Eager Beaver: value at every level

Mariah and Abe Silvonen are the owners of the Eager Beaver stores in Newport and Waldport. They are pictured inside their Eager Beaver Furniture Outlet at 545 NW Hemlock St. in Waldport, a building that had sat vacant for seven years before they began an extensive improvement and remodeling project. (Photos by Steve Card)

For Abe and Mariah Silvonen, owners of the Eager Beaver stores in Newport and Waldport, doing business is all about offering customers value at every level, and then taking care of those customers.

The Silvonens started in business as the owners and operators of an Eager Beaver second-hand store in Newport’s Nye Beach District. Abe had taken over the business from his father, who opened it more than 40 years ago.

But the Eager Beaver stores of today are nothing like what Abe describes as the “funky junky” enterprise of days gone by.

A number of years ago, the Silvonens began integrating liquidation items at that Nye Beach store, then they began selling mattresses. Eventually, they began focusing more and more on home furnishings, and they quickly outgrew their Nye Beach location, “so we really started putting our feelers out, where can we go?” said Abe. “Newport was so unaffordable, and there was just no big, retail space available. It didn’t exist.”

Abe knew a person in real estate who owned a building in Waldport that had once housed a furniture store, which had been vacant for a number of years. “I leased the whole thing, 12,800 square feet,” he said. “We really only operated out of the front third. We put stuff out, and it was a success overnight.”

That was in April of 2016, and in less than a year, the Silvonens purchased that building, and they have put a lot of time, effort and money into modernizing it for what is now the Eager Beaver Furniture Outlet.

“We’re just trying to protect our investment and make ourselves cosmetically look better,” Abe said of the building improvements. “But everybody, the community, the city officials … were just so appreciative of what we’re doing. It was vacant for seven years. There was literally weeds growing out of the sidewalks.

“The first part was the façade, all new siding, all new signage,” he continued. “We got big signs from Ken Spencer at Newport Signs. He put together this huge sign, we pushed the limits on what the city would allow. We have six-foot giant beavers on either side.”

And as improvements were made to section after section of the store’s interior, the inventory continued to grow.

It wasn’t long after opening the Waldport store that Abe learned the clientele in the south county are a bit different from what he was used to in Newport.

“We basically had cloned the business model we had in Nye Beach in the beginning, which was predominately affordable home furnishings under $1,000,” he said. “Value always sells in any community, but we quickly realized, within just a couple months … that the market place was different here. The consumer is different, and they appreciate more of a higher-end item that’s still a value price, of course. So I knew then that I had to raise my quality and still maintain value.

“Value means something different for everybody, and we really offer value at every level,” he continued. “We have $99 pieces. We also have $10,000 pieces.”

Being able to offer that value to the customer takes a considerable amount of effort on the part of a business owner.

“As a buyer and an owner, that’s so difficult to do,” said Abe. “We travel all over to our dealers. I can go to 50-60 interviews with different manufacturers, different import companies before I find one that fits with what I need, with what we do and for the price point.” And even then there can be challenges, he added. “We’ve had relationships with people that get us a quality item, get us a quality price point, but then fail logistically. They can’t get it to us on time, so we have to divorce them and move on. So we’ve really narrowed this down. We do a lot of test orders, and we’re growing.”

Eager Beaver has does direct importing. “We’re bringing in containers ourselves. It saves the consumer money. Basically it allows us to bring our prices down by about 30 percent,” said Abe. “Every time we do a whole container, it’s roughly about $100,000 worth of retail furniture, even at our prices. So our buying power rivals that of any major chain store.”

Eager Beaver maintains three warehouses, which are always full. “We are always looking for deals. People criticize us, they call us crazy, (but) it just works for us,” Abe said.

This past summer, another building in Waldport became available, just across Highway 101 from the furniture outlet. That building has now become Eager Beaver Mattress Outlet. Mattresses had been the mainstay of the store on Highway 101 in Newport.

“My wife said, ‘Let’s move our mattress outlet to Waldport, and we’ll offer better products, and we’ll just do mattress and bedroom.”

That happened in July, and the Newport store has become a discount store. “We’re doing a discount outlet there, all of our scratch-and-dent, our odd stock, our liquidation,” said Abe. “ It’s a win-win because we get a bigger discount store, we get the mattresses out of the furniture gallery, we get more square footage in the furniture gallery and then we bring a better selection of mattresses to the clientele that actually wants them and appreciates them.”

And inventory at the Eager Beaver Furniture Outlet just keeps expanding as improvements continue.

“We really want to make this the destination location on the Oregon coast, period, for home furniture and décor,” said Abe. “This isn’t a cookie-cutter furniture store, nor do we want to be. Do we have some really good value, average stuff mixed in? Absolutely, but we have what nobody else has, and that also goes back to buying. We buy like nobody else.”

All of the Eager Beaver stores are open seven days a week. “That’s something we pride ourselves on. If you want to buy something on a Sunday, we’re here on Sunday,” said Abe. Hours are the same at each store — 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Eager Beaver Furniture Outlet is located at 545 NW Hemlock St. in Waldport. People can contact that store by calling 541-563-7343.

Eager Beaver Mattress Outlet is located at 180 S Coast Highway in Waldport, and that phone number is 541-563-7344.

Eager Beaver Discount Outlet is located at 355 SW Coast Highway in Newport, and it can be reached by calling 541-265-8438.

More information can be found online at www.newportmattress.com.

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