SYCAMORE – Ronesha Pena said two things drew her and her husband, Omar, to Sycamore to open a furniture store: the friendly environment and a desire to sell furniture that will last for generations.
Pena put that desire on hold Sunday as the couple moved their inventory out of Fargo Home Furnishings, 355 W. State St. She said she and Omar decided to officially close the store Friday because of health reasons, but will continue selling custom furniture from home and providing one-on-one design consultations.
“I just can’t give it the time that it needs,” Pena said. “I have a priority, and it’s no longer the store.”
Pena, who grew up in the Bahamas, opened Fargo Home Furnishings three years ago.
The building, previously known as the Fargo Hotel, went through a series of owners before developer John Pappas renovated and repurposed it in 2016 with retail space on the first floor and apartments on the second and third floors.
The historic Reuben Ellwood Mansion, around which the hotel was built in the 1920s, was demolished for parking space as part of the 2016 renovations.
The building remained a hotel under several owners until 1972, when the top two floors went out of use because of their prohibitive cost. The building was later modernized and reopened as a hotel with a banquet room on the first floor in 1983.
Pena’s introduction to Sycamore was Pumpkin Fest. She said the celebration reminded her of the fictional town of Glenoak, California, from the TV show “7th Heaven” because it was so down-to-earth.
“Coming from a place where everyone is friendly and to find a place like that in the states, which is very hard to find, it made me feel like home,” Pena said.
Growing up in a family of carpenters and having a father who built custom cabinets, Pena said she knows what high-quality furniture is and that a community such as Sycamore deserves quality pieces with prices lower than what can be found in Chicago. She also brought with her two years of experience in furniture sales, where she said she learned quickly.
Pena and her husband greeted more than 10 customers within the first hour of opening at noon Friday and helped one in particular choose the right pieces for a rustic look. She said her goal is to sell something that will last for decades.
“You’re looking at furniture that’s not going to last you one, but maybe two lifetimes,” Pena said. “It’s something you can pass on to your family.”
Doug and Donna Chamberlain, retired Sycamore School District 427 teachers, stopped in Fargo Home Furnishings during the store’s going-out-of-business sale Friday. They said they are sad to see it go.
“It’s too bad because they have really nice stuff,” Donna said.
Arizona resident Mary McCormick-McMahon, along with her husband, Ray McMahon, and sister, Sarah McCormick, stopped in after a Sycamore High School class reunion for the Class of 1959. The last time they visited Sycamore, five years ago, the building Fargo Home Furnishings inhabited was known as the Jane Fargo Hotel and included a restaurant and bar area on the first floor.
“It’s a shame they have to close this wonderful store,” McCormick-McMahon said.
Pena said she is not sure if she will open another furniture store in the future, but will focus on her health for the time being.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” she said.
Source: The Daily Chronicle