The ribbon cutting for the most recent renovations to the Darvin store. The retailer is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.
ORLAND PARK, Ill. — Darvin Furniture & Mattress, based in the Chicago suburb here, is celebrating 100 years in business this year.
And in those hundred years since 1920, it’s survived the Great Depression, the Great Recession and more, so company officials have a wealth of history to draw back upon when faced with issues like today’s COVID-19 landscape.
“Starting a business in 1920, there are many significant bumps in the road that parallel many of the same challenges the nation has encountered in recent decades,” said Steve Darvin, third generation co-owner of the family-owned retailer. “Whether it’s the Great Depression, the Great Recession, wartime concerns or trade policies, there’s always going to be some force at work challenging your business. I like the saying: ‘It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.’”
Steve Darvin said part of reacting is being there for customers and realizing that the way they’re treated goes a long way in ensuring sustained business.
“Part of what we believe has made us successful over the decades has been our willingness to put in the hard work, to be available at the store to meet customers, and to ensure their Darvin experience makes them think of us the next time they need furniture,” he said. “At its very essence, celebrating 100 years means that those commitments to the business, our employees and our customers were worth it.”
Prior to 1939, Darvin Furniture operated for 19 years as a door-to-door sales business that operated from a catalog. In that year, Patriarch Louis Darvin and his son, David, opened their first brick-and-mortar store, a 5,000-square-foot space. They were there until 1948, when they moved to a 25,000-square-foot footprint in Pullman. That lasted until 1962, when Darvin moved to Chicago’s south side and a 50,000-square-foot showroom.
David’s sons, Steve and Marty, joined the business in the 1970s and the family opened a second store in Matteson, which was in operation until 1978.
In 1980, Darvin opened its current location in Orland Park. Today that store has grown to more than 200,000 square feet, with a 218,000-square-foot distribution center in Mokena just a few miles away.
It added a mattress store in 2009 and in 2015 opened its Clearance & Outlet Center, a 35,000-square-foot addition, as well as a new Rug Gallery that completed the expansion at the existing campus.
Through it all, the family notes that generations of customers have followed.
“It is not unusual to talk to a customer who is in the showroom and to have them say ‘I grew up with a Darvin bedroom set’ or ‘my grandparents bought all of their furniture from Darvin and so did my parents,’” Steve Darvin said. “It’s quite humbling to feel that connection with someone’s life, all those memories, somehow connected to our business. It can really be the highlight of a workday.”
And while a full slate of anniversary celebrations were planned at the outset of 2020, Steve Darvin said a lot of those plans are on hold as the nation navigates the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, it’s pushing forward as safely as it can. Recently, Darvin gave away 17 Windham vacations and one Ford Explorer as part of the festivities.
“Our initial plans were to begin our celebration in March and to continue into and throughout the fall season,” he said. “We are still planning to celebrate with our vendors, our customers and our community this year.”