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Family-owned Expressions Futons and Furniture celebrates 25 years

Tualatin's long-time family owned and operated furniture store is still going strong after over two decades


Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - 2-year-old Miriam Gouz helps her grandfather, Larry Gouz, as he opens the till at Expressions Futons and Furniture. Larry Gouz opened the store 25 years ago after moving from New York to Oregon, and in that time has worked alonside his wife and two children.When Larry and Susie Gouz bought the “little yellow house” on the edge of Tualatin just over 25 years ago, it wasn’t yellow. Newspapers from 1936 with articles about Jesse Owens’ Olympic victory served as insulation in the walls. Bats lived in the basement. A purple bathtub was the second floor’s best accessory.

“I came from New York, worked in a family business,” said Larry Gouz. “Then we moved to Oregon with a certain amount of money, and I didn’t really want to buy a business. So, we invested it into property. I didn’t even care at that point, I just wanted to open up a business.”

After fixing up the condemned property and making it suitable for visitors, the Gouzes opened up a craft store, which lasted for two years before transforming it into Expressions Futons and Furniture.

“We realized we weren’t going to be able to make a living on pompoms and wiggly eyes,” said Susie Gouz.

For years, Larry Gouz worked full-time at Safeway while simultaneously running the business. He worked graveyard, so he kept a blowup mattress (before the furniture days) in the store that he’d sleep on for a couple hours before opening shop. He’d work at the store until about 6 p.m., when he’d go home for dinner, sleep a couple more hours, and then head to Safeway for work. And then, he’d do it all over again — for 10 years.

Susie Gouz worked for a veterinarian and in childcare, doing what she had to do to help her husband keep the family financially afloat.

Today, things are easier. The couple’s children, Jessica Gatke and Steven Gouz, returned to the business years ago after going away for college and pursuing their own careers for a time. Eventually, varying circumstances led them back to the furniture store they grew up playing in and to ultimately help keep it successful and profitable.

“It’s nice to look forward to going to work everyday, you know? Because you get to see your family! And you have that closeness, and then the customers feel it,” said Gatke. “It’s funny because you go out into the world and you make your own careers — maybe I’ll be here for another 10 years, maybe another 10 months. I don’t know. But I love it now, I’ve loved it in the past, and I know my brother loves working here, too — for the same reasons, I think.”

“We never said, ‘You have to be here,’” Susie Gouz added. “(We said), ‘It’s here if you want it.’”

After 25 years in business, there have been plenty of changes. Multiple additions have expanded the “little yellow house” on nearly all of its sides, and the children’s furniture had to move to the annex building because it outgrew the main store. Gatke pushed her parents to see how important an online presence was and set up the company’s first website in 2007 (admittedly late in the game).

A vast catalogue system also supplements their small showroom. But even with the changes, Gatke and her mother agree that the store has remained as comfortable, welcoming and helpful as always.

With two generations already working in the store, the family is helping prepare the third generation, too. Gatke’s 2-year-old daughter Miriam trots around the store, playing with toys and occasionally helping her grandfather sort out the cash registers. She’s even ready to open the door when customers leave.

“How’s that for customer service?” asked Susie Gouz.

Well, there’s definitely worse service in the world.



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