The store’s Longview location was shut down for roughly six weeks at the start of the pandemic, operating on an appointment-only basis until Elam’s request to have Elam’s Home Furnishings classified as an essential business due to the lift chairs and adjustable beds it has in its inventory. The state granted Elam’s request, and the store was allowed to reopen about two weeks earlier than it would have if it hadn’t earned an essential business classification. “It was rough because we weren’t in very good shape when I took over, but miracles happen,” Elam said. “We made it through, and now we’ve expanded.” Since then, business has been booming in Longview.
Elam’s parents founded the furniture store in 1987 and operated in Rainier, Oregon, until 2001, when the family moved to Longview. They kept both stores open for about three years before closing the Rainier store. Elam’s is truly a family business, with the majority of its Longview and Centralia staff made up of family members or close family friends. Elam himself has been involved with the business for 26 years, 12 of which he’s been the owner.
Elam took over as owner in 2009, right at the tail end of the Great Recession. “These are my kind of people up here,” Elam said.
“I don’t think anybody could have guessed the pent up demand,” he said. As for business in Centralia? Aside from the general shipping delays and supply chain interruptions that have impacted businesses worldwide, Elam said that the store’s biggest struggle when it comes to inventory is just keeping up with customer demand.
The furniture store specializes in custom orders, Elam said, and nowadays those can take six months to be processed and delivered to the customer. “It’s been crazy, actually. It’s been good,” Elam said. “The hard part is getting inventory … I don’t care what industry you’re in, it’s awful.”
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