• Clint Engel

Today's Home co-founder Audrey Lenchner dies at 86

Pittsburgh retailer was a design leader

PITTSBURGH — Audrey Lenchner, who co-founded Today's Home here with her husband and is recognized as an industry design pioneer, died Dec. 21. She was 86.

In an obituary in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, son Jeff Lenchner, now CEO of the upscale Pittsburgh-area home furnishings business, said his mother was "a working professional well before it was fashionable for women to enter the workforce."

"Business savvy, charisma and a talent for visual design that led to the creation of the modern furniture showroom helped Mrs. Lenchner carve a name for herself as a pioneer of the retail design industry," the story said.

Lenchner married Sigmund Lenchner in 1945 and became his partner in business eight years later when they opened their first Today's Home store on McKnight Road in Pittsburgh. She had a talent both for in-store and in-home design.

"Audrey really pioneered the concept of whole home design. She did a great job at a time when most people were just lining up sofas against a wall," said Robert Stamper, vice president of Lexington Home Brands, said in the report.

Stamper worked with Lenchner during his days at Drexel Heritage.

The Lenchners expanded Today's Home - now in its 61st year - over time, eventually growing to five showrooms. Today, the family has three operating companies - Today's Home and Designer Furniture Outlet, which operate out of the same two Pittsburgh locations, and TH Trade, a commercial contract business with a 15,000-square-foot showroom that also serves independent designers in western Pennsylvania.

"There is no question in my mind that without Audrey's involvement in our business with my dad, Sigmund, for the first 25 years that we would have ever had the ability to grow into the corporation we have today," Jeff Lenchner told Furniture/Today. "The foundation that they created together paved the way to our growth potential now 60 years later."

In addition to Sigmund, now 93, and son Jeff, Audrey Lenchner is survived by sons Mark and Gary Lenchner, six grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

Memorial contributions may be made to a charity of the donor's choice.

Clint EngelClint Engel | Senior Retail Editor, Furniture Today

Please feel free to email or call me with all of your retail news and tips, including expansion news, successful merchandising and marketing strategies and anything else you would like to see covered by Furniture/Today.  Contact me directly at cengel@furnituretoday.com or 336-605-1129.

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