Green Front Furniture is one of the nation’s top 100 furniture resellers with locations in Virginia and North Carolina. The original and largest location is spread over several blocks of downtown Farmville, Virginia (population 6,845), a small town along the Appomattox River about an hour south of Charlottesville in Central Virginia.
Green Front comprises 15 buildings of furniture, including four renovate 1840s tobacco warehouses, and six main street storefronts, stocked to the brim with fine home furnishings, rugs, imports and accessories. This sprawl of no-frills buildings has no air conditioning in August, or heat in January. That's one reason the prices of high-end sofas, beds, tables, lamps and mirrors are so low.
Green Front draws fervent fans from hundreds of miles away including many interior designers. It’s not unusual to see license plates from South Carolina and Delaware, or diplomat plates from Washington, D.C. Green Front has even draw many international shoppers (Green Front ships all over the world) with some customers flying private jets to the tiny Farmville airport, but luckily Green Front is an easy day trip from our area.
Many dedicate an entire day to the unforgettable experience of exploring Green Front as it has more in common with a scavenger hunt than it does with the typical trip to the local furniture store. Massive brick warehouses, towering piles of rugs, mazes of furniture - Green Front is a vast, discount furniture utopia waiting to be explored.
The operation began many years ago when Richard Cralle, Sr. bought Green Front Grocery. Richard passed the store down to his son, Dickie, (Richard Cralle, Jr.) who, after graduating from nearby Hampden-Sydney College in 1965, decided to try the furniture and rug business and switched from dry goods to home goods, and Green Front Furniture was born.
Cralle started buying up abandoned department stores, historic warehouses and gas stations on Main Street in Farmville, a once-thriving tobacco town. Over the years, Cralle’s real estate empire has turned Main Street into a tourist attraction for shoppers attracted by discounted home furnishings.
Rugs make up about 35 percent of the operation’s sales, and they are the main attraction for many customers within a 500-mile radius. Cralle says his discounts are 40 to 50 percent off what he calls “usual retail price” because he and his buyers go directly to global rug weavers, to broadloom mills in Georgia and to furniture makers in North Carolina and pay cash.
His overhead is notoriously low. The 90 employees wear shorts in the summer and coats in the winter. There is no catalogue or online buying, no evening or Sunday hours. Forget carefully staged room settings. Here, burlap
bales of rugs clog the aisles, and insulation sticks out of the walls. In the infamous Rummage Pile, hundreds of 2-by-3-foot or 3-by-5-foot Orientals are priced at $30 to $100 and tossed in a Filene’s Basement-style jumble.
Visiting Green Front can be a bit overwhelming so it’s helpful to prepare yourself. This shopping scavenger hunt will put your perseverance to the test, but if you endure you will be rewarded with fine furnishing at fabulous discounts!
Your exploration will be primarily self-guided, with a Green Front Field Guide mapping the way and helping you find specific styles and manufacturers. Be sure to pick one up upon arrival, you can’t shop Green Front without it! Some other items that are helpful to bring on your shopping expedition are a tape measure, fabric and paint samples to find complimentary pieces to your existing furniture and wall color, and of course your walking shoes!
All of that shopping and walking will certainly work up an appetite. Downtown Farmville has many
delicious dining options, a few of our favorites are Charley’s Waterfront Café, Fishin’ Pig, Walker’s Den,
and Uptown Coffee Café.
If not everyone in your party is interested in shopping there are many other opportunities for exploration and fun. Nearby you’ll find High Bridge Trail, the slow-flowing Appomattox River, Longwood and Hampden-Sydney Colleges, museums, and bed and breakfasts.
In the same way, Green Front captivates its visitors with its wide selection of rugs and furniture, Farmville captivates visitors with its small-town charm and variety. So, plan a day trip to Green Front Furniture for a fine furniture scavenger hunt and be sure to enjoy Farmville while you’re there.
For more information, visit www.greenfront.com.
Are you interested in hot real estate topics, tips and trends?
Click below to subscribe to our blog!