There’s no better example of the old saying “necessity is the mother of invention” than seeking something out, not finding it, and then making your own. That’s what happened to Jill Herro when she started her company, Secret Compartment Furniture.
“I searched online for furniture where I could store my gun and frankly found nothing I would want in my house,” Jill says. “There was nothing available that looked really nice. To me it all looked like garage projects.”
Jill had not been a gun person her whole life. Back in spring of 2009 she took a class, “on a lark” with some girlfriends, she says. “Some friends wanted to do it so I said OK. Prior to that class I had never touched a gun in my entire life. I was a complete newbie. I found out that I really enjoyed it and I found it to be very empowering.”
She ended up getting her own gun. And though she did not have children in the home, she still didn’t want the gun just laying around. And yet she wanted it to be accessible. Shortly after starting her fruitless search for nice-looking gun storage furniture, she got laid off.
“I thought, if I’m looking for furniture like this then other people are looking for it too,” she recalls. And since she lives in Ohio, she has access to a huge community of Amish furniture makers. “I thought, i can take advantage of that,” she says.
Jill designs each item and closely oversees its production. The website shows standard designs, but the Amish furniture makers can customize each and every detail of every item, from the wood to the stain to the size. “We are essentially a custom shop,” Jill says. “What you see on the site and what I take to the shows is the tip of the iceberg. Close to 50% of our furniture orders are custom requests.”
Amish furniture is known for being quality solid wood. These pieces have no pressboard, fiberboard or veneer. They are heirloom quality items that you would want to keep your gun in and so would your grandchild, or your great grandchild.
Jill designs her furniture to look “normal” on the outside, with functional drawers or panels. But on the sides, or in the back, is a secret compartment for gun storage. The compartments fit most standard firearms. Even if someone were to break into your home and open the drawer, they would not see the secret compartment with the firearm. “People would have a very difficult time figuring out that these are secret compartment pieces of furniture,” Jill says. “In the case of the side table with a drawer, there is a compartment is on both sides and the compartments are fully separate, with no connection to the drawer. Even if someone would yank that drawer out of there, which is hard, they wouldn’t see anything. You can put your gun on one side and your ammo on the other side, or a gun on each side, or a firearm on one side and Grandma’s Tiffany necklace on the other. Or be really radical and put the Snickers bars in there!” she says with a laugh.
The furniture does not come with locking compartments, but that can be added. All you have to do to open the secret compartment is know how to. People who purchase the furniture get instructions. “We all understand safety, but a gun safe doesn’t help me if there’s someone coming through the front door and I can’t get to it,” she says. “This allows you to keep a firearm easy to get at but still hidden away in plain sight.”
The company got off the ground in 2010. It’s been slow to grow, Jill says, because people keep their Secret Compartment Furniture, well, secret! “People buy a piece and then come back and buy another piece and I’ll ask them, ‘Have you told anybody?,’” she comments. “They say, ‘No, I haven’t even told my kids!” she says with a chuckle. I get no word of mouth because no one tells anyone what their furniture does.”
Jill’s Amish furniture makers can build a piece of furniture to any specification, and it doesn’t even have to have a secret compartment. She says they’ve taken orders for bathroom vanities and kitchens, because people see that her furniture is so well-made that they want other non-firearm furniture made in a similar way. “If it’s made out of wood we’ll build it,” she says.
That opens up a whole bunch of possibilities doesn’t it? Check out Jill’s secret compartment furniture.
By Jim MackinnonBeacon Journal business writerUp until the spring of 2009, Jill Herro said she had never touched a gun in her life.“On a lark, I took a concealed carry class with two of my girlfriends,” said Herro. “I really enjoyed it. … I found it to be empowering and kind of fun.”Shortly afterward, the [...]
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