Mueller Furniture: Historic and High-Quality
by Alison Lysakowski
“I have that, too!” It is exciting when someone lets us know we share a similar taste. It is also exciting to hear, “Wow, where did you get that?” The latter question can spark an interesting conversation if you got “it” from Mueller Furniture in Belleville. Mueller is exceptional because they can provide something that no one else has, in your own unique style. I was surprised to learn just how customizable furniture can be if you get it from the right place.
Mueller Furniture is the perfect example of a family-owned and operated business, running strong for 88 years now. It was founded in 1927 by John Andrew Mueller, who operated it with his oldest son, Roland. In 1948, John’s youngest son, Les, joined the business full-time after his professional baseball career ended. After John died in 1952, Roland and Les were partners in the business. After Roland passed away in 1960 at 50 years old, Les became the sole owner and ran the store with his wife, Peggy. Their youngest son, Lynwood, started working there full-time in 1974. After Les retired around 1982, Lynwood began buying the business. He is the current owner. His son, Mark, who I interviewed for this piece, is now the co-owner and general manager. What a legacy!
Mark did not know early on that he would become so involved in the family business. He helped with furniture deliveries in 1998, but then attended college. After playing a season of minor league baseball and earning a degree in history, he was not sure what he wanted to do with his life. Dad offered him a job, and he fell in love with the furniture business. One of the things Mark loves about his job is learning interesting things from customers.
Mueller Furniture is a very familiar destination in Belleville, located at the top of a hill, on a corner. The story of what made today’s Mueller Furniture possible is a colorful one. The building itself was originally a shopping mall, before any other malls were in the area. In the 60s and 70s, there were 5 or 6 businesses occupying the mall, the most popular one being a diner called The Green Teapot. High school kids on the east end of town liked to hang out there. Mueller Furniture was one of the original stores that thrived in the mall.
Once a major mall was built in a nearby city, in 1971, businesses in the tiny Belleville mall started relocating, one by one. Mueller Furniture decided to buy the first store that became unoccupied. When another store moved, Mueller bought that space, too. The pattern repeated itself until Mueller owned every space in the mall, and the entire building was finally known solely as Mueller Furniture.
Mueller Furniture never settles for less than high quality and complete customer satisfaction. Lots of things set them apart from the usual big-box stores. When you shop at Mueller, you are supporting more than that business alone. You are supporting many American jobs, right down to the lumber suppliers, freight lines, American factories and workshops, the people who manufacture the furniture components, blacksmiths in Amish villages (where a good portion of the merchandise is crafted), and even the people who sharpen the saws there.
What also stands out about Mueller Furniture is their commitment to quality and comfort, including best value. This includes that everything available is completely customizable. Even the legs and edges of your furniture can be expertly crafted to match your current home décor. True custom finish options.
One aspect that really intrigues me is the involvement of Amish craftsmen. The furniture brand called Fusion Design is made in Amish communities. Often, an entire Amish family pitches in to build your selected furniture. They get specific on what kind of piece you would like. Choose wood species, finish, and style- totally customized, totally handcrafted. You can choose exact dimensions as well. There are also contemporary choices available. Just ask for any special detail you can think of! Also, with purchase of any of these Amish-made kitchen or dining sets, you will receive a free 8 oz. jar of homemade Amish apple butter. Delicious!
Oakwood Industries, another brand showcased at Mueller, is a Mennonite company that makes solid wood furniture in Memphis, Missouri. There are Oakwood kitchen and dining room tables and bedroom furniture on display. Customers can choose their wood species (oak, quarter-sawn oak, maple, or cherry) and then pick the wood finish.
Something that card game lovers will notice is the flip-top game table. One side of the table has a leather top that holds cards in place, and has cup holders. When you flip the table top over, you reveal a regular kitchen table. Talk about versatility and space-saving! It is made by American Heritage Billiards, and along with game tables, they also specialize in bars and bar stools.
Then there’s power recliners. Hearing the term “power recliner” initially made me think, how can I trust that a power recliner will be reliable over time? It turns out that owners of these pieces could not be happier with it. The standard manual control for a recliner tends to wear out. The footrest usually pops up quickly, a motion that can be damaging to the handle and disconcerting to the user. As for the electric version, the footrest will gently raise exactly to your desired position. Having eliminated the chance for accidental or careless abuse, the power recliner can last you much longer without issues.
