Phyl’s Furniture in Olympia ‘broken but still open’ after car crashes into display room

By Sara Gentzler

The Olympian

A letter board outside Phyl’s Furniture Connexion in west Olympia read “A bit broken but still open!!!!” Saturday, but it seems many masked customers already had heard the news.

When The Olympian stopped by at about 11:30 a.m., the store was bustling with foot traffic. But its recent trauma was front-and-center: A car crashed into the store’s front display room early Friday, destroying the structure and damaging much of the furniture inside — a license plate was among a mangled lamp and other debris, behind caution tape.

Store Manager Gail Liden said she woke up restless about 4 a.m. Friday and found she had missed multiple calls. A voicemail from an Olympia Police officer clued her in.

About 12:15 a.m., she said, a driver heading east on Harrison Avenue had fallen asleep at the wheel, drifted across lanes, and crashed into the building. Police response time “was awesome,” she said, and the property owner who lives nearby came to the scene.

Nobody was hurt, and, to her knowledge, that includes the driver. The Olympian was unable to confirm that with Olympia Police Saturday.

The store uses the display room to showcase its most popular items, Liden said, so people driving by can see them. It was surrounded by a boardwalk and displayed a full living room setup. Now, it’s “pretty much destroyed,” she said. The large windows encasing the display are shattered, the roof is collapsing, and most of the furniture inside is damaged.

From inside the main store building, though, you wouldn’t know it. What was the entrance to the room has been boarded up and there’s a rug hanging over the scar.

The destroyed room is a prime location, but it only accounts for roughly 100 square feet of what Liden estimates is about a 15,000-square-foot store, including its upstairs. And she said the store has “been very blessed” to be in a good position, despite the pandemic that’s shut down businesses and upended the economy.

“An accident happened, it’s unfortunate — we lost a room temporarily, but we move on,” she said. “We have 15 other rooms.”

The store is working with insurance companies to figure out next steps for possible rebuilding, but they got the OK to reopen Saturday after closing Friday due to the damage.

Phyl’s Furniture has been around for many years, Liden said, and The Furniture Connexion once supplied the store with product as a wholesaler. When the owners retired, they asked if The Furniture Connexion wanted to lease the building.

“There’s a lot of history and presence in this community,” Liden said, and that’s been clear in the aftermath of Friday’s accident.

“We had so many people reaching out yesterday, we had people driving by, stopping, showing their concern — we had phone calls, lots of phone calls and a lot of texts,” she said.

“We just want to thank everybody for their show of support.”