The History of Selden’s Stores
The Selden family has been associated with Pierce County commerce for nearly 8 decades. Syd Selden, a 1923 graduate of Tacoma’s Lincoln High School, worked his way up from Stock Boy to Assistant Manager of the carpet department of Schoenfeld’s Furniture, formerly located in downtown Tacoma. In the early 1930s he left Schoenfeld’s and accepted a position as the manager of People’s Store, also in downtown Tacoma. And it was in April of 1940 that Syd opened his own floor-covering store.
When the business opened in 1940 Selden’s employed only 5 people and had a back room stocked with rolls of linoleum, window shades, and carpeting. Window shades and linoleum became priority items with the onset of World War II, as the nation’s carpet mills stopped producing carpet in order to weave blankets and other wartime essentials. For nearly 2 years, Selden’s was without any linoleum or carpet to offer residential clients. Customers in the area, however, were anxious to purchase blackout blinds. Blackout blinds turned out to be the product that pulled the company through what could have been a tough economic time. At one point in 1942, Selden’s had orders for nearly 30,000 wartime housing shades.
The company hired additional employees and ran its shade assembly operation 16 hours a day, six days a week; producing a shade every 16 seconds. Before long, Selden’s was enrolled to work on government projects at locations around the Northwest including Fort Lewis, McChord Air Force Base, Bremerton Naval Station, Alaska, and the Coulee Dam. During 1944 the company delivered and installed 96 railroad carloads of asphalt tile in government buildings, becoming the West Coast’s largest floor-covering outlet by volume. Selden’s also had a wartime contract with the Navy to apply battleship linoleum to the floors of 77 Liberty ships. Installation had begun on the seventh ship when orders came to remove all the floor coverings; officials had discovered the flooring was combustive under bombing conditions.
As the war ended, the employees of Selden’s found themselves adjusting their inventory to meet the needs of a changing postwar housing era. In 1957 the family made the decision to offer a full-service home furnishings center. It purchased Kegel’s Furniture in downtown Tacoma and moved into that store’s larger building at the corner of 11th and A streets. Meanwhile, Selden’s opened new branches in Longview, Olympia, Lakewood, Moses Lake, Kennewick, Federal Way, and Alaska.
During the 1960s, control over the far-flung branch stores became exceedingly difficult. The Seldens learned that excellent customer service required hands-on ownership supervision. A valuable lesson was learned, leading to today’s philosophy of Selden’s being a one-stop, destination home furnishings center. In 1974 the Kegel’s building was torn down and the decision was made to consolidate all operations into the Lakewood store. Just seven years later, the business outgrew the Lakewood facility. In 1980 Selden’s moved to a larger building at 27th Street West and Bridgeport Way in University Place.
The Selden’s Family of Home Furnishings Today
The opportunity to become the nation’s 15th Thomasville Furniture Gallery arose in 1984. Subsequent growth and the acquisition of key furniture lines necessitated more space and a more accessible location. The decision was made to relocate to a larger building specifically designed to meet the company’s needs. In 1990 Selden’s moved to its current location, adjacent to Interstate 5 in Fife.
In more than sixty years of operation, Selden’s has grown from a staff of 5 when it first opened its doors to more than 100 now, including salespeople, designers, warehouse, and delivery staff. In 1997 the Selden family added a 36,000 Thomasville Home Furnishings showroom and entry atrium that is connected to the main Selden’s showroom. A children’s play area and design work center are included. In the fall of 2000, the business expanded again with the construction of a 65,000-square-foot Bassett Furniture Direct gallery and warehousing/service center facility next door to the main Selden’s Store and Thomasville Gallery.
Home visits from Selden’s Designers have always been part of the above-and-beyond customer service shoppers have grown to expect from Selden’s. Staff designers work with customers, builders, and architects to address space-planning issues and to assist with everything from selecting window coverings, flooring, and cabinets to choosing the perfect furnishings and fabrics to pull it all together. Additionally, Selden’s Designers use high-tech software that allows customers to view countless frame and fabric options.
The Fife-based stores specialize in quality and feature furniture and accessory motifs for every lifestyle and taste from French Country and Casual to Far Eastern and Contemporary. In addition to Thomasville, Selden’s offers many top-quality lines including Stickley, Drexel Heritage, Century, Karastan, Maitland Smith, imported and hand-made Medallion rugs, Henredon, Hooker and Sherrill. Children’s furniture is a year-round specialty and during summer months, Selden’s features a selection of patio and sunroom furniture. We encourage you to stop by and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while browsing our vast combined showroom.