Monroe business set to begin 50th-year celebration today after roller coaster year

MONROE — Shannon Bannerman, chief executive officer of Riley’s Furniture and Mattress, has helped the company through a roller coaster year-plus to reach a significant milestone for any area business..

Her father, Riley Griffiths, 75, died in July 2019 from pancreatic cancer, then eight months later — “about the time we got our feet under us,” his daughter said — the coronavirus pandemic hit and Riley’s closed following a state mandate from Gov. Mike DeWine.

On Saturday, Riley’s will begin its year-long celebration of its 50th year in business when Monroe Mayor Jason Krentzel reads a proclamation.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” Bannerman said. “Quite a year to dive in.”

The furniture store was closed from March 23 to May 12, and has added Wednesdays and its traditional Sundays as closed days. The store also closes at 7 p.m., one hour earlier than before COVID-19.

Bannerman said these schedule changes allow all employees to be with their families the same two days a week and means the “best of the best” employees are working when the store is open.

She said 12 employees have been at Riley’s for more than 10 years, including ones with 47, 45 and 25 years experience.

“We are one big family," she said.

Griffiths opened Furniture Depot of Middletown on June 1, 1970, then opened the location in Monroe. His wife, CJ Griffiths, owns the business at 126 Breaden Drive, and Bannerman runs the operation.

For the last 10 years, Bannerman, the oldest of three daughters, worked under her father and she’s using some of his lessons to survive COVID-19.

“I thank God that my father always looked outside the box,” said Bannerman, 50. “I was raised that way. He taught us to be flexible. When I think of COVID, I say, ‘This is a new experience and we need to look at it as an opportunity.’”

Bannerman said the coronavirus continues to impact the furniture business. Since factories can’t find enough employees and some are operating at half capacity, there is a shortage of furniture that eventually will create price increases.

Also, she said, some of the same material used to build furniture is used to make PPE supplies.

“We can’t get product,” said Bannerman, adding what used to take 30 days to get shipped now takes 16 to 18 weeks.

Her father’s mission was always to “make the community better and to serve his employees and customers," Bannerman said. “My dad will always be here. His arms are around this business.”

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