Danto's Furniture & Appliance
Featured West Vernor BID Business: Danto's Furniture & Appliance
Furniture, appliances, computers and jewelry - "a department store without the clothing," that's how Irwin Danto, manager of Danto's Furniture & Appliances, describes his family's business located at the intersection of West Vernor and Central. For three generations the Danto family has been providing the residents of Southwest Detroit with a wide array of home essentials for all budgets.
Walk into Danto's Furniture & Appliances and you'll first be struck by the amount of assorted products offered on the showroom floor - from ornate candelabras to reclining sofa chairs, mattresses to cell phones - it's a one-stop-shop. With little budgeted for advertising, Danto's attracts most of their business by word-of-mouth boasting over 72,000 customers. However, its not simply the products sold at Danto's that has contributed to their long term success.
The store operates with the warmth and personal attention much like a mom and pop shop of old. Danto's has adapted well to the needs of a growing immigrant community. Southwest Detroit is home to a growing number of Middle Easterners and a significant Latino community. Often people relocating from other parts of the world find it difficult to establish credit and face language barriers.
Danto's provides key services to help people overcome these barriers such as in-house credit and bi-lingual customer service. The store offers credit to people that do not meet traditional bank requirements; although they may work, they may not have an established credit history. Danto's enables people to purchase home essentials and offers rates lower than a rent-to-own alternative. In addition, Danto's employs approximately 25 employees, several of whom are local residents that speak Spanish or Arabic and communicate casually with customers. Rita Cazares, Payment Center Manager, says these services foster loyal customers. She knows people who have furnished their whole house from Danto's and others who return even if they have moved out of the area because they feel comfortable shopping at Danto's.
In 1920 Julius Danto, along with his three brothers, immigrated to the U.S. from a small town along the Russia-Poland border. The business-minded brothers moved to the country's hot bed of growth at the time, Detroit, Michigan. Collectively the Danto brothers tried their hand at various businesses: a hat shop, a clothing store and a drug store. But it was Julious Danto who found his niche and by 1940 had created a reputable furniture store in Southwest Detroit.
Julius's oldest son, Charles Danto, took over as store manager in the mid 1960's. Under Charles the business endured Detroit's challenging economic conditions and stood strong until 1992. That year, a fire burned the store to the ground. However, in the Danto father-son tradition, Irwin Danto joined his father, Charles, and together they relocated down the street, in the old Central Outfitting building, the store's current location.
Irwin Danto now heads the store's daily operations and is involved in the local community. He currently heads the West Vernor Voluntary Business Improvement District (BID) and serves on the Southwest Detroit Business Association's Board of Directors. And he says he's not planning on going anywhere anytime soon.
There's definitely something special about Southwest Detroit. Businesses don't give up nor do the residents. Irwin Danto says, "Southwest Detroit works." He believes the neighborhood is repairing itself through the hard work of its residents. And it's not difficult to believe that the "something special" are the residents themselves.
Danto's Furniture & Appliance is located at 7701 West Vernor Highway; phone: 313-841-1200.