SPRINGFIELD TWP.  Living in this area, many of us have shopped at Wayside Furniture, a long-standing business in the Springfield community.

This year, Wayside, 1367 Canton Road, is celebrating its 80th anniversary and is looking for community members to join in the celebration. The family oriented store is offering a variety of events throughout the year. Events, which will continue through December, consist of free movies (including the popcorn) to a coffee and chocolate fest at the Wayside Cafe.

The Wayside history

The company began in 1937 and today, its president is John Ferrato, the grandchild of Italian immigrants. The family's last name was orginally Pizzoferrato, but Ferrato's uncle, a doctor, heard his name being paged as "Dr. Pizzoferrato" and decided to shorten it. Ferrato's father also did the same.

Ferrato's father was the "Good Humor" ice cream man, driving the trucks and eventually becoming a district manager. Ferrato's parents moved to a home in South Euclid and later to a century home on the Underground Railroad in Brecksville. Ferrato says he remembers his father moving from the ice cream industry to a position Sterling Lindner Davis, a dowtown Cleveland department store known for decorating the largest Christmas tree in Ohio. He eventually began working in the store's furniture department.

The family of 11 eventually moved to Chicago, with 11 kids to feed, his dad took a job with Stratford/Stratolounger, which is one of the largerst manufacturers of recliners in the world. be one of the biggest manufactures in the world. Later, the family moved to North Carolina for another manufacturing job.

In 1971, the family grew to 12 children and moved back to Ohio. Wayside Furniture had burned down and the owners were looking for someone to rebuild and run the company. Ferrato's father took the job.

In 1979, Ferrato's older brother, Blaise, left law school to work with his father at the store and in 1982 Ferrato also began working at the store to work his way through college. Ferrato was - what the industry refers to as a schlepper - doing whatever was needed, from moving furniture to cleaning toilets. Ferrato said he will never forget the day his dad had him replace the sewage sump pump.

The family purchased the store in 1985 and less than two years later, Ferrato's father passed away. Blaise became president at age 35 and Ferrato vice president at age 22 - his senior year of college and the year he was going to be married.

The company experienced tremendous growth under the brothers' leadership. Additions were built in 1991 and 1994 that more than doubled the size. They also built a 125,000 square-foot warehouse in 1995.

Ferrato says a reason for the growth was that they changed the pricing. He said most furniture stores continue to sell the way many car dealers do, by haggling with the price. The Ferratos decided to simply mark everything to the lowest price they were willing to sell it for. Since that pricing change, the business has expanded eight times. 

In 1999, Blaise died just days after his wedding and Ferrato became president. It was a very difficult time for the family, according to Ferrato, who said employees, some whom had been with the company for many years, were there to help.

Employee Mandy Zook said that working at Wayside is "a family atmosphere."

In 2000, the store grew again purchasing the property next door and expanding the leather display. They used recycled brick from a warehouse in Chicago and reclaimed heart pine from an old library in New York for the flooring.

Wayside Cafe

The Wayside Cafe was opened in the new building and it is operated by Ferrato's sister, Marianne, and her husband, Allen.

Only homemade items are served, including the soups, breads and desserts. It also offers coffees, cappuccinos and smoothies. Specials are offered daily and seasonal items from the small onsite garden are used. 

Growing Again

The property on the other side of the building was purchased in 2005 and used for a clearance outlet.

The Canton Road is the only Wayside location and Ferrato says there are no plans to expand. The Wayside philosophy, he said, is that keeping to one location is the best way to keep prices down.

Ferrato says he can't believe that 2017 marks his 35th year at Wayside and the 80th year the store has been in business.

"I feel incredibly lucky to do something I enjoy with 173 awesome co-workers in a community that has been very good to our families," he said.

Store hours are Sunday noon to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 9p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information, call 877-499-3968 or visit www.wayside-furniture.com.