Owners of a local furniture shop in Chatham say Chatham-Kent chose them as much as they chose this municipality as the place to set up shop.
John Fry and Rose Linsemen, owners of JM Fry Furniture Design on Fourth Street in Chatham, said as they did their homework on where to establish their small business several years ago, Chatham-Kent kept winning them over.
“It’s a really positive community. The response has been more than we could have hoped for,” Fry said.
Linsemen said she thinks the attraction to their customers is that all their furniture is hand made.
“People want quality,” she said.
Fry agreed, adding there is a desire for higher-end furniture in the area.
JM Fry earned the title of Feature Industry of the Month for April from the Chatham-Kent Chamber of Commerce.
The company began five years ago, operating out of their garage. They’ve called Fourth Street home for the past two years.
Chatham Coun. Brock McGregor said he’s glad to see JM Fry set up in Chatham’s core.
“I’ve seen a revival to the down town, and you are part of it,” he told Fry and Linsemen.
Fry, born in Edmonton and raised in Australia, first met Linsemen when the two lived in Vancouver. He was in the upholstery business out there, while she was there finishing her schooling.
The two later became a couple and called Cambridge home, where Fry would commute to the Greater Toronto Area to various jobs.
“I decided I didn’t want to work for people anymore,” Fry said. “I wanted to get back into the creative side. Chatham-Kent is just a more affordable region.”
Linsemen said the couple felt there was also a need here for a custom-crafted furniture store, and they set up shop in town two years ago.
The need is so great that the two are eying expansion.
“At some point we need to start thinking about moving and hiring,” she said.
Their current location at 7 Fourth St. has a lovely view of the Thames River, but its space is rather limited. It contains both showroom and workshop.
And Fry would like a larger workspace, but wants to see it remain connected and viewable from the showroom.