Wells Home Furnishings is bringing high-tech interior design and down-home customer service to the Morgantown area.
It was 1994. The World Wide Web had finally become a thing, email was starting to surpass snail mail, satellite TV services were just taking off, and workers completed a 31-mile tunnel—with the longest undersea portion in the world—connecting England and France. It was a year for big, brave innovations, but not just for the largest players.
That same year, John Wells, III, and his father, John Wells, Jr., cut the ribbon on a 12,000-square-foot custom furniture store they named Wells Home Furnishings in Charleston. The father-son duo offered high-quality, fashion-forward furniture—everything from bedroom sets to dining tables to accessories—most made in America and Amish-made as well. All of these options came with the added bonus of guaranteed pricing against any competitor in the United States and free local delivery. “We just felt there was a need for a different type of furniture store in the area,” says owner John Wells. To further differentiate his company, John took a chance on a new technology, too—one that allowed him to show customers how furniture looked with different fabrics. Wells, he says, became one of the first companies to adopt the new technology.
More than two decades later, Wells is still at the forefront. That 12,000-square-foot space in Charleston has expanded to 40,000. The store now offers more than 100 brands and in-depth, in-home design services coupled with a new 3D design program that allows customers to tour their newly planned spaces in the virtual world—complete with custom furniture, paint, window treatments, rugs, and even accessories. And with the opening of a new store in Westover in April 2015, Wells is bringing its highly customized products and services to an ever-larger market.
Take Exit 152 off Interstate 79 in Westover and you’ll find the new store conveniently tucked right off the main road. It’s smaller than its Charleston counterpart, but don’t be fooled. “We’re only 8,000 square feet, but we hardly sell anything off the floor,” says store manager Jason Wells of the meticulously styled space.
His show floor is immaculate. Polished wood floors gleam. Walls in an assortment of colors cordon off fashionably arranged living rooms, dining spaces, and bedrooms with furniture and accessories in rich hues, bold patterns, and elegant textures. “We have hundreds and hundreds of fabric options and custom furniture styles where you can change the arms, the legs, and the finish, or get a custom size. In terms of style, we go from traditional to transitional. It runs the gamut.”
Jason is the son of John Wells and the third generation to be part of the family furniture business. “This is a new idea for Morgantown, but we tell everyone the outsides of our two stores are different, but they offer the same services, the same focus on customer care, and the same vendors.”
Wells has been successful in the Charleston area and, increasingly, in Morgantown, not only because of its focus on customer service—both John and Jason take the time to call customers after every delivery, send thank you cards, and solicit feedback—but because they’ve never been afraid to adapt. “The furniture industry is now a fashion industry. When you had a fabric 30 years ago, it would be in the line for four years or more. Now, if you have a fabric that lasts a year, that’s impressive,” John says. “Customers are often afraid to make a big buying decision because of that.”
With the company’s in-home design services, Jason says, busy customers don’t have to grapple with those choices. “Instead of a customer going store to store and trying to piece together a look, they’re working from an overall plan created by a designer for their space,” he says. “It keeps them from making costly mistakes. And they can still do it in phases. They have no obligation to buy the pieces we come up with.”
Caitlin Furbee, an interior designer and associate at Wells in Westover, says that’s one reason she was drawn to her current position. “We take the time to find what’s best for the client,” she says. “When customers come here, they can feel they’re making a smart investment for their homes and families.”
For customers in an increasingly fast-paced world, the level of one-on-one attention and flexibility is crucial, especially when it comes to shaping the very spaces where we live, work, and play. “We’re helping others create spaces in their homes for their families to enjoy for years to come,” John says. “That’s why I love this industry.”
1040 Fairmont Road, 304.322.2129, wellshome.com/morgantown
WRITTEN BY MIKENNA PIEROTTI
PHOTOGRAPHED BY CARLA WITT FORD