HUBBARD, Ohio — Old invoices dating to 1926 and 1961, ads showcasing styles and prices and storefront photos from different times can be seen on the walls at Stewart Furniture, a business established by C.R. Stewart in 1918 in Hubbard.
“These old clippings are from customers who brought them in for us to see, and it’s interesting. Living room sets, the styles – they leave but they come back,” says Sally Severa, one of three co-owners, as she points to the history on her office wall.
Severa’s mother, Mitzi Sarisky, worked at Stewart Furniture after she got out of high school in 1942. Then Severa’s father, Ray Sarisky, became part of the business after World War II. They learned the ins and outs of the business and eventually got into sales.
In the early 1970s, Haber’s Furniture Co. bought the store. After a short time, it closed and the building sat empty until 1976 when Severa’s parents bought it. Today the store operates at its original site, 19 N. Main St., and at the request of C.R. Stewart’s son, Severa’s parents kept the Stewart name, she says.
Working alongside her siblings and co-owners, Mark Sarisky and Polly Jones, and three other employees, Severa says they enjoy working one-on-one with customers and the small-town atmosphere.
Debbie Balestrino, who works in sales, says she feels like part of the family and has been there for 25 years. “We treat you like you are family when you come in,” she says.
When customers wander throughout the store, they start to open up about what they’re seeking, she says.
“The more you talk to them, you get to know what they’re looking for as far as style and color. You figure it out,” Balestrino says.
“My husband’s grandmother – she would be 119 right now – we gave her a dining room set. I was redoing it and underneath was a poster with Stewart Furniture on it. So you figure how old that dining room table is and chairs, and I still have it,” Balestrino says.
“We last. I mean, c’mon,” she says with a laugh.
While Stewart does not provide design services, Severa encourages people to bring in photographs of the rooms they want to furnish and paint colors so staff can provide further assistance.
Some of the furniture lines include Null Furniture, Leick Home, Whittier Wood Furniture and Leggett & Platt Consumer Products.
Certain styles come and go, Severa says. Customers can find more traditional, primitive country looks among the store’s furnishings rather than modern, contemporary looks, she says.
Among the selections of recliners, living room and bedroom furniture, dinettes and home accents, the price range is wide. There is plenty to choose from as far as fabrics, colors and styles, she adds.
“We’re not just big boxy, gray or beige furniture,” Severa says. “We’re not one particular style. We have something for everyone. We have a lot of long-time customers and older clientele. They want quality, so we try to provide that.”
The most popular items are the upholstery, recliners, power lift chairs and the dinette sets, Severa says. Stewart caters to smaller homes and mostly stocks smaller-scale furniture.
Business is good because of the store’s contrast with big box chains, she continues.
Home deliveries are made every week to a wide area outside of Hubbard, Severa says, citing Boardman, Newton Falls, Salem and East Palestine as well as Hermitage and Mercer, Pa. Stewart has also sold furniture to customers in Canada.
Severa and her family have seen their customer base grow up since they’ve been a part of the business.
“We see them with their kids when their kids are little, and then their kids are here buying for their new babies. So we get to know our customers well,” Severa says. “We all live in this town. We’ve grown up in this town. So I see my customers at the grocery store, the swimming pool and the library.”
Pictured: Sally Severa is one of three owners of Stewart Furniture in Hubbard. Her mother, Mitzi, worked at Stewart after she graduated high school and her father, Ray, became an employee after World War II. Stewart closed in the early ’70s. Severa’s parents purchased it in 1976.