Many Utahns, as the Mormon pioneers before them, believe the very best furniture is made of solid wood.

Not so, says Mark Ross, owner of Master's Thomasville Gallery of Murray."There's a lot of ways to make furniture, and one bad way to do it is make it out of solid wood," he said in a recent interview. The most durable furniture is constructed of layers of wood laminated together at high pressures to ensure it will not bow, crack or buckle over time, he said.

But it costs more, so much more that many furniture buyers will shy away from the hand-rubbed formal cherry dining-room sets or canopy beds offered by Thomasville Gallery.

"For folks who haven't shopped for furniture in 10 years, they come into a shop like this and pass out," he said.

Consequently, about 94 percent of Salt Lake Valley will not buy at Thomasville. So Thomasville caters to the other 6 percent, who Ross says get a better buy in the long run.

Pieces in the Thomasville collection are intended to last several generations. "Consequently, if a Thomasville piece goes bad, they give you a new one," Ross said.

Utahns are frugal shoppers, shopping an average of 61/2 times before making a major purchase. "Nationwide, they shop three times. Utahns are very price conscious and very value oriented," he said.

Like Utahns who have long cherished their traditional values, studies conducted by the furniture industry indicate that the selfish "me generation" of the past decade is long gone. The disco dancers of the '80s have become the homebodies of the '90s, and their decorating tastes reflect that, Ross said.

Thomasville's Country Inns and Back Roads collection takes one back to a simpler time, when people gathered in the parlor before supper to discuss the day's events in an intimate, cozy setting.

The look has been popular for a number of years in bed-and-breakfast establishments throughout the country. But it doesn't come cheap.

Says Ross: "This is really merchandizing to the heart instead of the pocketbook."

The Utah store is the first in the country to offer the company's new line, which Ross said should be very popular and enduring.