Wayside has more than 200,000 square feet (that’s five acres!) of inventory. You don’t have to look through catalogs or travel to ten stores to find what you want. Of course, if you’d rather browse through some catalogs or choose your own swatches, we have thousands of those, too. Custom orders are discounted every day--just like our in-stock inventory. Wayside is a “middle to high-end” furniture store with name brands featuring quality construction and recognizable value. We also specialize in custom crafted cabinetry for your bedroom, dining room, office and home theater. For over 70 years, we have provided friendly, responsive service. Professional interior designers are on staff to help you with all the design elements of your home. We can help you put together the corner of a room or your entire home. Wayside is the largest furniture retailer in the area. We simply buy and sell for less...everyday. Our price guarantee is on every receipt.
Wayside has roots in Cleveland
Cleveland is "home" for my family.
My grandparents emigrated here from Italy when they were adolescents. My dad’s father, Domenic Pizzoferrato, (my uncle was a doctor and after being paged “Dr. Pizzoferrato” for a while, he shortened the last name to Ferrato. My father followed suit.) worked for the Eaton Corp. for his entire career, and my mom’s dad worked for Convection Stove. Both my parents grew up in Collinwood. My dad worked for the Good Humor Ice Cream Company. He really was the Ice Cream Man, driving those trucks until he became a district manager.
Eventually, my parents moved out of the apartment above my grandparents’ into a home in South Euclid, and later to a century home on the Underground Railroad in Brecksville. It was an awesome home with acreage that my grandfathers loved to teach us how to farm. My father moved from ice cream retail to department store retail at Sterling Linder Davis (I’ll never forget that huge Christmas tree at Sterling Linder!), where he eventually moved into the furniture department.
With 11 kids to feed, my parents packed us all up and moved to Chicago. My dad worked with Morris Futorian, one of our industry’s leading innovators, who led Stratford/Stratolounger to be one of the biggest manufacturers in the world. Several people who mentored there started their own companies, including the Action Lane Company. A few years later, we moved to North Carolina for another furniture manufacturing job.
In 1971, my dad had a chance to move back to Northeast Ohio. (By this time, my parents had 12 kids!) Wayside Furniture had just burned down and the owners were looking for someone to rebuild and run the company. My dad took the job and worked constantly, but he was in his glory.
In 1979, my oldest brother, Blaise Jr., left law school to work with my dad. In 1982, I went to work my way through college as a cash-and-carry guy (our industry calls them schleppers). Basically I did whatever was needed, from moving furniture to cleaning toilets. (I will never forget my dad making me replace a sewage sump pump . . . yuck!)
In 1985, my dad approached my brother and me about purchasing Wayside. We (mostly my dad!) bought the company in November 1985. Less than two years later, my dad had a short battle with cancer and passed away on May 15, 1987. He was only 57. Fortunately, before he passed my dad had finally stopped working 70-80 hours a week and was able to spend some time with my mom, who of course worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week raising 12 kids. (After having four kids, my wife Nancy and I have decided that my mom is a little crazy, a lot saint.)
My brother became president of Wayside Furniture at 35 and I was a 22-year-old VP in my senior year of college, about to get married.
As it turned out, I think we were more prepared than we realized. Our business grew tremendously. We built on additions in 1991 and 1994 that more than doubled our size. We built a new 125,000-square-foot warehouse in 1995. After my dad died, Blaise and I were able to change one thing we always wanted to change: Pricing. To this day, most furniture stores sell in the same way as most car dealers, that is, the price marked is not the price paid. It’s a chore just to buy something.
So in 1988, we simply gave up all the ridiculous suggested retail and “comp” pricing and so called “sales” and just marked everything at the lowest price we were willing to sell it for every day. When we got lower prices from the factories, we lowered the prices, creating a true sale. When the product stopped being a good seller, we marked it down to move out – a real clearance. When we wanted to celebrate a special event like a grand opening or anniversary, we went to our suppliers and asked for price breaks and close-outs to advertise real additional savings. Our sales staff and customers loved it.
We have grown our business by eight times since then. Sure, we still have customers who want to “wheel and deal” and someone is always willing to sell for less. But we just continue to hope that most customers would rather do business with the place that gave them the right price first, not the guy who tried to get more out of them first and only lowered the price after “negotiating.”
In 1999, my brother Blaise died suddenly of an aortic dissection just days after his wedding reception. It was a very tough time for all of us. I was truly scared. I did most of the advertising/marketing/display and day-to-day operations, but I knew nothing about financial and government matters. Fortunately, my other family members and some really great people that have been with us a long time came to the rescue. We have several dozen people who have worked with us for 5, 10, 15, 20 and even 40 years! Without these happy, customer-focused people, we would be nothing.
