In 1985 Merle Wenger started his furniture business, the House of Oak & Sofas, as an offshoot of another family business. Merle’s interest in design grew out of his love of color since childhood. According to an aunt who, when she visited the Wenger homestead when Merle was two years old, saw him crouched in the straw of the strawberry patch. When asked what he was doing, Merle explained that he was waiting for the green berry to turn red. This story reveals both the scientist and artist that Merle would become. In college he studied biology, including Marine Biology, theater and dance.
In the first years of the furniture business, Merle spent many long evenings in the Amish country of Holmes County, Ohio, researching who was making the best Amish-crafted furniture. Merle has always been concerned that customers at House of Oak & Sofas understand what they are buying and what it means to buy furniture that lasts a long time. Merle has also drawn on his semester of college in Nicaragua and his travels to Europe to intuit the relationship that people have with furniture versus furniture that is just a commodity.
For the past twenty years Merle has gone on two to four buying trips a year to keep up to date with fashion and color trends. Most recently, Merle has focused his energies on building the window treatment department of the store. Window treatment services have become the fastest-growing part of the House of Oak & Sofas store.
As the middle child of eleven brothers and sisters, Merle understands human relations. Knowing that relaxed customers will make the best purchasing decisions, Merle and the sales associates at House of Oak & Sofas are not paid on a commissioned basis. Coming from a large family has also taught Merle about building and supporting a long-term staff of sales associates who in turn have long term relationships with customers.
After twenty years of helping customers “turn their houses into homes,” Merle states “I have done my best and most exciting work in the past two years.”