COOK – New empty nests usually find something to occupy their time when their children finally fly into the coop. Some trips. Some choose new hobbies.
As for Cook’s Chris and Dawn Bogdan? They bought a furniture store.
“This will be our new baby and we’re really excited,” Dawn said Monday.
The Bogdans’ only child, Haley, a recent North Woods graduate, will be heading to Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wis., this fall, and Dawn said the time has come for the couple to buy the store. Well-established Furniture Plus gift and video store at Kitchen from former owners Mike and Dianne Suomela.
And like any couple with a new baby, the Bogdans have chosen a new name for their new “baby”: Northern Comfort Company.
“Chris and I each made a list of names that we thought would work individually, and for some reason Northern Comfort Company was on both of our lists,” Dawn laughed. “We both just laughed and said, ‘That’s it. Had finished. This is the name we use. Because, I mean, how did this happen?
They also have a new logo, a sasquatch sitting on a chair that seems pretty happy with his selection.
“It’s kind of ironic, because they had a statue there for a long time that they were selling of a sasquatch, but that had nothing to do with it,” Dawn said. “It’s just kind of a fun, whimsical Northwoods thing, and we’re fun, pretty laid-back people.”
Chris said they didn’t have to think too much about shifting gears to get into the furniture business.
“We worked many years for other people, and we used to work for ourselves and we wanted to get back to that,” Chris said. “It was just a great deal. Mike has done a great job here all these years and you hate to see him go. People in town can use a store like this. So we thought heck, let’s give it a try.
It’s a partnership that’s surely destined to work considering Chris and Dawn have been together since they were 16 and live in Naperville, Illinois, a bustling, business-focused suburb of Chicago.
“We have been together for a long time. We dated for ten years and then we got married, and it’s been 24 years,” Dawn said.
Dawn owned and operated an insurance agency in Naperville and Chris was a body/paint shop manager and had spent four summers in a row vacationing at the Vermilion Dam Lodge. When Haley arrived in 2003, the couple found their priorities were changing.
“We always wanted to move up north because we love this area, so we sold everything and bought a house near Vermilion,” Dawn said.
The Bogdan family eventually became part of the Timbuktu family, with Dawn working for Timbuktu Marina as a manager for 13 years and Chris landing a six-year run with Timbuktu Marine Sales and Service as a service manager. Leaving Timbuktu was perhaps the hardest part of buying the furniture store.
“They’re very supportive of us,” Dawn said. “We are starting a new business and they are very enthusiastic. They are like a second family to us.
Monday felt like Christmas for the Bogdans due to a delivery truck showing up at the back door with 50 new pieces of furniture for the showroom floor, and on top of not giving them the furniture, Mike Suomela was the best thing to do after Santa Claus. . Knowing the extraordinary lead times for orders from its major suppliers, Suomela placed orders for this shipment last fall.
“Mike booked all of this production in the fall not knowing what he was going to do but knowing he would need to have this product in the store to be able to sell for the rest of the year and into the next “, said Dawn. “We are delighted to have it, because people are very excited when they arrive and we can deliver in a few days. This is actually the largest amount of furniture there has ever been in this store at one time. It’s a lot to take on, but we’re excited about it.
And the Bogdans didn’t wait to start focusing on next year.
“We’ve already had production booked for 2023 for five months,” Chris said. “We could take 50 custom orders and still have furniture for people by the fall of next year. People who don’t have inventory or production set aside like Mike did for us, they’ll be waiting until 2024.”
And Mike was there on Monday to help with the unloading. A few of those parts on the truck were ones he had already sold, and true to form, he was there to see the sales through to completion. It is a model of service that the Bogdans also adopt.
“We’re very big on customer service,” Dawn said, “and that’ll be good because he and I can run the business on our own, other than helping with delivery.”
Maybe it doesn’t need to be said, but the Bogdans plan to stick with the tried-and-true mix of vendors who cater to the outdoors, northern wood styles that regulars and new customers alike potentials seem willing, although over time they will add their own flair to the business.
People will soon see new stock in the Gift Shop as it will remain an integral part of the business. And whatever decisions are to come, there is no doubt that the Bogdans will make them together.
“We know each other pretty well,” Chris said with a smile. “We get along very well and we are a good team. Whatever my weaknesses, she is stronger and I have places where I can do a little more than her, so it works perfectly.
The store is located at 123 2nd Ave. SE to Cook. The phone number to call for more information is 218-666-9891, or see the Northern Comfort Company page on Facebook.