After 112 years in business, doors closed for the final time at Lee’s Furniture in Montrose on Friday, Aug. 25.
“It’s bittersweet,” said owner Jay Reimel. “Every moment of my working life was in this store.” He entered the family business in 1971.
Jay plans to retire; while brother and co-owner Craig Reimel says he has “no plans to retire.”
“I did a few different things before I came back to the store,” Craig said. He joined the operation in 1985.
The partnership of the brothers worked well, Jay said, with Craig as the “detail guy” in the back office while he concentrated on sales and merchandising.
On Friday, Jay said the impact of the day was hitting him more than the days leading up to the closing. “Our accomplishment here is what we brought to the community,” he said.
For years, the family has been involved in Montrose Borough government, Little League, basketball coaching, and service clubs.
“We’re part of the community,” Jay said, “and have been an anchor business in Montrose and Susquehanna County who gave back to the community.”
The efforts of the Lee and Reimel families
were not unnoticed through the years, and were named Montrose Area Chamber Commerce Citizens of the Year on four occasions. Betty and Frank Reimel in 1994; Bob Lee in 1998; Jay Reimel in 2000; and Craig Reimel in 2015.
The business began in Springville in 1904 as Lee Brothers, started by Charles and Harry Lee. There they sold home furnishings and grocery items. A branch store was opened in Montrose in 1940 at the location on Church Street.
Following World War II, Charles’ son, Robert, and son-in-law Frank Reimel joined the business and changed the name to Lee’s Furniture. They began offering appliances, as well as furniture to the post-war consumers.
Robert Lee and Frank Reimel headed the company from the 1950s to the 1980s, with Jay joining in 1971 as a third generation in the family business. With Craig entering the business in the 1980s, the two became operating partners.
“It will be different,” Craig said, of life after the store closing. “Less pressure. But it’s been fun. I’ve had a good time here.”
Jay said he’s ready for retirement. “People have asked what I’m going to miss. It’s the people who stop in just to shoot the breeze, that part. I’ll miss that.”