Wiens Furniture Unveils New Appliance Showroom

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Ruby, Dylan, and Al Wiens at the sneak preview of the new appliance showroom Brenda Sawatzky

The name Wiens Furniture has been on the tongues of Manitobans for generations. Four generations, to be exact. On June 20, the Wiens family invited special guests for a sneak preview of the new 5,000-square-foot addition which has been a year and a half in the making. 

“It’s an expanded, state-of-the-art appliance area,” says Al Wiens. “Our business in the premium brands has been growing and we didn’t have room in the existing appliance area to showcase [them].”

The family has been working hard to design and create a unique appliance showroom, turning displays into full-on, home-inspired experiences. The large showroom is sectioned off, giving customers the feel of meandering through a beautifully designed home. Appliances are built into cabinets and countertops, offering a living concept of what your kitchen or laundry could look like. 

“A unique feature we have is that 80 percent of our appliances are in some way powered-up,” adds Wiens. “What this means is that our clients can visualize not just how they would look in the home but also experience how they would function. It was important that we design a space that was welcoming and inspiring.”

The new showroom features brands such as Bosch, KitchenAid, and Whirlpool, among others. Live steam ovens, gas cooktops, and speed ovens will be used for demonstrations. Eventually the family hopes to offer cooking presentations to showcase the capabilities of these high-end appliances. 

The Wiens Furniture legacy began almost 80 years ago. Al’s grandfather, J.S. Wiens, was the first to open a hardware and appliance store in Niverville called the Red & White Store, located where the pharmacy is today. Son Jake succeeded his father in the business in 1963. Jake was the epitome of entrepreneurship, known for peddling appliances from his half-ton truck. He built a strong customer base by connecting with the southeast’s farming community while at the same time reaching out to city folk with a listing in the Winnipeg phone book. His philosophy was that if he could get them to call, he could convince them to make the drive to rural Manitoba. 

Jake Wiens had a remarkable style of marketing that was ahead of his time. Many of the slogans he coined—“Twenty money-saving minutes from Winnipeg”—are still fondly remembered by older-generation Manitobans today. During those years, Wiens relocated and renamed the business Wiens Furniture Village, strategizing his retail focus on furniture and appliances.

Keeping the vast Mennonite influence of the area ever in mind, Wiens was known for his low-German CFAM radio ads, and soon much of the southeast began to refer to the company as Wiens Meebel Darp, the low-German equivalent of the company name. Mennonites from across Manitoba and even into Ontario flocked to Niverville, driven by catchy slogans such as “Vo de pries fa yunt es enyaschtalt” (Where the price is in your favour).

His wife Rita brought a feminine touch to the store by including sewing machine and drapery sales. When microwaves came into vogue, she offered microwave cooking classes. 

In 1989, the family business burned to the ground. Wiens wasted no time in rebuilding and, two years later, sold his hard-earned investment to sons Al and Paul. Today, Al Wiens carries on his father’s legacy along with his wife and two sons. The ongoing family succession plan will eventually see Dylan Wiens take the lead. The fourth generation Wiens has been active in the business for the past ten years and has completed his business degree.

“I am very grateful for the chance to bring our family business into the fourth generation,” say Dylan. “There is always going to be pressure associated with succession, but I am looking forward to the challenge and growing the business into the future.”

Apart from the recent introduction of the new appliance showroom, Dylan says he hopes to build on a stronger online presence as well as complete the store’s contemporary appeal with a total redesign of the original showroom area.

“We grew the business through hard work and personalized customer service, making special effort to get the customers what they needed,” says Al Wiens. “Everyday we try to ask ourselves what we can do to make our business better. Being a small business, we’re able to provide the personal touch that big box stores cannot. Even back in the day, we had some formidable big box competitors, but our own small business still continued to grow.”

Though they continue to advertise to the local and Winnipeg market, Wiens says much of their success can be attributed to the word-of-mouth testimonies gleaned from 80 years of satisfied clients. 

“This relationship we’ve built with our customers means if they’re looking for something we don’t carry, they’ll give us the opportunity to acquire it for them, at the end of the day saving them money,” says Al.

He adds that Niverville’s growing community has been incredibly supportive, and he feels that the relationship with the community is symbiotic. 

“A store our size in a community the size of Niverville is somewhat of an anomaly,” he concludes. “We’ve definitely capitalized on the destination aspect. We know that if people make the effort to drive out to our store, they’re not just looking. Our clients from out of town really enjoy coming out to Niverville and, while here, will often visit Wm. Dyck & Sons and enjoy lunch at our restaurants here in town. People love the more relaxed aspect of the small-town shopping experience.”

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