Small Business

Discounts and social media fuel small furniture business

Owner Rhonda Jordan Dawe says she uses Facebook to connect with potential buyers for her business Furniture Flip.
Owner Rhonda Jordan Dawe says she uses Facebook to connect with potential buyers for her business Furniture Flip. Correspondent

Don’t be misled by the sign on the door. Furniture Flip is almost always open, thanks to the store’s Facebook page and over 8,000 followers.

“I might be in my bedroom taking a payment at 12:50 a.m.,” said owner Rhonda Jordan Dawe. “It’s virtually a 24-hour thing.”

Dawe opened the discount furniture store in December. She says she prices her inventory at 60 percent of what the same items cost in major retail stores. She’s able to do so, she says, by keeping her overhead low and buying truckloads of returned, overstocked, pulled and never-claimed items originally intended for other stores.

It’s Dawe’s first retail business, but she clearly has an eye for furnishings and a knack for marketing and customer service. She’s a combination of personal shopper, interior decorator and group discussion leader for customers.

“We can figure something out to go under it,” she says over the telephone to a woman who earlier bought a vanity from her. “Maybe a parson’s chair.”

Which she happens to have on hand.

Dawe said she had been working as a drug and alcohol counselor when medical problems in her family made it imperative that she make more money – and do it on her own time. She started buying and selling the contents of storage units.

“It’s nothing like the TV show,” she said, referring to a reality TV show called “Storage Wars.”

From there she started buying and selling the kind of furniture she does now on Facebook pages devoted to people doing just that. She started her own page in December and as of Wednesday had 8,340 members. It’s a closed page, meaning Dawe controls who can post comments there.

Three months ago, she outgrew her first store on South Washington and moved into a 3,400-square-foot space that had housed the Rainbo Bakery Outlet on Southeast Drive. She’s out of space there, too, renting a truck trailer to hold overflow.

The store is open Wednesday through Sunday, but Dawe says Facebook and word of mouth are the real keys to her operation.

“When I post an item, usually they sell within five to 10 minutes,” she said. Some page members “have their phones set to ding when I post.”

When a page member comments about an item, she said, “I immediately comment back. It’s like we have a running conversation going. I get up to 250 messages a day.”

The store’s showroom is occupied by couches, love seats and other large items. But Dawe said the bulk of her sales are less expensive items such as a $100 bunk bed and $120 television stand. The store offers assembly and delivery anywhere in Wichita.

Dawe said the operation has been so successful that it has already inspired a couple of imitators, but she says it’s “not as easy as it looks.”

She’s proud of having recently helped a visually impaired man who had moved to Wichita to work at Envision furnish his apartment for less than $1,000, including bed, mattress, two dressers, TV stand and futon.

“I know exactly what it is to not have money for the electric bill and yet not have a couch to sleep on,” she said.

Now you know

Furniture Flip

Address: 2536 S. Southeast Drive

Phone: 316-821-7241

Owner: Rhonda Jordan Dawe