The Glass Porch: Longevity by meeting customer’s needsPublished 7:00am Tuesday, May 13, 2014
The Glass Porch, located at 129 W. Canal St., has seen many transitions throughout the years.
Owners Bill and Evelyn Edwards established the Glass Porch as an antique home furnishing business at 335 W. Canal St. The Edwards expanded their business to include the location at 100 Elizabeth St. as Edward’s Gallery where they framed art as well as sold furniture.
Bill Edwards got his start in antiques and refinishing them by putting some items on consignment in Seal’s Coffee Shop in 1988. He had just retired from NASA was unsure of what he wanted to do with his time.
“He just fell into it,” Evelyn Edwards said. “I was still teaching and I was very supportive. I was glad he had something to do but I didn’t think it would last all of our lives.”
The business has survived by fulfilling customer requests. Meeting each customer’s needs brought transitions into areas such as refinishing, art, framed art and photographs, candles and home furnishings of all types. These extra offerings seemed to flow from their original offering of antique furniture.
“While we were selling antiques, we had to do a lot of refinishing because the customers needed it,” Evelyn Edwards said. “In time we purchased some property to rent and one of the buildings became our refinishing businesses. The same is true for Edward’s Gallery.”
During Katrina, many antiques people owned were destroyed along with their homes and other belongings. The Glass Porch began to stock sofas and more functional furniture, instead of focusing on the antiques, which were then a scarce commodity, Evelyn Edwards said.
Another change was initiated through the boom of information available through the digital age. Customers now have access to YouTube, the Internet and cable television channels where they can obtain instruction on decorating their homes. This has decreased the need for interior decorators sharply, although decorating assistance is available through shop personnel if needed, Evelyn Edwards said.
Throughout the years customers of Glass Porch have displayed an eclectic mix of styles and fabrics, as opposed to purchasing entire matched sets, Evelyn Edwards said. This is also true with dining and bedroom furnishings.
When asked what keeps her excited about her business, Evelyn Edwards said, “I love my customers and the challenge of anticipating their needs when I go to buy inventory.”
The Glass Porch is open from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and can be reached at 601-889-0475.