Time to Grow Again
In 2000, we purchased the property next door for more parking and an expanded leather display. We used recycled brick from an old warehouse in Chicago and reclaimed heart pine from an old library in New York for the flooring. We left all the old beams exposed and installed the latest energy-efficient lighting and HVAC. But the most fun was putting in a cafe.
Naturally, I am biased, but I think it’s the best-kept food secret in Northeast Ohio. My sister, Marianne, and her husband, Allen, run it. Everything is homemade, from the bread and soup to the awesome desserts. We serve coffee from fresh, locally-roasted beans, wonderful cappuccinos, and delicious smoothies. Daily specials are prepared, such as homemade pasta and seasonal items from our own, small onsite garden. It’s really a great way to spend the day – with great food and great decorating ideas.
In 2005, we purchased the property on the other side for more parking and a clearance outlet. We have a pretty liberal return policy and needed a place for these returns and for moving out our “goofs”. Goofs result from ordering too many items you think will be popular, but don’t end up that way at all, or when things that are really popular today get ordered heavily, and then all of a sudden their popularity fades. Having the outlet also helps to keep our main showroom looking better and less cluttered. Plus, our customers love to shop there often because it changes every day and they can really get some great bargains!
Not Your Ordinary Furniture Store
With more than 100,000 square feet, we offer one of the biggest selections in the Midwest. We also love custom challenges. My brother, Joe, heads up our custom division. Basically, if you can dream it up or show us a piece you like and tell us how you’d like to change it, we can do it. We can create furniture with any wood and finish. It’s more expensive than most assembly-line furniture (most of it is built by local craftsmen in Ohio), but it’s not as expensive as you might think when you consider that you are getting quality you simply don’t see any more, along with getting exactly what you want.
In addition to our convenient in-store cafe, we have an in-store kids’ play room where the little ones can watch DVDs, play games or draw. We also have in-house service and delivery. (You would be surprised at how many stores entrust this to outsiders).
It features huge custom built wall systems
I have to admit, I am still more comfortable with pencil and paper or mortise and tenon joints than I am with computers. Fortunately, my nephew, Jeremy, is a computer whiz. He has helped us not only with internal I.T. but with making it easier for savvy consumers to shop online. Wayside has no interest in selling to consumers much more than an 1.5 hours away. We sell service more than anything, and frankly it’s just not possible to offer our level of attention when the customer is far away. So when we have inquiries from outside NE Ohio, we direct them to other fine stores in their area.
Furniture is a fast changing fashion industry and it is very difficult (we think impossible) to try and show what we carry online with prices, etc. More importantly, we believe the real value and amazing thing about the internet is the volumes of information that is instantly available to all of us around the world. Therefore, rather than showing you a tiny speck of what’s available (our showroom) we decided to make it easy to see all the things we don’t necessarily show. Why not let you decide what you like instead of forcing/hoping you like what our buyers thought you would like. It’s fun to see the super cool, unique items people find and order.
We also feature our clearance outlet merchandise online. Most items now have the prices and you can actually add them to an active shopping cart and purchase online.
Just for fun (and to see if anyone reads this far!), print any page of our site and bring it in with this article and I will buy you lunch at our family’s cafe!
The Number One Request
People always ask us when we’re going to open a store in Cleveland. You never know what the future holds, but having multiple locations does not fit our model. The best way to hold down prices is to hold down costs.
Multiple locations mean multiplying overhead costs: more managers, property taxes, buildings, insurance, heating/cooling etc. In my opinion, the consumer really ends up paying for it, and not just with higher prices, but with urban sprawl and lousy customer service. Do chains really need to have 5 -10 locations in one city? It took me 45 minutes to travel three miles outside the Miami airport with my family. The only green spaces we saw for over an hour were a few golf courses! And when it comes to service, it all boils down to people. We work very hard every day to try and make sure our customers are treated with respect. I can’t imagine how difficult that would be with multiple locations.
Cleveland is easy to “believe in.” Our traffic hours are “traffic hours” not traffic “all day.” Our green spaces are amazing. The Metroparks, state parks and Cuyahoga National Valley are truly a treasure. We have some of the world’s finest health and music organizations, museums, arts, theme parks, and professional sports teams. I think we all take for granted our greatest natural resource: Lake Erie.
Cleveland is like all great old cities. It will take its hits, but it will always be home to a lot of great people. Wayside Furniture is happy to serve this community.