” policy for customer financing. The store also still offers free local delivery in Elizabethton, Margo Bentley said, adding that for deliveries outside the city only a small fee is charged.
One new change for the store is the relocation of its warehouse.
Previously Ritchie’s Furniture and Appliance maintained a warehouse on F Street near the Elizabethton Police Department. “We’ve been in that warehouse since the 1950s,” Margo Bentley said.
The store has now purchased a building located behind their existing store to use as a warehouse, which she said will be more convenient and will also provide additional customer parking at the rear of the store.