Another power chair favorite is the lift chair. Many people have difficulty getting in and out of their chairs, due to physical ailments or disabilities. It can be painful, or even impossible, to use a comfortable chair without help. The lift chair solves this problem because it literally stands you all the way up with the touch of a button. No strain involved. When you want to use the chair again, it is already in a standing position for you, and with the touch of another button, you will be comfortably lowered to a sitting position. Just lean into it while it puts you where you want to be. Very cool!
And who can ignore the deluxe massage chair? Definitely not me. Mueller has the best one I have ever experienced. The brand name is Cozzia. Before you even delve into the relaxing settings, you can plug your iPod or tablet into the chair, and your choice of music will pipe in from speakers within the chair during your massage. Colored LED lights on the chair can also enhance your experience. (And they look really cool!) The chair uses an air massage system to comfort all the various areas of your body. It has heat settings and a timer. It can be reclined so that you are laying completely horizontally, which promotes circulation in your lower legs and relieves back tension. This is called “zero gravity,” which is a reference to the way people sleep in space shuttles. This can help people with body pain, even eliminating visits to the chiropractor. The chair is available in colors graphite, chocolate, and red. And with mention of this article, you will receive $500 toward your purchase of one!
Mueller Furniture works with Eye on Design, a Belleville business that creates custom window treatments: drapery, shutters, and blinds. Throughout Mueller Furniture, you will see samples of Eye on Design’s hanging drapes with information on how to coordinate and purchase them. Mueller really likes to work with other downtown businesses and advocates shopping locally.
That’s all on the main floor of the building. Downstairs, there is even more, including the Sleep Sanctuary. Find your perfect bed and sleep accessories there. One mattress brand that Mueller holds close is Bemco, from Springfield (IL), and they have been in business together for 40 years. Mark has another special deal here for Straight Up Magazine readers: anyone who comes in and mentions this article will receive an additional 15% off any Bemco or Spring Air mattress set.
I have always been interested in Tempur-Pedic beds, and Mark introduced me to the next level of such. In addition to the comfort and health benefits of sleeping on a Tempur-Pedic mattress, you can get one that will massage you and is adjustable. I tested one and found out just how beneficial it can be. By adjusting it so that your feet and head are raised, all your weight will be taken off of your lower back; it’s like having a spinal decompression. If you stand or sit a lot, blood can pool in your lower legs, feet, and ankles, causing inflammation and pain. But with the bed in this special position, circulation is promoted, alleviating your pain. Also it’s a comfortable position for reading or watching television. AND it can help stop or diminish snoring. By elevating the head just 15 degrees, your lungs and breathing passages will open up more. This is especially important for people with congestion or seasonal allergies. You can sleep better, and there are so many benefits we already know from getting better sleep. When I tested the bed, I was surprised by how much shorter my breaths were when we lowered it back to a flat position. Tempur-Pedic is designed by people who worked for NASA, and their brilliance shines through their product.
Mueller Furniture offers 25,000 square feet of pieces on display. But there’s more. For example, there are 40 Flexsteel sofas on display, yet 240 are actually available. If you visit their awesome website, you will find what is in store plus much more, 24 hours a day. It is found at http://www.muellerfurniture.com.
Along with usual furniture store items, Mueller showcases items to accentuate your choice. Self-closing drawers are available on some chests. Wall art, lamps, mirrors, and grandfather clocks all can complete a room with new furniture, and Mueller has them. Also, they have all sizes of TV consoles available.
After learning how professional this furniture store is, one might figure it comes along with a hefty price tag. But it turns out that when comparing like items at big-box stores, Mueller actually saves you money. The reason for that is, they can order items as wanted, rather than stocking up large quantities. With no pressure to move product quickly, they are able to be very price-competitive. When you are efficient with business operations, you will be able to create great deals for your customers. Big-box stores tend to overcharge the individual for the sake of items they will not be able to sell, but Mueller has the opposite tactic- valuing the individual! That is the type of place I am much more inclined to spend my money.
Mueller Furniture’s motto is simple, yet so important: Quality Furniture for Less. Whether you are looking to break the bank or save the pennies, Mueller encompasses all kinds of prices. They stay organized so there will be no headaches or disappointments. This store is truly all about each individual customer, of every type. Next time you are in the market for a new piece, I suggest you consider the heart behind the seller you choose. Mueller Furniture. Quality. Local. Family owned.
1004 East Main Street