Picking out furniture can be a nerve-wracking and frustrating chore. Picking out furniture with children is likely to make it even more so. Luckily for us in the Pacific Northwest, The Old Cannery Furniture and Mattress Warehouse has turned that chore into an experience. Located on Valley Avenue in Sumner, The Old Cannery (or just The Cannery as locals call it) has become a staple within the South Sound community, providing a one-of-a-kind atmosphere that’s fun for all ages.
The story of the Old Cannery begins well before it got its now familiar name and location. In 1953, Tony and Mabeth Grout began making handmade furniture out of their house. “On his days off,” says Adair Pardi, Marketing and Promotions Assistant, “Tony would build furniture from scratch and then he sold it to customers from his home. Unable to keep up with the demand, Tony partnered with a few manufacturers in the Pacific Northwest and developed new products to sell out of his home. The business continued to grow until the house was so full of furniture that it was filling every room and spilling out into the foyer.”
Desperately needing more space, the business was moved to an old brick warehouse called Off Center, as it was located just off Center Street in Tacoma. In 1985, Tony and Mabeth, along with daughter Sherry, found an even larger location in the old Sumner Cannery.
Since then the old building has grown in size to nearly 200,000 square feet, a sales floor so large that a piece of it once crossed over the border into the neighboring city of Puyallup. “People are often surprised the first time they come to our store,” says Pardi. “It’s even bigger on the inside. New guests often comment that our store seems to go on for miles, and our sales persons often walk many miles throughout the store on a busy day.”
Those massive showrooms offer more than just furniture. “We have seven scale miles of G-scale model trains moving throughout the front showrooms,” says Pardi, “and an additional train layout in the kid’s showroom that can provide hours of entertainment. We also have, throughout the entire store, animatronic animals and people that will greet and talk to customers as they make their way from room to room. From Grandma and Grandpa by the front door, to our bison in the Puyallup showroom, to Scratch all the way in the scratch and dent section, our customers have company wherever they go.”
There is also the popular Fudge Bar, a one-stop shop with more than 28 flavors of homemade fudge and a variety of other candies and sweets. “We have customers that come in just for the fudge,” admits Pardi.
If the storeroom itself wasn’t enough of a diversion, The Old Cannery hosts an array of events throughout the year. “We try to celebrate everything,” laughs Pardi. “We want to live up to the name of The Fun Furniture Store. Our biggest events of the year include our Tent Sales for Memorial Day, July 4, and Labor Day each and every summer.”
Pardi compares these sale events more to carnivals. It is perhaps no surprise they are popular with the locals. They estimate serving 30,000 hot dogs for their warm weather events.
Christmas is another special Old Cannery tradition where the halls are decked and Santa visits every weekend between Black Friday and the big day. “We also provide special days and times for families with special needs children to come and see Santa in a ‘low sensory’ environment. For some, this is the only way their children can ever get the experience of sitting on Santa’s lap, and it’s a true honor to make these moments happen for our customers and friends.” There has also been a tradition where the Old Cannery decorated the Stuck River Bridge with 10,000 lights, complete with a fireworks show during the lighting ceremony. However, with the bridge’s retirement in 2016, the party was moved indoors. “We still had a great time,” says Pardi. “Once the new bridge is finished, we plan to bring the bridge lighting event back, even bigger and better than before in the Old Cannery style.”
Of course, if it’s just furniture you’re after, they’ve got that too. “If you’re looking for something in particular,” says Pardi, “our sales staff will be more than happy to help you find that perfect piece. And because of our warehouse capacity, customers are often able to buy and take home same day.” But if you’re looking for new ideas or refreshing change in style for just about any room in your home, don’t hesitate to take the whole family. It’s what The Old Cannery is all about. Perhaps it’s no surprise that their slogan is “Come for the furniture, stay for the fun of it.”