Office furniture resale company opens Danbury store and capitalizes on pandemic ‘work from home’

DANBURY — After many workers were abruptly told they would be working from home indefinitely two years ago, Russell Castro’s phone started ringing.

Instead of large corporations calling to buy high-end office furniture from his office liquidation and resale business, he was getting inquiries from individuals looking for an affordable way to furnish their new home offices, often improvised.

Demand changed so much that he began looking to smaller retail stores to meet the needs of individual customers, rather than the typical huge office buildings. Based in North Brunswick, NJ, OFIS Furniture, LLC began hosting pop-up outlets in Long Island, Pennsylvania, and New York, and opened a permanent outlet in Florida. And on the first cold weekend in March, Russell Castro opened a second outlet in Danbury with the help of his brother, Rick Castro, who now runs the store.

“They realize they’re going to be working from home much longer now or permanently, and they want to ‘upgrade’ their office furniture for their home,” explained Russell Castro, president of OFIS Furniture, LLC. “It was actually millions of employees working from home across the tri-state area, so our market pool was much larger now. But we only made one chair at a time.

Rick Castro lives in New Fairfield and runs various small businesses in the area. He knew the retail landscape and thought Danbury would be a prime location for a retail office.

“It works really well between us from both of our backgrounds, my presence in the outside retail world to manage these types of locations and his knowledge of furniture and the needs he sees there” , said Rick Castro. “I think we’re a great team in that respect.”

Trucks make the two-hour trip from New Jersey to Danbury once a week, transporting items purchased from the town’s newest furniture store.

“We shoot from Hartford, we shoot from Stamford, Norwalk. People from all over Connecticut,” Rick Castro said of the location and its clientele.

Indeed, the store, located in Plumtrees Plaza, attracts customers from all over Fairfield and Litchfield counties.

Rick Castro frequently asks people who stop where they’re from because he always gets different answers. So far he has met clients from Westport, Darien, Hartford, East Hartford and Simsbury.

Russell Castro said most people who walk into the retail store or contact OFIS have “done their homework” and know what they are looking for. That’s part of the reason people are willing to drive so far.

He’s had many requests for “soft seating” — a new term Rick learned that refers to waiting room furniture — for new office spaces and their own homes.

“They’ll drive an hour when your chair is $350 in the store,” Russell Castro said.

People come in happy and leave happy, said Rick Castro.

Find a niche

OFIS meets a very specific need in a post-pandemic world: self-sourced and economical office furniture.

“The problem with that is they’re offended by the stickers,” Russell Castro said of employees trying to furnish a proper home office.

Someone may want the same chair they used at their desk, only to find out that it costs thousands of dollars. That’s where OFIS comes in. They can get that $1,200 chair for $350, Castro said.

OFIS has also capitalized on global supply chain challenges as people return to work and reinvent office spaces. Two years into the pandemic, some companies have downsized or created satellite offices. Some have ditched private office layouts for open conference rooms. And because OFIS sources furniture from offices in liquidation, customers don’t have to wait weeks to get their hands on the furniture.

The company name literally serves as an acronym for what it promises: “Office Furniture In Stock”.

“Furniture is going to wait six months, eight months, 10 months, and that has been a big problem for a lot of people who furnish offices. That’s why they’re also flocking to us, because we’re our own supply chain – I clean all these buildings, I have all the furniture in stock,” Russell Castro said. “We’re also able to fill that void, so people can get into their offices, furnish them quickly.”

OFIS has thousands of chairs, booths, conference room furniture and reception furniture ready to find a new home. Right now they’re cleaning the 49 floors of the Deutsche Bank offices in Manhattan.

You can only imagine how many thousands and thousands of chairs, private desks and cubicles that is, said Russell Castro.

As he dreams of one day expanding OFIS to become a household name with franchises in the tri-state area and beyond, Russell Castro is focused on getting the Danbury site up and running. with his brother.

“We are filling a need,” he explained, “to help people get out of their dining chairs, out of their backs at 18, and into the right pieces of furniture, and [it’s] really affordable.

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