By Mecca Ray-Rouse

In 2001, Mark and Jane Gilbert purchased their 40,000-square-foot storefront, and in 2007, renamed their business Edgewater Home Furnishings. The name came to the couple from their love of nature, and the Great Blue Heron logo represents who they are as a company and as a couple.

“Three days in a row they were flying over my head at this property, so I decided that was our spirit animal,” Jane says. “After doing some research, we found out Great Blue Heron are known for their strength, and we really liked that concept.”

With their larger space, the Gilberts were able to expand their inventory to better cater to their customers. With an emphasis on supporting local businesses and sustainability, their shop is full of Northwest vendors and pieces made with bamboo and reclaimed wood. Their top sofa line is from an Oregon manufacturer, and their tag line is “Made for Oregonians by the hands of Oregonians.”

“Small businesses are the bone structure of a neighborhood; there’s a responsibility to be a good neighbor,” Jane says. “We’ve become stewards of not only our neighborhood but of our community, who have welcomed us into their homes for the past 38 years, and we’re at a time in our lives where we want to give back.”

While many people just know Edgewater Home Furnishings as a furniture store, some may have noticed the transport van parked out front, or the large amount of pet food in the back, or the immense number of presents under the CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Christmas tree this past year—Edgewater is much more than just a furniture store.

First, the van. Mark started transporting rescue dogs from California to Oregon while he was delivering a few furniture pieces to his customers. Fast-forward from 13 dogs in a Prius to a fully equipped rescue van displaying pictures of rescue dogs (including local Luvable Dog Rescue dogs Wicket and Picasso) and Edgewater Home Furnishings plastered on the side. Mark and Jane have always been dog lovers, and they started their nonprofit, A New Leash On Life, five years ago with the intention of helping to bring dogs from high-kill shelters in California to rescues in Oregon and Washington. They’ve rescued over 8,000 dogs and are on their third rescue vehicle. They run a pet food bank, too, where rescue shelters can grab food for their animals; volunteers also run the donated food out to rural pet food banks that are in need. They work closely with S.P.O.T (Stop Pet Overpopulation Today) on educating the public about spaying and neutering and animal welfare.

Edgewater also supports CASA of Lane County, a nonprofit that works with abused and neglected kids. Jane has personally been working with CASA for more than 18 years, and Edgewater hosts the organization’s annual clothing drive fundraiser. This past year, they also sent part of their Petsmart Stuffed Animal donation drive items to kids affected by the California wildfires. Police officers put the toys in the back of their car to comfort children who had just lost their home in the fires.

For the Gilberts, who have some of the biggest hearts around, it’s all about connecting. “A lot of us are just walking through life as zombies, going through day-to-day routines, and I don’t think it’s very fulfilling,” Jane says. “The relationships, being welcomed into people’s homes to help decorate, helping rescue dogs, and advocating for CASA kids—everything we do makes my life richer knowing other people’s lives are richer. It’s very personal to me.”   

Edgewater Home Furnishings, 155 Division Ave, Eugene, 541/484-1962, edgewaterfurniture.com