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101-year-old furniture store still in family, but in new store

March 09, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - One hundred and one years after F. Hayes Harmon delivered furniture to his first customers with a horse-drawn freight wagon, Harmon's Furniture still is in the family, but in a new store.

The store at 480 Gateway Ave. in the new Gateway Center actually is the fifth location since Harmon started the business in 1906, said Robin Harmon, the great-granddaughter of the founder. For the past 36 years, until the new store opened in late January, Harmon's was a fixture on North Main Street in downtown Chambersburg.

Harmon's was at three other sites along Main Street before that and "during the Depression, we were in a back alley somewhere," said Harmon, whose mother, Bonnie, owns the business.

Although open for about six weeks, Harmon's grand opening sale began Thursday and continues through the weekend, Harmon said.

"We did a little Presidents Day event to get our feet wet" before the grand opening, Harmon said. The store has expanded its hours to Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m., she said.

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The new store allows plenty of room for shoppers to browse, with a 19,000-square-foot showroom and much easier access and parking than was afforded on North Main Street. The old store had four floors of showrooms and a fifth floor for a warehouse, but maneuvering delivery trucks to the rear entrance was a challenge, Harmon said.

The new store's layout allows more expansive displays of furniture by La-Z-Boy, Bassett, Cochrane and other manufacturers, Harmon said. La-Z-Boy and Bassett both have in-store galleries designed by those companies, she said.

"Cochrane has been here since the 1940s," sales manager Jeff Bonebrake said of the maker of solid wood dining room and bedroom sets.

"We've added Pennsylvania House. That's new for us," Harmon said.

Harmon expects a substantial crowd of shoppers this weekend when Target and PetSmart hold their grand openings a few hundred yards away at Chambersburg Crossing. That shopping center and Gateway Center together will comprise more than 500,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space in Chambersburg's North End.

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