COATESVILLE — The oldest retail business in the city is closing, just as renovation plans are being born.
Chertok’s Furniture and Mattress, a fourth-generation family-owned business, first opened in downtown Coatesville on East Lincoln Highway in 1902.
Larry Chertok, 65, said he is retiring.
A sunny life awaits him in Florida alongside his wife, Terian Chertok, who is a retired teacher.
At 156 East Lincoln Highway, across from North 2nd Avenue, and painted bright red, the brick-and-mortar furniture store is inside a multi-level building that spans 30,000 square feet. Chertok said the property is under contract with a buyer.
The greatest experience in this business for Chertok, he said, has been felt over generations: “the people.”
Larry Chertok points to legacy photos at the family business, founded in 1902, in Coatesville on Thursday. (JEN SAMUEL – DAILY LOCAL NEWS)
After taking over the family-oriented business from his father in the mid-1980s, he’s had thousands of customers over the last four decades.
“It’s all about the people. Your relationship with people — nice people,” Chertok said.
Adding, he said, the experience working at Chertok’s Furniture and Mattress has been about “great people and customers and employees and a lot of fun happening.”
Chertok said the store merchandise is on sale. Discounts now range between 60% to 90% off normal price points.
During the ongoing “everything must go” sale at Chertok’s Furniture & Mattress, folks can shop for chairs, recliners, beds, sofas, sectionals, and home accents, plus office desks and artwork.
He expects the store remaining open through February.
At one point, he had 20 people working for him at the store, back when Chertok’s Furniture also sold appliances.
“Like many community members, my first apartment was furnished by Chertok’s,” said Linda Lavender-Norris, Coatesville City Council President.
“Anyone who resides in the city has most likely had the pleasure of visiting this family company that has been such an important part of our business community for generations,” Lavender-Norris said.
“Through the decades, the Chertok family has led by example, providing years of service to our community, and now serves as a stellar model to the new entrepreneurs rising up in our community,” the council president said.
“I extend appreciation and wish the Chertok family and dedicated staff members continued happiness and success,” Lavender-Norris said.
Scores of locals have worked at Chertok’s Furniture throughout the last 12 decades.
“I worked for Chertok’s when I was in high school. Larry was in college, and his father and grandfather were there. I recall that the entire family was community driven,” said Coatesville City Council Member Ed Simpson.
“Bill Chertok was a member of City Council for many years,” the councilman said. “He and his wife (Joanne) were very involved in the city.”
From left, Pete Gilbert, Betty Pitcherella and Larry Chertok celebrate being part of Coatesville’s oldest retail business at 156 East Lincoln Highway on Thursday. (JEN SAMUEL – DAILY LOCAL NEWS)
As for the City of Coatesville, Chertok said there are good things happening from the revitalized Amtrak station to the construction of a new sports center, as well as a new restaurant nearby the store and a record business, too, at the old newspaper building.
“I’ve been fortunate to know a lot of generations during my time here,” Chertok said.
Clara Kauffman, his grandmother, was part of a family furniture enterprise in West Chester, which closed in the 1980s.
“Two furniture families connected and they married,” he said. She married Sam in the 1920s.
Larry Chertok’s great-grandfather, Meyer Chertok, founded the business in 1902. The family had fled religious percussion in Russia at the turn of the century — just like in the film Fiddler on the Roof.
“That was for religious independence,” he said, “in the 1880s.”
The family arrived at Ellis Island and moved from Brooklyn to Wilmington and then to Landenberg. From there, they moved to Coatesville.
“They decide to open their own business,” he said, “rather than be peddlers.”
“Unfortunately some of my family died in the Holocaust,” he said.
Then his grandfather, Sam Chertok, took the reins, followed by his father, Bill Chertok.
“121 years of Chertok family-ownership is closing down,” he said.
A principle of the business has been “see, touch, and feel” which online shopping cannot replace.
“People want comfort,” Chertok said.
The Chertok family. (COURTESY PHOTO)