Chairs to 103 years (and counting) for Cohen’s Home Furnishings

Posted on March 11, 2022 | By Alexander Chafe | 0 Comments

It’s hard to think of Cohen’s without picturing the furniture and other home furnishings found in-store today. But some may still remember its early days of selling clothing, toys and other general items. What started as a single, family-owned store over a century ago in Newfoundland has expanded across the island.


Photos of Cohen’s first store, S. Cohen and Sons, which was attached to the family home (photo credit: Cohen’s Home Furnishings & CBC).


Opening shop

Simon Cohen was the founding father of the family business. Originally from Europe, Simon moved to Newfoundland in 1904. After returning from working in the U.S., he and his oldest son Charles opened S. Cohen and Sons in 1919 in Grand Falls-Windsor. The general store offered a variety of goods, from fresh threads to home hardware. Thanks to Cohen’s quality products at a reasonable price, business grew.

Many of Simon’s seven sons worked at the family business over the years. When Simon eventually retired, he left the store in their hands. After his brothers moved onto other business endeavours, Michael Cohen became General Manager and began plans to expand the store. His persistence paid off in 1946. It was Michael’s son Boyd who added furniture to Cohen’s product line.


A bus to Cohen’s store (photo credit: Cohen’s Home Furnishings).


Finding a niche

After a year of studies at Mount Allison University, Boyd Cohen returned home to help with the family business in 1948. With the end of WWII and Newfoundland joining Confederation, many local war veterans had living allowances to furnish their homes, but no place to spend it locally. So, Boyd decided to provide a needed service to the community and brought furniture to the family store.

By 1953, the store expanded to include an entire furniture department. Boyd imported housewares via railcars in bulk, which helped with the bottom line and profitability. This allowed the family to open a second store, just for furniture. The first Cohen’s Home Furnishings opened in 1956, under Boyd Cohen’s operation.


A Cohen’s ad from 1959 (photo credit: Cohen’s Home Furnishings).


Expanding business

Two years later, a second Cohen’s Home Furnishings opened in Gander, followed by stores in Clarenville, Baie Verte and Springdale. A store and warehouses were also added in Grand Falls, which provided a centralized location for supplying products to all stores by the truckload.

With 13 locations in the province by 1985, the business had reached a stage where capital was needed to expand further. Deciding against a partnership, Boyd sold the business to locally-owned Charles R. Bell Limited and assumed the position of managing director until his retirement in 1994. Under Charles R. Bell ownership, Cohen’s expanded to 30 locations province-wide. However, with the increasing popularity of online furniture sales, consolidation was needed in recent years.


Modern day Cohen’s Home Furnishings store (photo credit: Cohen’s Home Furnishings).


Still where the home is

Today, Cohen’s has over 100 employees and 13 locations across Newfoundland. Still specializing in home furnishings, stores across the province sell furniture, appliances, bedding, flooring and other home-related products. Cohen’s also recently added a Paint Shop location to their St. Anthony store, in collaboration with the local business.

Still where the home is, 103 years later.

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