Owning a furniture store, man’s dream since age 15 |
Doug Bruce’s passion for the furniture business began when he was 15.
“I drove my two-wheeler to the furniture store in my little hometown,” said Bruce. “Little did I know that the first day at work would open my eyes to a lifelong career in which I would help people have more comfortable and beautiful homes.”
After that first day, Bruce, owner of Bruce Furniture, went out of his way to achieve his goal of owning his own furniture business.
He spent five years in this local furniture store, four years at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for training in marketing and economics, and four more years for hands-on training to learn more about the furniture business before he dreamed of owning his own shop finally came true.
The doors to the first Bruce Furniture Store were officially opened in Alliance in May 1977.
But Bruce and his wife, Donna, needed more sweat and personal sacrifice to remodel the building and get the business going.
They spent every penny they needed to start the business, including Donna selling her first new car, to raise more money. Since they had no accommodation, they lived in the shop with their 6 month old son Michael.
“So we lived there until the store opened,” the company’s website says. “I converted everything myself to save money and slept in the office. We unloaded all of our things, put a mattress on the floor and bathed in a tub that the previous tenant had left behind. Donna cooked on a hotplate with a burner and boiled water for bathing. “
It has since expanded to five locations – the original store in Alliance, one in Hastings in 1984, one in Holdrege in 2000, one in Kearney in 2006, and one in North Platte in 2017.
Michael joined the company in 2000.
Bruce said he likes that his furniture stores are able to serve all members of the community, adding that he wants his stores to be everything to all people as this is something they learned in the beginning and that would separate their business from others.
“We don’t sell furniture, we don’t sell mattresses, we don’t sell flooring, we solve furnishing problems,” said Bruce. “We provide solutions to problems and solve these problems with the greatest possible efficiency in terms of time and budget.”
He said Bruce Furniture is a full-service furniture store, which means they work with a customer by first finding a place to choose furniture to eventually bring home.
“We’re not going to find out and say that’s what you should have,” said Bruce. “We will offer you a variety of possibilities and options.”
Once that choice is made, the next step is getting the new furniture home and in the right place and helping the customer move old furniture.
“We introduced the new products,” said Bruce. “We move the older pieces to another room or take them for disposal or take them to a charity if the customer so wishes.”
Bruce Furniture tries to do what is in the best interests of the customer, he said.
“We’re not just selling mattresses or beds, we’re also trying to improve the quality of life,” said Bruce.