August 2001

Franklin Pusateri

by Joseph RADDER

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“The harder you work the luckier you get.” Franklin Pusateri calls that a cliche. However, no other phrase sums up his philosophy of life better than those eight words of wisdom.

The incredible furniture showroom he and his son and daughter own and operate is a monument to hard work with lots of good taste and perhaps a little luck thrown in.

Franklin and his brother, Ray, opened the business, now known as Advance Furniture, in 1955. Originally it was a hardware and appliance store. “It soon became appliances and furniture. Since constructing our own building across the street at 2525 Elmwood Avenue we’ve expanded it three times,” Pusateri says. Today it is probably one of the largest contemporary furniture stores in New York State, so unique that customers come from all over the United States.

The Pusateris found a niche for their store early on when they decided to concentrate on the highest quality contemporary furniture from both Europe and the U.S. Franklin is proud to say, “You won’t find a bit of plastic in this store. No plastic furniture, no plastic sales people.”

“We buy furniture all over the world.” The striking beauty of the many suites, occasional pieces and accessories on display at Advance Furniture reflect the Pusateris’ and their customers’ impeccable taste. First time visitors to the store will be amazed.

Pusateri credits his parents and grandparents, particularly “a wonderful mother” for impressing on him the value of being in business for one’s self. The elder Pusateris had been in the wholesale produce business, but, with the independent retail grocery stores pretty much extinct, that business has gone the way of many like it.

Franklin Pusateri was born in Buffalo in 1928. He attended School 64, Bennett High School and he graduated from Notre Dame in 1949. He went to work for Trico for a few years before opening the store with his brother. In 1959 he married Margaret Post. They had been married 27 years when she died in 1986. “We had three wonderful children,” he said. “And these kids are responsible for the success of Advance Furniture. For example, they introduced the most extensive furniture web site on the Internet today. And now we sell all over the United States. It’s a far cry from the early days. Getting this business started was like trying to climb up the side of the Rand Building. You’d climb up two feet and slip back one.”

Franklin Pusateri is so modest it was like trying to make Niagara Falls run uphill for him to say anything good about himself. “I was just an average kid that people didn’t expect much from,” he said. Thanks to his son John, we learned that he graduated from high school after just three years, from college at the age of 20 and started his business at the age of 21. He once climbed a snow-covered mountain in Colorado and has hiked the Niagara Gorge.

Physical fitness is very important to this man, and his trim frame, sun-tanned complexion and snow-white hair attest to the fact that he believes in fitness. “If the Lord gives you good health,” he says, “it’s up to you to play ball with him and take care of yourself.”

Taking his own advice, he walks from two to five miles every day and bikes, hikes and skis, both downhill and cross-country. When in his beloved Sarasota, Florida, he walks five miles every day on the!

Franklin Pusateri loves to travel as well. He has been all over the United States and to Europe four times, twice to his grandparents’ native Italy. On these trips he combines business with pleasure, buying the best contemporary furniture pieces and accessories the visited country has to offer.

“I’m always glad to get back to Buffalo,” he says. “I love Buffalo. It’s not a transient city. People’s roots run deep here and friendships last a lifetime.”

Every Friday night Franklin gets together with three or four friends he has known for over 50 years. “I look forward to those Friday night fish frys. They’re a highlight of my week.”

When asked about the secret of staying young through one’s senior years, Pusateri was quick to respond. “You have to have a purpose in life, and you have to think young. I know people who are in their 80s and are young at heart and there are people in their 30s who are already old.”

It’s clear that Franklin Pusateri’s greatest joy is in seeing the success of his children. He still comes in to work every day but at the same time he maintains the freedom he has earned by working over 50 years. “If I want to travel, I go. If I want to go to a ballgame or ride my bike, I do it.”

In many ways our senior years are our best years if we live them like Franklin Pusateri does.

Joseph Radder is a freelance writer.


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