About Abbey Flooring Headquarters
In the early 1930's Ben and Eva Winter took a risk and invested in a Derby Gas Station, along with a soda fountain - which they named, Howdy Come In, on Highway 50, west of Emporia, Kansas. They also purchased four milk cows and named them Silk, Faith, Perseverance, and Hope. As the cows produced more milk than expected they began making a family specialty - homemade frozen custard. It soon became the featured item at the Howdy Come In. Eva would delight customers with her joyous attitude and by adding "a little extra on top" to every serving of frozen custard. The Winter's homemade frozen custard became so popular, they soon delivered it throughout the streets of Emporia, first by horse drawn wagon, then by motorized wagon.
One day a hitchhiker stopped in the Howdy with two suitcases, one for his clothing and the second for his cabinet making tools. Ben and Eva hired him to use some walnut lumber in one of the barns to make a chifferobe for the soon to be born baby boy, "Bobby" (second generation owner, Bob Winter). Ben and Eva were so impressed with the craftsmanship of the chifferobe, Ben was inspired to acquire furniture from local farm auctions and have the cabinetmaker recondition it. Soon the dairy barn became home to new and reconditioned furniture, and the beginning of the Winter Furniture Store.
After several years, Ben and Eva desired to grow the business they had grown to love and moved the store from the dairy barn to downtown Emporia. A generation later, in 1967, Bob Winter and wife Joyce, joined the family business. They moved from Denver, Colorado where Bob got his start as a buyer for Davis and Shaw Furniture. Bob worked along with his brother Richard and father Ben for nearly 30 years at Winter Furniture in Emporia.
When Bob and Joyce were nearly 65 they began planning the opening of a new store in Topeka - when most people their age were ready for retirement, they experienced a burning desire to open a new furniture store. As they were brainstorming the business model with the family, their oldest son Jeff, became particularly interested in the concept. He thrilled his parents when he and his wife June decided to join them in opening Discovery Furniture by Winter, in Topeka, in 2000.
Jeff and June moved their family from Iowa to join the family business. Jeff, a graduate from Kansas State University in mechanical engineering, had worked at Maytag for 16 years and enjoyed the engineering, manufacturing, and management roles greatly, but the opportunity to work in the family business was one he felt called to do. In 2003, they desired to grow the family business, and opened RoomMakers in Topeka and an Ashley Furniture HomeStore the following year (2004) in Salina, Kansas.
In 2009, Bob and Joyce's youngest son, Jamie and wife Jeanne moved from Michigan to join the family business. Jamie was an Executive with Continental where he utilized his degrees in electrical engineering from Kansas State University and an MBA from Texas A&M University. He gained great experience and enjoyed various roles in auto electronics manufacturing, including moving his family to China to start a plant from scratch. However, after 16 years in manufacturing, he felt the call to come join family business.
In 2010, a second location of Discovery Furniture and RoomMakers, along with a new Mattress Headquarters was opened in Lawrence, Kansas. This was the beginning of the mall concept to bring multiple stores under one roof, to provide the convenience of big selection with the small local store feel.
As the Winters were planning to bring the mall concept to Topeka in 2011-2012, Marling's Furniture, one of the long standing (75 years) furniture stores in Topeka, was looking to sell their building and close. Marling's had an excellent reputation and specialized in the good to higher end market, therefore, adding it to the mall concept was an opportunity to keep their name alive as well as extend our offerings in higher end goods. Therefore, the mall concept grew to include three furniture brands covering three distinct price ranges from good to better and best.
In 2013, the Furniture Mall of Kansas opened in Topeka. It included three furniture stores: Discovery Furniture, RoomMakers, and Marling's, a mattress store - Mattress Headquarters, and a flooring store - Flooring Headquarters. Third generation owner, Jeff Winter, says, "we believe our guests want big selections, but not the big box feel, so by dividing a big space into three furniture stores, a mattress store and a flooring store, we'd make it easier for our guests to shop and keep some of the small store feel they have come to appreciate. The addition of Flooring Headquarters was to further help our guests to find more of what they need, to have an exceptionally beautiful and comfortable home, all in one convenient location."
In 2015, the Winters opened a second and bigger Furniture Mall of Kansas in Olathe.
Through all the years and changes many things about the family business that started with hope, faith, and a lot of perseverance remain timeless.