Photos by Brian Bruner Photography
Sunflower Furniture sits on the unassuming 9th block of Main Street, Longmont. On warm and sunny days, visitors are enticed inside by a few colorful midcentury pieces on the sidewalk. On the day I went in to interview its founder, Brian McCormack, a fresh snow had just fallen and the bright yellow from the flower on the awning was the only hint at the burst of color happening inside the store.
In two very stylish brown midcentury chairs, Brian and I sat down to talk about the business, the city of Longmont, and what makes him tick.
Brian has an amiable demeanor. When I asked how to spell his name, he was quick to also give me its historical significance. “McCormack,” he said, “means son of the Raven.” He went on to explain that “Mc” means “son of” and encouraged me to delve further into my own name’s etymology.
Born in New York City, Brian relocated to Boulder with his mother when he was a teen, and then went on to study at the University of Colorado. “In those days,” he said, “Longmont was the boonies. You could drive downtown and see sagebrush blowing across the street and the two towering structures downtown were the Butterball Turkey processing plant and the Sugar beet factory.”
The Butterball Turkey plant has since been demolished, but the two silos of the old sugar beet factory still dominate the skyline of Longmont. I drive by them frequently and wonder when Joanna Gaines is going to come here and work her magic.
Brian lives in East Boulder, but chose to open Sunflower Furniture in Longmont because rent for the square footage he needed was too high in Boulder. Because part of his store’s objective is to offer beautiful and well-made furniture at affordable prices, he wanted to save on rent and pass that savings on to his customers.
Why the name Sunflower Furniture?
“Well, the sunflower is one of the most iconic flowers around these parts. A lot of people don’t know this, but it’s one of the few flowers the Indians used to eat, and they’d make a tea from the seeds. So I think the fact that it’s tied to this area drew me to it, but also it’s just a happy and positive flower and that’s the vibe I want people to feel when they come into the store.”
Have you always wanted to be in the furniture business?
“I’ve always loved furniture. I was a big reader as a kid. One of the first books that really resonated and inspired me was a book about the Shakers. I was drawn to their aesthetic. They put their spirituality into what they made and in a way it was very Zen (although that’s probably an odd way to describe Shaker things). They got rid of a lot of embellishments and just went back to focusing on quality and craftsmanship.”
He points me to a pair of cylindrical boxes up on a shelf.
“Those up there are Shaker boxes. In the old days before we had plastics, they would use those to store their flower or sewing equipment. They’re really sturdy and well made and we offer them here in the store.”
What DO you offer in the store?
“We have suppliers that can supply any style of furniture, but here in the store we like to focus mostly on Scandinavian-inspired design. We carry sofas, tables, rugs, chairs, and some decor pieces too. Occasionally we have slightly used pieces of furniture, but generally it’s new pieces that come with warranties. If you don’t see exactly what you’re looking for in the store, we can help you find it and we are happy to do that. My floor manager Tessia will often do research for clients whether they buy from us or not. We just like to help people find exactly what they want.”
What makes your store unique?
“We buy directly from the manufacturer so that we can cut out the cost of middlemen. A lot of our pieces are cheaper than what you would find online. We can arrange local delivery if needed. We thoughtfully curate our selection and don’t put things in the store that we wouldn’t use in our own homes. We try to offer a lot of color and variety and provide a laid-back Colorado vibe. Furniture buying is usually a multi-step process in that it often takes more than one visit to the store. We love engaging with our customers and helping them through every step of the process. We also love helping out and supporting other local businesses through word of mouth.”
As we dove deeper into conversation, it was becoming clear to me that Brian is a man of incredible depth. Every time we covered a topic, he was able to provide me with a cultural or historical insight into it. He is an avid learner, a lover of experience, and seems genuinely grateful and happy to be given a human life. When I asked him about his end game goal he had this to say:
“I think the word ‘retire’ is an artifact of the 1950s. Before the 50s, nobody retired. Maybe they worked less but they didn’t retire. Retiring evokes images of golf courses and communities of people who are also old. I don’t have any interest in that. I think the reason people are so drawn to Boulder is because it is multi-generational and there are so many outdoor activities to keep you active. For me, I’m not a money driven person. I’m an experience driven person. I’ve always said, give me more time and I will find a way to fill it. So whether that means driving into the mountains on my motorcycle, or starting another business, it doesn’t really matter. As long as I can keep growing as a person, I’m happy.”
If you’re looking for a piece of furniture, I highly recommend going to Brian’s store and checking out his selection. Bright colors, clean lines, quality woods, and an incredibly friendly staff make this a wonderful asset to Longmont and to Boulder County as a whole. You can find them at 927 Main Street in Longmont, or online at www.sunflowerfurniture.com. You can also search Sunflower Furniture on Facebook and Instagram.
Until next time……