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June 1, 2013

Shop offers down-home quality

By Cathy B. Koplen Contributing Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Walking into The Pine Shop Quality Home Furnishings in Oneonta, visitors are greeted with the scent of fresh cut wood.

The store, located at 5382 State Highway 7, has a large selection of unfinished pine furniture as well as upholstered sofas and chairs, finished entertainment centers, book cases, beds and chests. There are a myriad of prints on the walls of the split-level shop. Lamps and accent pieces sit upon many tables.

“A room expresses a person’s personality,” said co-owner Tim Ash. “It is more than just the furniture; you have to have the accents.”

The Ash family — brothers Tim and Harold Ash and their mother, Pat Ash — have been in the furniture business since 1974. Prior to opening The Pine Shop, Pat Ash and her husband, Dave Ash, who is now deceased, sold prefabricated homes. When that business closed, they decided to open a furniture store.

“We saw a need that was not being met in Oneonta,” said Pat Ash.

The Ash family had been accessorizing the homes they sold, so the transition was not difficult. They decided to carry quality, real wood furniture, and researched companies that fit the criteria.

“We wanted to stay with real wood, no particle board,” said Pat Ash. “It will not swell or fall apart. Our furniture will last for generations.”

Because Tim and Harold Ash grew up helping their parents — first in the prefabricated home business and then in the furniture business — they have seen several generations of area residents come into their shop.

“We are working with second-, sometimes third-generation customers,” said Harold Ash.

The once-popular hope chest has experienced something of a renaissance in recent years. A hope chest was once used to accumulate items necessary for a young married woman to begin a household. A mother would begin collecting linens, silver, china, pots and pans over her daughter’s childhood and give the box as a wedding present.

“Now we have parents coming in for a hope chest for their son or daughter who is graduating from college and moving out on their own,” said Pat Ash.

Harold Ash said the ability to understand trends in the industry is one reason the family has been able to make a profitable business over the years.

“There are trends and you have to know them,” Harold Ash said. “Some years back, gun cabinets were really popular, we could hardly keep them in stock. Now, I hardly sell any.”

The Pine Shop plans to expand its line of accessories and bring in more gift items in coming months.

The Ash family has seen some changes during the past 40 years, but more in trends than in economics.

“People have to start out somewhere, whether it is cheap particle board or someone’s hand-me-down furniture,” Tim Ash said. “When people settle down, buy a house or start a family — that is usually when they start thinking about quality furniture. They might remember a hutch or a table they had when they were a child, and they want to recreate that feeling of home.”