When Renaissance Fine Furnishings opened 15 months ago, the owners say, they knew they had the knowledge and experience for such a venture.
Linda Leitza (from left), Chris Leitza and Rick Seigler, the owners of Renaissance Fine Furnishings, stand in one of the store displays. The owners opened the store 15 months ago on Washington Road.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Chris and Linda Leitza and Rick Seigler had long been antique collectors and dealers. For 10 years, the couple and family friend hunted the best of the old collections and brought them to Augusta where they displayed them for sale at the Antique Market. It was on one of those antique-buying trips that the three decided they should open their own furniture store.
"We noticed in all of the area furniture stores that it was a mishmash of furniture, and our concept here was to do gallery levels of furniture," said Mr. Leitza, a real estate broker with Blanchard & Calhoun who maintains a full-time job as a Realtor.
"We knew we wanted to be a major furniture store in Columbia County, but close enough to west Augusta and off of I-20 to serve the entire CSRA."
Renaissance Fine Furnishings broke into the market as Columbia County's only independently owned furniture store in November 2003 when the 34,000-square-foot business opened in the West Town Market Square off Washington Road. Renaissance Fine Furnishings now occupies the old Food Lion storefront.
"We have been able to attract the higher-end crowd easily because of our name," Mr. Leitza said. "But we have furniture for people from their first home to their dream home.''
The store's customer base has been drawn from friends and acquaintances the three knew when they sold antiques, a hobby they say they still enjoy. But they've also secured a number of clients after their design work was displayed in the Builder Association of Metro Augusta's Showcase of Homes and Parade of Homes. The store's design team has garnered at least five awards in recent years, including the People's Choice Award for the past four years.
"They like our look and they've come and asked us to do that look in their entire home," Seigler said. "We've made it affordable for design work. We give free design work if the customer purchases their furniture here.''
The group also can go into a home and incorporate existing furniture and accessories into a new design concept.
One of the things the owners pride themselves on is being able to offer one-stop shopping. The store offers custom-made drapes and floral treatments, design service and myriad furniture selections from such well-known names as Christopher Lowell, Drexel-Heritage, Kindel, Stanley, Flexsteel and many others.
"We are aiming to be the cutting edge of the market," Mrs. Leitza said. "We'd like to be the premier design center in the area. We're building customer relations for life. We want the client walking in here at 19 to still be coming here at 80."
The owners of the 3830 Washington Road business do a lot of research before making purchases. They visit showrooms in larger cities, go to furniture shows and determine what is best for the Augusta area market.
"We've learned that Augusta is a very traditional town and we keep that in mind, but we also have brought in the mirrored, high-gloss, contemporary look," Seigler said.
"We carry very unique things and we usually target things that are very unusual," added Mrs. Leitza.
The Leitzas built their most recent home in 2000 and incorporated many of the newest style elements emerging in today's market in their new home. Chest-style sinks, ornately carved fireplace mantels and stained glass windows grace the showroom of Renaissance and the Leitza's home.
"We carry real Belgium tapestries, but we also carry the American machine-made tapestries," Mr. Leitza said.
And for more than a year, it's been a business the Leitzas say they've thoroughly enjoyed.
"The satisfaction of seeing lots of families bring their home together has really been rewarding for us," Mrs. Leitza said. "It's a great personal satisfaction to us."
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