LAKEVIEW — Before Wrightwood Furniture opened on Lincoln Avenue over the weekend, the store's owners had a long family history in the furniture business — going back to the beginning of the last century, in fact.
The Cohen family began selling used furniture in Douglas Park after moving to Chicago from Russia. The next generation pioneered formica dinette sets.
By the time the Douglas and Michael Cohen got into the business, the family was designing and manufacturing pieces for stalwarts like Crate and Barrel, Pier 1 Imports and World Market.
After years of selling furniture wholesale, the father-and-son duo decided to use their knowledge to return to retail roots to eliminate problems they saw, they said. On Saturday, they opened Wrightwood Furniture, 3036 N. Lincoln Ave.
No mass production of pieces, they decided. The Cohens work with 10 factories in Asia, and each furniture piece is produced only one to three times, specifically for Wrightwood, giving their customers' homes a unique flavor.
By shipping straight from factories, the Cohens also aim to cut costs on quality furniture, they said.
Most of the pieces are hand-painted and hand-made with all wood. Smaller accent pieces cost $150, while the biggest pieces — like a kitchen cabinet or buffet — go for as much as $1,000, with a goal of "less than World Market" prices, they said.
And every piece manufactured in Indonesia is part of the Trees 4 Trees program, a nonprofit organization that helps farmers plant trees and tells the furniture buyer exactly which farmer planted the tree from which their new piece is made.
The program is part of the Cohens' effort to see furniture made more eco-friendly.
The Cohens see Wrightwood as a place for the "eclectic" home designer to pick out special pieces — and as a retail version of what their family has learned from wholesale.
"The average consumer is tired of seeing furniture in someone else's home and saying 'I have that same piece,'" said Douglas Cohen, the father of the duo. "We wanted to develop a business model where we had unique furniture, and someone could decorate eclectically and say 'I found this.'"
The storefront currently houses 400 to 500 pieces, from French-style upholstered chairs to "Mad Men"-era style chests. In December, a bottom floor of the store will also be filled, upping the inventory to about 1,000 pieces.
The store provides pick-up, same-day delivery from the Lakeview store and online sales. Delivery to Lakeview homes will cost about $11 to $15, depending on the product.
The Cohens hope the individual pieces will speak to people in the neighborhood, they said.
"We need to find one person in Chicago to say 'I love this item,'" Michael Cohen said. "It's about making homes more unique, speaking to people's unique tastes."