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Making a house ... a home

Steinberg's, Turk Furniture still bringing beauty to area homes

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 4:30 p.m. CDT

Couches, end tables, bedroom sets, kitchen tables, lamps ... Two longtime Illinois Valley businesses have been furnishing the homes of the area for years, and both businesses credit their longevity to providing top-notch customer service.

Steinberg's Furniture of Peru and Turk Furniture of LaSalle have both been in existence for more than 100 years. Both stores also have several employees who have many years of experience helping customers.

Steinberg Furniture

Steinberg's Furniture began in 1888 in Spring Valley by I.L. Steinberg, the great-grandfather of the current owner, Bruce Steinberg.

Steinberg's great-grandfather came to America from Lithuania in the 1800s.

"He settled in the Chicago area and worked for a wholesale company," said Steinberg. "One of his stops was in Spring Valley, and since the town was booming as a result of the coal mines in the area, he decided to open his own store on Dakota Street close to where Citizens (First National Bank) is now located."

After moving to St. Paul Street in downtown Spring Valley, I.L. Steinberg was joined in the business by his two sons, Maurice and Harry, who continued to run the business until the mid 1960s when it passed on to their sons, Charlie and Mickey.

Originally a dry goods store, the business added furniture and home furnishings, and later appliances and floor coverings. As the furniture division of the business continued to grow, the clothing, appliances and floor coverings were eliminated. The store's name was then changed to Steinberg's Furniture.

Following Mickey's death in 2005 and Charlie's retirement, the store is now operated by Bruce Steinberg and his sister, Leslie Ruda, fourth generation family members.

Bruce Steinberg grew up in the family business, starting full time in 1986 after working in radio after his graduation from college. He became the owner after his dad, Charlie, retired. Steinberg's wife, Bonnie, and sister, Leslie Ruda, also work in the business.

Steinberg's Furniture was located in downtown Spring Valley until 1976 when a big fire consumed the building in which it was housed. It was then moved to the former Skater's Junction building on Route 6 at the west edge of Peru that had been vacant for several years.

"We are a family business that can adjust quicker than big box stores," Steinberg said. "We are on the frontline as trends change, We can change quicker than those larger stores who have to go through 50 different levels of management. We carry new things, and if they don't work, we can move on to the next thing.

"Anybody can sell something. We take pride in the before and after service after a customer buys something from us," Steinberg said. "We have never been a high- pressure store.

"We stand behind anything we sell," he added. "We are not going anywhere. We have had competitors come and go in this market. When they leave, their customers have problems."

Turk Furniture

Turk Furniture was started in 1885 in Joliet by Frank Turk. Turk Furniture also has stores in Joliet, Bradley and Danville.

Turk Furniture in LaSalle is located at the intersection of Second and Joliet streets while the Ottawa store's address is 801 LaSalle St. The Ottawa store has been in town since 1971 and has been at several other places than its current location

Frank Turk IV and Mike Turk, the current owners of Turk Furniture, are the fifth generation descendants of the founder, Joseph Turk who started the business in downtown Joliet 127 years ago in 1885.

In 1990, the retail store in Joliet was moved across the street and stayed there until 2002, when the flagship store was moved to the intersection of Interstate 55 and Route 30 behind the Louis Joliet Mall.

In 1977, Turk Furniture bought the LaSalle store from Hummer Furniture at its current location where it had operated since the early 1900s. It was known as Hummer-Turk Furniture for four or five years before becoming Turk Furniture, according to Art Washkowiak, current store manager in LaSalle.

The current building in LaSalle was built as a furniture store and was divided off in the 1930s as a radio station on the third floor and unemployment office on the first floor. The faded call letters of the radio station are still visible on the building's west wall.

Washkowiak, who has been the store manager for 10 years, said there are 15 to 20 full- and part-time employees in the delivery, sales and service departments. He came to Turk Furniture after 35 years working for Montgomery Ward and had been the mayor of LaSalle for 12 years.

"We have gone from delivering by horse and buggy to Internet furniture sales," Washkowiak said.

"Customers can find it all here at Turk Furniture from hope chests to curio cabinets to whole rooms to finding one piece of furniture that is the right piece for your home." he said, adding the sales staff at Turk Furniture tries to find out as much information as possible from the customer to help them make the right decision.

"Many people who buy furniture are afraid to make a mistake in terms of color and style, but the sales staff will help them make the right decision. We make customers secure with their decision and to help beautify their home," he said.

"The family is committed to customer service during and after the sales," Washkowiak said. "Our experienced sales staff helps customers make the best decision on style and color for their home and their lifestyle."

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