Photographed above - Mr. Singh, Amrit Singh, Mrs. Sarjeet Kaur Singh (Founder), and Jag Singh, owners of Fair Deal Furniture
Written by Emily Meyer, freelance journalist in Calgary
Long-time residents of Calgary may remember the summer of 1991 for its rainstorms. Mrs. Singh, who at the time was raising three young children with her husband, remembers it for another reason.
That year, with some encouragement from a family member in the industry, she decided to follow her dream of starting a furniture store.
“It’s one thing to say, I can do this because I have a background in it,” says Mrs. Singh’s daughter, Amrit, who is now co-owner alongside her brother, Jag. “It’s another to say, let’s just do this and figure it out as we go. But that was the mindset back then.”
With a store located in northeast Calgary for the past 30 years, and a move to its current Sunridge location in 2011, it’s hard to imagine the northeast without Fair Deal.
At the time, however, it wasn’t so much a deliberate decision to set up shop in the northeast, but a practical one.
Choosing northeast Calgary
Fair Deal Furniture was the first ethnic woman-owned furniture store in Calgary.
With three young children and a husband who worked full-time at CP Rail, Ms. Singh needed a store location that was still close to home and school.
After working a full shift, Mr. Singh would pick up the kids from school, prepare dinner and spend time with them, before heading to the furniture store where Mrs. Singh had spent her day.
“It’s every immigrant’s story,” says Amrit. “They worked incredibly hard.”
“It’s every immigrant’s story... they worked incredibly hard.”
— Amrit Singh, Co-owner of Fair Deal Furniture
In the eyes of Amrit and Jag, the hard work of their parents paved the way for what they both agree is the ultimate goal of owning a business — to balance work and family life.
As parents to young children themselves now, they recognize the beauty of being able to spend time with their families while running a business. Amrit and her husband have two young boys, and Jag and his wife welcomed a baby girl this past spring.
On any given day, customers will find either Jag, Amrit, Mr. Singh, and/or Mrs. Singh, often with the grandchildren, at the store.
Amrit and Jag agree that Fair Deal has managed to survive economic ups and downs over the years, as well as the pandemic, thanks to the continued support of their customers, team, and the Calgary community.
They say they owe their success to keeping their values strong, as well as keeping up with the changing needs of their customers.
Same hospitality, new vision
Since opening its doors, Fair Deal has offered Canadian-made furniture. The store now offers a wider variety of Canadian-made pieces and styles to meet the changing preferences of its customers.
Before Mrs. Singh was a business owner, she was a homemaker part of a culture known for its warm hospitality. Without any formal training in business, she operated Fair Deal the only way she knew how, by caring for each customer as she would for her own family.
Amrit recalls being told a story by an 87-year-old customer who said that in 1991, when her husband was unwell, she called Mrs. Singh to order a new mattress, and it was delivered as soon as possible.
Even today, Fair Deal operates with the same level of care for its customers and people.
“We don’t want customers to feel like they are being sold to,” says Jag. “We want them to feel they are speaking with the family.”
“We don’t want customers to feel like they are being sold to. We want them to feel they are speaking with the family.”
— Jag Singh, Co-owner, Fair Deal Furniture
Amrit and Jag agree that while Fair Deal still has the same warm atmosphere it had back in 1991, it’s no longer a small mom-and-pop shop.
“We’ve grown from the mom-and-pop concept,” explains Amrit. “The customer that bought from my mom back in the day, their children are now at the life stage to buy furniture, and we appreciate that they’re coming back to buy from us.”
Since joining the business, Jag and Amrit have worked to transform Fair Deal by understanding the changing needs of their customers. This has involved introducing new collections, a price guarantee, financing options, and other programs.
When Mrs. Singh opened Fair Deal in the early 90s, part of the appeal was the style of furniture they sourced. It was one of the only stores at the time that carried eastern-inspired furniture styles, bringing a little bit of home to many new immigrant families.
Today, the business has evolved to offer a variety of styles, with a significant number of Canadian-made collections. However, Amrit and Jag have seen to it that they still have a selection of eastern-inspired styles.
With its varied selection and commitment to fair prices, as well as its intrinsic understanding of home, Fair Deal Furniture may be the best furniture store in Calgary.
The next 30 years
The team at Fair Deal believes in providing an honest and genuine service to its customers.
A fond memory for both Jag and Amrit is being known around town as the Fair Deal children.
While it was never the expectation that the Fair Deal children would one day become Fair Deal owners, as life progressed, both Amrit and Jag found their way to the family business to continue their mom’s legacy.
Jag believes that Fair Deal is more than just a furniture store. He sees it as a place where the team openly shares their collective expertise to truly help their customers make their homes beautiful and functional.
“Because we’re a family store, a lot of what we do reflects our own personal values,” says Jag. “We are always trying to provide furniture and service that we would offer to our own family.”
With Amrit’s eldest son taking great pride in his knowledge of furniture, it seems possible that a third generation may even find their way into the family business some day.
When asked what's next for Fair Deal, Jag says, “Our family has done this for 30 years, and we're excited for the next 30."