What was surprisingly hard about starting Kibler & Kirch?
R: We felt like we had a tiger by the tail from day one.
E: We learned everything the hard way. It would have been nice to have more business knowledge. We learned a lot along the way, but it would have been nice to know all of those things upfront. We were coming from our heart, our dreams and our passion. The business side we had to learn real quick.
R: We didn’t start out, particularly, as business women. The hardest part of starting a business: Being under capitalized, never having enough money. We were growing really fast and didn’t have the money to keep up. We grew faster than we could afford to.
What is like to run a business as such good friends?
R: A partnership is like a marriage and anyone who thinks it’s not is crazy. We all were friends when we became partners. Being partners can really test a friendship; you have to communicate. I honestly would say we worked harder at our partnerships than we did our marriages.
Did you think Kibler & Kirch would still be here today, when you opened the doors 25 years ago?
E: We didn’t know we were going to live this long [laughs]. We wanted Kibler & Kirch to move on without us. We didn’t know how that was going to happen, we knew our children didn’t want to work there for the rest of their lives.
R: Which is why Jeremiah coming in at the perfect time is just such an amazing story.
E: When that happened, we went to market with Jeremiah and the economy was so low, furniture stores were closing; no one was buying furniture that market. And there we were. The old furniture guys thought we were crazy. We told them we had sold the business and they were like, “And you didn’t go buy a lottery ticket that same day?!” But we had already won!
R: It still takes my breath away how that all worked out. We were retiring, in the stores final days and in walks Jeremiah. Right after he found out the news, he ran into his father-in-law on the street and said, “Kibler & Kirch is going to close and we can’t let that happen.” It’s pretty much a miracle. What a blessing it was to be able to keep it going.
25 Years is a long time to be tastemakers. How did you buy the right things for the store?
R: We tried to buy things that were timeless, had soul, had a story or that just felt more hand-made—done with more thought than something that just came off a conveyer belt. Which is why Jeremiah is such a good fit. We were always looking for something no one else had, trying to figure out what the next big thing was. We sought out start ups, and temporary vendors at market. A lot of our vendors that we use today started when we did. We believed in them, saw what they were doing, encouraged them and grew with them, supported them.
If there is a Kibler & Kirch look, what is it?
E: Everyone has always asked that … I don’t know.
R: In terms of design we design for the client. I don’t want people to walk in and know that we did it. In terms of buying for retailing, it’s about timeless pieces, a bit more masculine, things that look collected, that you’ve traveled the world and are interested in all kinds of things, that you are well-rounded. We would throw in a Chinese piece or something from India, give off a collector vibe. Things that are hand-made by real people.
E: When you see the hand work that goes into furniture it is unbelievable. If people saw what it takes to make a quality piece of furniture they would not have qualms paying good money for it. It’s a bargain really.
R: We were told over and over again, “This store could be anywhere in the world.” Such a compliment.