After three generations in one of the most historic buildings in the neighborhood, the Swan family has grown accustomed to the reaction people have when they walk into their furniture store - especially the cathedral room.
"Everybody just goes goofy when they see that room. It looks like a church," said Scott Swan, owner of Swan Furniture & Interiors.
In fact, the building was a chapel for a funeral parlor in the mid-1800s.
By the time Swan's grandfather, William Taft Swan, took it over in 1948, the building had been home to a beauty shop. Another part of it was a living space, where Swan's father, Peter William Swan, grew up.
The cathedral room even had an incarnation as a fish market and deli.
When the Swans moved in, the room's vaulted ceilings, distinctive beams and stained glass windows proved the perfect backdrop for their high-end furniture.
"You walk in, you just feel the history," said Sarah Steltenpohl, a designer who has been with the Swans since 1989.
When Swan's father died at age 48, his mother took over the business. Almost 10 years later, in 1997, Swan took over - embracing not only the roles of builder and deliveryman, but also business manager.
"We don't carry any junk in here," Swan said. "And by junk I mean cheap Chinese furniture. The stuff we have is expensive. It's the kind of thing you'll be able to hand down to your children and their children."
"My mother was bringing me here when I was 5, saying, 'Don't touch that!' " Steltenpohl said. Today "we are dealing with the children of the people that I used to bill years ago."
And Steltenpohl thinks she knows why.
"We try to be everything that everyone else isn't," Steltenpohl said. "We don't like to say, 'No.' If you can imagine it, we will find a way."
If you would like to suggest a business to be featured in the Business Spotlight, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (262) 446-6643
JUST THE FACTS
BUSINESS: Swan Furniture & Interiors
ADDRESS: 1348 N. Wauwatosa Ave.
PHONE: (414) 476-6522
OWNER: Scott Swan
TYPE OF BUSINESS: furniture, home furnishings and interior design
PEARLS OF WISDOM: "We try to be everything that everyone else isn't."
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- Business Spotlight: From 'bowling ball' to fitness trainer, Tony Becker's been there
- Business Spotlight: Incentive Gallery, without inventory, delivers the perfect thing
- Wauwatosa Business Spotlight: Cafe Blue takes pleasure in providing simple pleasures
- Wauwatosa Business Spotlight: Alicia Haugen, mom and designer, got into social media early
- Wauwatosa Business Spotlight: At Hoppe Tree Service, listening may be the most important thing
- Wauwatosa Business Spotlight: Chiropractor says it's not just about the spine
- Wauwatosa Business Spotlight: Daly's is helping to bring the fountain pen back
- Business Spotlight: Spring is here and gardens are blooming
- Business Spotlight: Empire Fish
- Business Spotlight: The Lutheran Home & Harwood Place
- Business Spotlight: Valentine business partners found coffee kept calling them back
- Business Spotlight: Running a remodeling company no strain in family-owned business
- Business Spotlight: The Malt Shoppe isn't selling milk shakes
- Midtown Dental Care is 'home-like' for new and long-term patients
- Wauwatosa Business Spotlight: Gigi's satisfies even the biggest craving for cupcakes
- Wauwatosa Business Spotlight: Therapist finds himself enriched by a life shaped by transitions
- Business Spotlight: Milwaukee Map surveys the world from a small store near you
- Wauwatosa Business Spotlight Yoga instructor practiced the art before it was all the rage
- Business Spotlight: Alfa Flower shop weathered some tough years, and has flourished in the economic
- The wheel of life keeps rolling at Johnson's bike store