Herman’s Furniture has been a pillar in Sandusky for well over 100 years. In 1898, Jacob H. Herman, a Russian immigrant, opened his furniture store on the corner of Market and Wayne streets. Though Mr. Herman had only a seventh-grade education, he had a great mind for business. He offered area residents a full line of household items and always stayed up-to-date with the latest products.
In 1939, Herman’s son, Ralph, joined him in the business, after returning to Sandusky from California where he attended the University of Southern California. Ralph soon assumed management of the furniture store and remained in this capacity until his father announced the closing of his store at the end of 1946.
Ralph immediately made public his plans to open his own furniture store. His temporary location was on the ground level of the Feick Building on East Market Street. Ralph’s new location, an 18,000 square foot, art deco-style building on Cleveland Road, was to be completed in the spring of 1947.
The grand opening of the new Herman’s Furniture store was held on May 15 through May 18, 1947. In discussing why he chose such a remote location for his new store, Ralph Herman stated that with the growth and expansion that Sandusky had experienced over the past several years, he believed the trend of business to be the type of ‘highway store’ he was starting (Sandusky Register, May 15, 1947). The store opened with rave reviews. One reviewer stated: “Herman’s Furniture Store offers the best furniture to be had today. Every shopping convenience is provided as they have left nothing undone with plenty of parking space, and selection of their stock with a view to perfection in three innings, namely comfort, beauty, and durability.” (Erie County Reporter, July 4, 1947)
Ralph Herman found success in his furniture business; yet, his true interest was in the theatre. In 1949, when Lou Grad and Rudy Klemperer approached him about purchasing his business, Herman readily accepted their offer.
Lou and Rudy both had extensive experience in the furniture business. The pair chose to retain the name, Herman’s Furniture, due to the long-standing history of the business. In the early 1950s, Lou and Rudy took an innovative approach and began offering their customers in-home design services. This service has remained a cornerstone of Herman’s Furniture to this day.
Lou Grad died in 1953 and passed on his share of the business to his son, Robert. Rudy Klemperer died in 1963 and passed on his share to his daughters, Mitzi and JoAnn. The second generation of owners continued Lou and Rudy’s approach to customer service, including their emphasis on in-home design.
In 1997, Joe Dandurand was hired to manage the store for the Grad and Klemperer families. Joe had completed his BA in interior design and business management at Kent State University, and had worked in the furniture industry since 1986. He accepted the position at Herman’s because of their reputation for stellar customer service, namely their design services.
Joe continued to grow the business and, in 2012, opened a design studio in Avon Lake, Ohio, to serve customers in the Cleveland area. That same year, Joe purchased the Grad family’s share of Herman’s Furniture. Joe continues in the role of store manager and designer for both the Sandusky and Avon stores.
Through hard work and great customer service, Herman’s Furniture has remained a trustworthy source for quality home furnishings. Herman’s reputation has gained them customers not only in northern Ohio, but as far as Columbus, Ohio, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Wilmington , North Carolina, St. Simons Island, Georgia, and Naples, Florida.