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Men find a way to ‘pay it forward’

When Randy Bradley and Barney Grosberg decided to dedicate their new venture to God, they backed their words with actions.

The owners of Then and Now, a new and used furniture store in Park Hills, have stepped up to help several families in need by donating furniture, appliances and other household items.

One of those families was Ronika Boren and her children, who first met Bradley a year ago.

“He didn’t know me from anybody, but he was so nice,” she said. “He really helped me out a lot. I really appreciate his help.”

Boren had checked into rehab and moved here for a new start. However, while she was in rehab, her furniture was stolen from storage. She and her children had little left in possessions, and Boren did not yet have a job.

“He was very understanding and not judgmental,” she said of Bradley. “He said he wanted to help and he gave us a kitchen table, chairs and a bed.”

Boren has worked hard to move her family from a shelter to a nice home. With her tax return, she returned to Then and Now to buy living room furniture and let the two men know that their help allowed her to get back on her feet.

The two men have known each other for 35 years. Bradley’s family owned a furniture and appliance store in St. Louis and Grosberg was a Zenith sales representative when they met. Later, they each began separate ventures. Two years ago, they learned Budget House had been vacant for a few years. The two men decided to open a new and used furniture store in the building. It would allow the men to be close to their families, and meant Bradley could stop traveling and be home with his family every night.

They also wanted an opportunity to offer higher quality furniture for lower prices to give buyers an option to inexpensive pressed board furniture.

While Grosberg’s wife, Rhonda, works the desk, the men find furniture through estate sales, word of mouth, and walk-ins. They travel to explore attics, look for people who are downsizing and want to get rid of furniture, and snap up good deals for new items.

However, this business is more than just a way to earn money.

“We dedicated this venture to the Lord,” Bradley said.

That means compassion is most important in their business. They hire staff who are trying to straighten out their lives. They give a fair price for items they buy and ask fair prices for those they sell. They have walked away from purchases rather than offend an unrealistic seller with their offer. They barter and trade to get the best deals and help buyers afford what they need.

And when a local minister shows up asking for help for a needy family, Bradley and Grosberg donate items that they need.

“Plenty of people have helped us along the way,” Bradley said. “If pastors encounter people with a special need, we encourage them to come see us.

Grosberg told of a family who moved to the area with their children, looking for a new start. The family had nothing but themselves.

“We gave them a bedroom set, living room furniture, a dinette, appliances, pots and pans and kitchen utensils,” he said.

Then and Now gets new items in daily, and there is always more than can be currently displayed in the store’s many rooms.

“We have an overflow of merchandise that we are willing to share at no cost,” Bradley said.

Donations go to people who are referred to them by local clergy. One family had been burned out of their home. Another was a single woman and her children who were trying to get their lives together. She went by the store recently to let them know she was doing well and appreciated all their help.

Grosberg and Bradley believe this is what they are supposed to be doing for others.

“It doesn’t solve their problems, but it gives some comfort while they are dealing with other issues,” Bradley said.

Their donations to those in need are one way the men can “pay it forward.” They also seize opportunities to “give back” to the place they now call home.

“We’re determined to be involved with the community,” Bradley said. “The community has given us nothing but encouragement and support.”

Boren said she is not the only one who appreciates the men’s efforts. The staff who work there receive a chance to better themselves.

“Some people do want to do right with their lives,” she said. “It’s nice to know there are some people who are willing to give them a chance.”

Paula Barr is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 172 or at

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