The Edelman name has long been a part of the landscape in what was known as Greggton in today’s West Longview.
In 1947, brothers Ray and Howard Edelman started what they first called Greggton Furniture Co., on the southwest side of what is now Marshall Avenue. The store was located in an art deco style building, where the First State Bank of Greggton was its neighbor. The Greggton Antique Mall calls that building home today, although many of the other buildings from that time have been torn down or fallen into disrepair.
In the early 1960s, the Edelman brothers moved their store across the highway to a 10,000 square foot space and renamed their business Edelman’s Greggton Furniture. Not a lot of changes were made to the store since then, until about a year ago, when a new business partner began helping redesign the 73-year-old business’s legacy to help secure its spot in the future.
Tom Edelman, Ray Edelman’s son, in 2019 joined forces with a new partner, interior designer K.J. Gleason. Gleason has been redesigning the store’s interior and its approach toward business for the past year, with more changes on their way.
Gleason said he has been an interior designer in East Texas for more than 30 years — he cut his teeth at an early age rearranging his grandmother’s furniture in Washington state and then decorating people’s homes for Christmas starting at the age of 13 while he was living in Henderson.
He’s approaching his redesign of the store with the same guiding principal he said he gives any homeowner when beginning an interior redesign.
“It’s about history. It’s about respecting the history, it’s about being sensitive to it, working and building something that’s lasting,” Gleason said. That means not getting rid of things just because they’re old, but building on them. It means not following every new trend.
“Design should be more about evolution than revolution,” Gleason said.
His business partner, Tom Edelman agrees: “Everybody’s got to evolve a bit,” he said.
The store is now “an interior design studio,” that helps people understand, for instance, how many people they should plan to be able to seat in a living room and what pieces of furniture might be important in each room.
Still, the store’s core remains the same: “We do want to sell furniture,” Gleason said, paired with a philosophy that design is about “function and lasting legacy.”
Inside what is now Edelman Design — the actual sign will be changed in the future — some of the first changes included
removing a dropped ceiling, painting the ceiling black and hanging new lighting.
Large windows cover the front of the building, which Gleason is taking advantage of by creating vignettes in the windows, and throughout the store, so people can imagine how pieces can be used in their homes.
“The windows used to not be a thing,” but now, they’re changed out every three months. “We’ve been farmhouse. We were ultra-traditional.
“Now we’re modern,” he said, with arrangements representing different rooms in a house. The bedroom, for instance, is staged to look as if someone lives there, with women’s high-heeled shoes tossed gracefully onto the floor, a faux fur coat sitting on a chair and jewelry on the vanity. (The vanity, by the way is a vintage piece, made of real wood. Gleason has introduced other quality vintage pieces that are restored into the store as well.) The row of windows includes a living room, dining room and a couple of small occasional areas.
He pointed to one vignette in the store staged for a dinner party of six people, with gifts boxes sitting on each place setting. He’s often heard people say they don’t have room to entertain.
“You entertain if you’ve got the table for it,” he said, explaining that table isn’t large, but it’s set to show a “lifestyle.” It’s ready for a party.
“I’m showing that you don’t require big spaces to do special things,” Gleason said.
The store has phased out mattresses but introduced quality bedding, candles, hand soaps, frames, custom art and custom lighting, among other new products. Gone are the rows of recliners and sofas. Those pieces are now staged inside the vignettes instead.
The place of one particular type of product, though, is secure — outdoor furniture. Gleason said he didn’t understand how central the business of outdoor furniture was to Edelman until he became a partner in the business. Now, he understands the store is the place people in East Texas go to buy quality outdoor furniture. Other stores refer people to Edelman, he said.
Tom Edelman said even more now people are interested in high quality outdoor furniture because outdoor spaces have become a significant part of home design. They’re looking for outdoor furniture that will last.
The changes he’s made, Gleason said, are about securing the future of Edelman Design, and response has been great, he said. The business has thrived in the past year despite being shut down during COVID-19 precautions.
“We’ve made some changes. We’ve turned it around, and we’re doing a thing,” Gleason said.
Edelman said he likes the changes occurring at his family’s store.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, or be able to do,” he said, explaining that many of the lines of furniture the store carries are the same as they were in the past. Rather, it was a matter of matching up what the store offers to better match its target customers.
“One person can’t do it by themselves,” he said. “It’s a matter of getting people in place to make it work.”