It's Always Sunny on Coit Road
A furniture store celebrates 20 years of business and influence in our neighborhood
By Sandy Greyson - The Advocate Magazine July 2010
In the early 1960s, the intersection of Coit and Spring Valley was being developed with shopping centers and luxury apartments intended for lease by employees of nearby Texas Instruments.
Over the years, the apartments have aged and the stores have changed hands, but one store on the northwest corner of Coit and Spring Valley has become an institution. Sunnyland Furniture and owners David and Debbie Schweig will celebrate 20 years at that location in March 2011.
Debbie Schweig’s father, Aaron Klausner, bought the shopping center in 1990. At the time, the center’s retail included a Tom Thumb grocery store, Page Drugstore, Sally Beauty Supply, Dickey’s BBQ and a health club with an indoor swimming pool.
Mr. Klausner bought the shopping center with the intention of making it into a home furnishings center with stores such as Dinettes and Dreams, which sold bedding and dinette sets. Debbie Schweig’s mother was a member of the Freed family, and she, her husband and her three brothers ran all the Freed Furniture Stores.
The original Sunnyland Furniture was owned by the Wallenstein family and located in the Ross and Greenville area of Dallas in the late 1950s and ’60s. The Freeds bought the store from the Wallensteins in 1970. They eventually moved the store to a location on Coit close to Forest and Central, but were plagued by continuous Texas Department of Transportation construction and reconstruction of roads and bridges in the area.
They decided to move again.
When Sunnyland opened at Spring Valley and Coit in the old Tom Thumb spot, it relaunched as a baby and outdoor furniture store. Although the original Sunnyland Furniture didn’t sell outdoor furniture, the name “Sunnyland” has been retained over the years because it’s a very appropriate name for a store that sells patio furnishings.
After five years, Sunnyland spun off the baby furniture section and rented that space to the popular String Bean restaurant. After 15 years in that location, String Bean has moved to Campbell on the Richardson side of Coit.
Around 2000, David Schweig began discussions with a developer about expanding and remodeling the shopping center. Debbie Schweig and her three sisters own the center from Sunnyland south to Spring Valley, with the exception of the corner property, which was slated to become a Starbucks but became a check cashing store instead.
The neighborhoods surrounding the Coit/Spring Valley intersection were enthusiastic about the prospect of an expanded and refurbished shopping center. A rundown apartment complex named Holly Tree had been standing immediately to the north of Sunnyland. Holly Tree was a blighted property on land not zoned for apartments, so the Dallas Board of Adjustment ordered it closed down and demolished. That created the opportunity to expand the shopping center with an Albertson’s grocery store and other shops, and to modernize the façades of the existing structures to match the new stores.
Albertson’s lasted only two or three years at that location, but a thriving El Rancho Supermercado is doing business there now.
Today, Sunnyland operates in 65,000 square feet of space. With the popularity of outdoor living rooms, it’s a 10-months-of-the-year business, and also sells accessories, park benches, gliders, Christmas gifts and gift certificates. Its high season for sales is March through October, and once a month in season, David Schweig talks about industry trends and specific manufacturers on channel 8’s “Good Morning Texas” from 9-10 a.m. I’ve also heard him on radio stations KRLD, KVIL and KLUV.
In addition to being instrumental in updating the center, the Schweigs are working with the City of Dallas on a pedestrian amenities project to landscape and enhance the sidewalk along the west side of Coit from Spring Valley to Haymeadow.
It’s always a pleasure to visit with David and Debbie Schweig and their son, Brad, but it’s also a pleasure to see a successful business give back to the neighborhood in which it’s located.
Sandy Greyson, a neighborhood resident and former city councilwoman, writes a monthly opinion column about neighborhood issues. Her opinions are not necessarily those of the Advocate or its management.