PARMA, Ohio – When the owner of West Clark Furniture and Appliance sold his 31-year-old business to Stanley Basista in 1951, he told Basista that he’d never succeed in the business. Basista, who was already working full-time in the steel mills, bought the Clark Avenue business but soon moved it to a bigger space next to the popular Aragon Ballroom on W. 25th Street.
Business was good, but Basista saw an opportunity to buy the old Shadyside Dairy on State Road in the burgeoning suburb of Parma and move his furniture store there. He soon realized that the name West Clark Furniture was not right for a store in Parma, so he put his own name on it. Basista Furniture was born. That was in 1957.
For the next 60 years, Basista Furniture became a store that generations of loyal customers came back to over and over again.
Stanley Basista died in 1977, and his 26-year-old son, Stanley, took over the reins with his brother, Tom, and sister, Patricia. The business expanded its showroom, and in 2003, Stanley started selling furniture on the Internet – way ahead of the e-commerce boom.
Now 66, Stanley is ready to retire, and on Aug. 30, drivers passing the store were startled to see “Store Closing Forever” signs. The next morning, 120 people waited in line to get the early bird bargains, and Stanley went down the line thanking each and every one of them. At the end of the line, he cried tears of pride and satisfaction with a family business that, in his opinion, had finally run its course.
“Business has been fantastic,” Stanley said. “I just think it’s time. My brother and I have all daughters, and they live out of town. Even if they were interested in continuing the business, my wife said I’d probably be poking my nose in the store all the time.”
Stanley said he doesn’t want to sell the name, even though he could get a lot of money for it. The neon sign that stands tall above the store remains a landmark. “Parma people tell me that their kids will always know that they’re close to home when they spot that sign,” Stanley said.
They have a potential buyer for the building, which stretches across the east side of State Road from Tuxedo to North Avenues.
On the first day of the sale, cars were parked all the way down Tuxedo. Ward 4 Councilwoman Kristin Saban is sad to see the Basista family leave her ward.
“I remember as a child going into Basista with my grandmother,” Saban said, “and also with my parents who also always shopped at Basista. When Bruce and I got married 20 years ago and had purchased our first home, our very first living room set was a hand-me-down from my parents that came from Basista.
“From then on, my home has become a Basista gallery – from our bedrooms to our living room, dining room, kitchen all the way down to our finished basement. As a matter of fact, I just ordered a chair [from Basista] for my living room that was delivered a few weeks ago.
“Stan and Tom Basista are truly great people,” Saban said, “and I wish them nothing but the best!”
Mayor Tim DeGeeter and his family live on Tuxedo and have developed a close relationship with the Basista family.
“It is with heavy hearts to see the Basista family retiring from the furniture business,” DeGeeter said. “They have been a major part of our city where generations of families have been loyal customers – from not just Parma but all of Northeast Ohio. They have been recipients of the Mayor’s ‘Business of the Month’ award. I wish Stan and Tom all the joys that come with retirement.
“As far as what is next for the Basista Furniture store location, just stay tuned,” DeGeeter said.
Stanley said that they have a warehouse full of furniture to sell, so the sale will go on through Black Friday.
Any new owner of the building and furniture business won’t be able to use the Basista name, Stanley said. “Our name and what it symbolizes is sacred to us,” he said.