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Built to Last

Amish-Made Furniture Has Found a Home in Nashville

Article by Sue Baldani

Photography by James Williams

Originally published in Franklin Lifestyle

With more and more furniture being imported from overseas, the quality is not always the best. And there often isn't the ability to customize this furniture.

Gary O’Reilly, the owner of O’Reilly’s Amish Furniture in Nashville, wanted something better for his customers. “I’ve been in the furniture business since 1972,” he says. “In 2010 or 2011, I was at a furniture show in Chicago and there were two Amish people who had some things on display,” he says. “They got my attention.”

He bought one of the bedroom sets to showcase at his store, which at the time was in Illinois, and within the first week he sold two of them. He then bought more, and they again sold within the first week. He kept buying and they kept selling. At this point, he decided to get rid of all the manufactured and imported furniture he had in stock and replace it with this beautifully handmade Amish furniture.

In 2018, Gary sold his business in Illinois when he and his wife, Tomi, moved to Nashville to be near family. He knew he didn’t want to retire. He loved the work and loved the furniture business, and so two years ago he opened O’Reilly’s Amish Furniture.

What makes Amish furniture so special? “Number one, it’s solid wood,” he says. “There is no particle board. Number two, it’s made in America. And number three, the finishes are wonderful.” It’s also extremely customizable. “You can take a 66-inch dresser and make it 64 ½ or 69; you can make it 36 inches high or 46 inches high.”

In addition, customers can choose from over 407 types of hardware as well as choose their wood including oak, maple, cherry, hickory, elm, and walnut. “I’ll sometimes spend an hour and a half with a husband and wife to pick out a table,” says Gary. “There’s the shape, the size, the base, with leaves or without, and edging.” There are nine different edges available just for a table.

“On our floor right now, we have approximately 35 tables and chairs, so I walk the customers around and they show me what they like,” he says. “We have a big wall that has 75 10 x 10 inch boards in six different woods, and there are 16 colors of each wood.” They’re attached with Velcro, so people can take them off and lay them on a table.

If something in the store is not exactly what a customer wants, customized pieces can be made. He first asks the person to find a style they like on the floor, and then he designs and sketches from there. Once the sketch is approved, he sends it out to be built. “When someone comes in to ask if they can get a particular thing, I always interrupt them and say ‘yes,’” says Gary. “We can basically do whatever you want.”

O’Reilly’s Amish Furniture also carries three high quality American-made upholstery lines, as well as American-made lamps and more. “One of the other big draws is the handmade dual-pillow top flippable Amish mattresses,” he says. “Even the box springs are real box springs."

“What I sell reflects me. I’m pickier than my customers in most cases. I have high expectations and Amish furniture fulfills those expectations.” Today, he buys direct from 40 to 50 Amish builders, and it’s all real bench-built handmade furniture.

People drive from 100 miles away to shop at the store. “We deliver and set up everything within a hundred-mile radius,” says Gary. “We’ve also made four deliveries to Florida this past year.”

Customers are always thanking him for opening a store like this. “People love the quality. We’re getting toward the end of our second year here and I think I’m doing about 50% more business than I had hoped for. It’s blown away my expectations and the people have just been wonderful. They are so friendly and nice.”

At different points, his wife, children and other family and friends have worked alongside Gary in the business. Today, his daughter Stefanie handles the website and social media.Stop in and discover how O’Reilly’s Amish Furniture can change the look and feel of your home.