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Photo of Kathy KIlbourn as a child at TriCity Furniture in Auburn

Back in the 50’s , local stores existed easily in small communities, as they serviced the needs of that local community. People did not travel as far to purchase food, clothing, and home goods. Smaller towns each had a grocery store with a great meat counter, a general store that had everything you could possibly want, and so why not a furniture store with appliances and flooring? 













In the early summer of 1957, the building that had been the Auburn Theater was purchased to become TriCity Furniture. It was a large building but it had a major problem…..the floor was slanted! The first thing to get done was remove the theater seats and level the floor! Still today, the front of our building is a cement floor, and at the back of the building, it is the wood floor that was installed in 1957. The original cement floor is about 6 feet below! Thank heaven they used heavier supports in that floor….who knew how much weight would be put on that floor over the years!


So, in September 1957, Tri City Furniture opened. Ron Fahrner moved his family to Auburn. He ran the store alone in the beginning, and would run deliveries after hours with the help of friends! Ron had grown up with a background in retail business. His grandfather was a shoe cobbler and made custom shoes for his clients. Later the family expanded into full clothing lines, and then into appliances. Ron knew a lot about business, but more important understood the needs of people and had a heart to do everything to help them make their home comfortable and give them a great value! Ron's Children are pictured above in front of one of the original “TriCity Furniture & Appliance” Store Delivery Trailers.


With the growth of the business in the late 60’s, Ron needed more space, so he added on a warehouse and additional display area. This allowed him to have furniture, flooring, appliance and electronics. TriCity became well known in the Mid-Michigan area as the place to purchase items for your home!

Ron's daughter, Kathy came to work with him while in high school and through college.












Lee Kilbourn and Kathy Fahrner Kilbourn

After being married in 1977, Kathy and her husband, Lee Kilbourn, joined Tri City Furniture full time! Both having business and design degrees, Kathy and Lee brought new vision to Tri City Furniture.

In 1979, once again we felt the need for more room. Since the building was made tall from the days of the theater, there was lots of space to go up. So a second floor was added to the main showroom. That was a great idea, but had a few concerns because the supports could not just be added to the existing floor. Holes had to be cut through that floor and the support beams had to go down to the original slanted floor. Ron had an old German carpenter who was able to hand-hone each beam to fit perfect.

Tri City Furniture could see the onset of imported products coming into the furniture world. Having done business with quality American companies who were concerned with making and servicing there products, we did not like what we were seeing become the new furniture standards. Import companies were removing steel, solid wood construction, lower quality fabrics and cheaper foams, and with the cheaper labor foreign countries offered, Americans needed to change their expectations for how long furniture would last. Many clients have said, ” My last sofa has lasted 25 years and it is actually still in excellent condition but I am just tired of it!” Today, that is still possible, but not from imported products! That is why Tri City Furniture specializes in American made furniture. We all want great quality and at a great price, but we all know American workers are paid better wages and therefore, American products will cost a little more.

Tri City Furniture is unique as a furniture destination because our products are not just ‘what you see is what you get.’ We have over 6000 fabric choices and many of our companies offer choices of wood species and wood stains so that your piece of furniture can be made just the way that you want it! We also offer different style arms, trims, and cushions can come in choice of firmness. Come let us help you design a room of your dreams!

Ron Fahrner retired in 1997 and Kathy and Lee continue to run Tri City Furniture along with 8 additional employees. Our vision is to provide quality American Made furniture and design to make your life more comfortable.

Lee & Kathy Kilbourn, Furniture store owner in Auburn, MI
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