City Clerk Jim Snow, Mayor Pro Tem Leon Laylin, Chamber of Commerce President Tim Dowsett, Manager Larry Byrne, Assistant Manager Abby Purcell, Kim MacGregor of Edward Jones, Premier Rental-Purchase owner Jim Forker, Pat and Al Hill of Save-A-Lot, Joan Lyons, attorney Mark Herman and Miss Dowagiac Erica Greenwood at the Wednesday ribbon-cutting at 609 N. Front St.

Premier open by Save-A-Lot

Published 12:07am Thursday, April 5, 2012

Golf put Dowagiac on Jim Forker’s radar, and the new Premier Rental-Purchase at 609 N. Front St., next to Save-A-Lot, will keep it there.
Forker, a resident of Bridgman for 28 years, has opened four other locations since 2005, including Benton Harbor, Sturgis, Niles and Angola, Ind., in September 2011.
The six-year-old Benton Harbor store is twice the size of Dowagiac’s former Goodwill store because its format encompasses home furnishings.
When fully staffed, the store will employ five people. Larry Byrne is manager, assisted by Abby Purcell.
The rent-to-own store, which opened March 26, is larger inside than it appears because the windows don’t extend all the way across the front of the 5,000-square-foot space.
Premier is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.
Forker tired of the corporate world after more than 30 years in similar businesses and decided to step out on his own.
“Because we’re locally owned and operated,” Forker said, “we try to stay in smaller communities. Dowagiac’s a small, tight-knit community. We spend a lot of time over here golfing at Hampshire, Spruce Ridge and Indian Lake. We looked at Dowagiac a year ago and decided to do Angola first,” since he has a partner who lives in Quincy.
“We’re here for the community. We don’t really have a corporate office,” Forker said. “We offer six months same as cash. Managers are considered part owners and are able to order products from anywhere” beyond Kenmore, Whirlpool, General Electric, Lane and other name brands.
“We’re considered a rental store and a retailer,” Forker said.
“He’s known for going outside the bubble to get vendors the customer wants,” Byrne said. “We’re not pigeonholed.”
“We listen to our customers,” Forker said. “Customers dictate what actually happens. We go about 30 miles — Decatur, Paw Paw, Cassopolis.”
Expansion plans for 2013-14 include Paw Paw and Kalamazoo.

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