Family-Owned Business Celebrates 70th Birthday

By Jonathan Farrell

In an out-sourcing economy where it seems just about everything, including major appliances, is made cheap, Noriega Furniture stands firm on a commitment to quality and customer service. And it has been that way for the past 70 years.

“My dad started the business in 1948 – right after WWII,” said owner Michael Vorperian. “And he wanted to provide everything for families that were establishing a home in the neighborhood.”

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Michael Vorperian is the second generation to operate Noriega Furniture, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary in the Sunset District. Photos: Tyrone Bartoli

With the baby boom of the post-WWII era in full swing, Vorperian’s father Jerry enjoyed a thriving business.

“Originally the store was on Noriega but, as it moved, eventually to where it is now on Taraval Street, my dad kept the name – Noriega Furniture,” Vorperian explained.

Yet, as the years went by those baby-boomer families moved away from the City and into the surrounding suburbs, like Marin, the wine country, Peninsula and East Bay.

“I know, because I grew up in Millbrae,” Vorperian said. “Dad wanted us to live away from the fog belt.”

It was during the ’60s and ’70s when Vorperian’s father began to focus more on quality, well-made items at the store, rather than just stocking anything to fill a home. Even if items were purchased as far away as Japan, they had to be high quality and built to last.

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Jerry Vorperian was the founder of Noriega Furniture, which was originally located on Noriega Street. When the business moved to Taraval Street, Vorperian kept the name.

The post-WWII era saw the introduction of plastics and acrylics into major appliances and furniture and the use of nylon, fiberglass and other synthetically made materials became more common.

By 1976, Noriega Furniture began its exclusive quest to carry only the best.

“My dad looked to long-standing manufacturers, like Stickley, which pride themselves on high quality, well made items,” Vorperian said. “Dad cultivated the demand for quality goods and maintained his customer base, even as families moved away from the City.”

Today, Vorperian deals with the grandchildren of his father’s original customers.

“The impact of this global economy and its outsourcing is a double-edge sword,” Vorperian said. “You can’t have high quality with price-driven, cheaply made products as a goal. Instant gratification at a low price for a cheaply made item leads to buyer’s remorse and more stuff in the landfill.”

The Vorperians business strategy has helped Noriega Furniture weather some difficult times.

“When the recession hit in 2008, it wasn’t easy. But we maintained our standards. People were not spending as much, but when they did it was more thoughtful. We are a bit ‘old-school’ as our merchandise avoids the trendy, flashy and glitzy and aims for things people want to keep for a long time. We like to help people take the time to select something that will last, something dependable, that they will be pleased with,” Vorperian said.

Noriega Furniture’s dedication to quality and standing behind its products is the winning formula that brings people back again and again, allowing the family-owned business to celebrate its platinum anniversary this year.

“Good customer service is built upon relationship and trust,” he said.

Vorperian said he does not know yet if any of his children will take over the business when he retires, but he is hopeful.

“I would like Noriega Furniture to be around for another 70 years,” he said.

The neighborhood and peoples’ tastes may change over the years, like a pendulum swinging, Vorperian said, but one thing never goes out of style: quality-made items built to stand the test of time.

Noriega Furniture is located at 1455 Taraval St. It is open Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, visit the web site at or call (415) 564-4110.

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