As the new owners of The Warehouse, Emily and Jeff Register are carrying on a business created by Emily's grandparents more than 30 years ago.
But this next generation has added fresh displays and ideas to the flooring, furniture, fabrics and home accessories store at 8550 U.S. Highway 301 South.
A warehouse it truly is, measuring about 35,000 square feet. But the showroom occupies only a portion, and the new owners have reoriented the showroom within the building as part of the new look.
Updated arrangements of flooring displays and merchandise are meant to give customers a hint of how various elements can work together.
"We like to let people know that your flooring goes along with your furniture, and the fabrics you choose," Emily Register said. "Everything goes together to create a look."
The business is both a family tradition and a new adventure for her. Emily Register's grandparents, Patsy Bowen and the late Moses Jackson "Jack" Bowen, founded the company in 1985. At first it occupied the big building on West Cherry Street behind the Statesboro post office.
The name was spelled differently, as Wearhouse, when the Bowens sold used clothing by the pound, but they changed the name to the usual spelling, Warehouse, when they moved the business to the 301 South location, Register said. Floor coverings and fabrics have long been part of the wares.
Earlier this year, when Patsy Bowen announced she wanted to retire, the Registers decided to take up the challenge even though they had other careers and were living in Atlanta.
Jeff, originally from Homerville, met Emily when they were students at the University of Georgia. He has a bachelor's degree in agricultural economics and a master's in forestry, and she has a bachelor's in agribusiness.
They both worked several years for the same Atlanta-based timberland investment company: he as a portfolio manager and she in the accounting department. But after twins Jeffrey III and Sumner Moses were born in September, joining older siblings Brantley, 4, and Ellis, 2, Emily left the forestry company to become a stay-at-home mom for a time.
But then her grandmother's business became available, and presented an attractive opportunity for several reasons, Emily Register said.
"Jeff and I kind of came in at the last minute," she said. "It was something we had thought about, but then it just happened really quickly. It was very exciting. We have four small children, so it was a big decision for us to move our family. Be we've moved back home, so that's part of the draw."
Besides, for her it meant keeping alive the business where she recalls working and playing during summers with the grandmother she sometimes calls "Gia."
"Growing up running on the carpet rolls and tucking the fabric tales in, that was our summer job for countless years, and this was one of our favorite places to go when we were little, for me and my sisters and all over our cousins, actually," Register said. "We all loved The Warehouse."
Employs 9 so far
The Registers are two of businesses' five full-time employees. They employ four other people part-time, including some Georgia Southern University students, and said they may be looking to hire more.
Flooring is an aspect of the business that requires trips out of the store. One morning last week while Emily was being interviewed, Jeff picked up some carpet samples and headed to Rincon to measure five houses. They also get customers from Pooler, Vidalia and sometimes farther, besides those from the Statesboro area.
"A lot of our flooring has been residential. We hope to get into commercial more, but we love residential. We love interacting with our customers," said Emily Register. "That's my favorite part of the job."
Their flooring options include carpets by makers such as Mohawk, Shaw and Lexmark, as well as tile, sheet vinyl, laminates, hardwoods and the material called LVP, or luxury vinyl planks.
The Warehouse's furniture selection includes makes such as Bramble, Ashley, and a brand the new owners recently added, Mayo. They carry what Register calls "previously loved" furniture as well as new items. Her grandparents carried more used furniture in the past, and she wants to regrow this part of the business, she said.
In fabrics, The Warehouse has about 500 bolts displayed on racks for browsing, mainly in decorator patterns. Many customers buy fabric for custom drapery and bedding projects, and sometimes to reupholster a sofa or chair, Register said.
The home accessories range from things such as lamps and vases to wall art, including prints and canvasses.
Besides all these indoor things, The Warehouse is a U-Haul dealer, renting trucks and trailers, and is open on Saturdays, which not all U-Haul dealers are.
Although she sold the business to the Registers, Patsy Bowen still owns the building. She still comes to work there a few times each week, and hasn't asked to be paid for this, her granddaughter said.
"She loves working with her customers too, so she can't step away from it completely. ...," Register said. "We're hoping to continue to learn from her and to keep doing what she has done so well."
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.