The Willy Wonka Of The Furniture Industry

I recently wrote about my upcoming trip to the annual Seena Magowitz event and as expected it was a huge success. Dave Perry does a great write up about it in Furniture Today so check that out. He even gave Kinsley and I some love as he reviewed our performance as the events auctioneers. I am happy to say that we were able to extract $125,000 this year from the very generous attendees so thanks again to everybody that participated.

Instead of golfing this year I went on a private tour of Jordan’s Furniture, hosted by Peter Bolton their COO and Lorie Silva their Director of Bedding Operations or the “Bedding goddess” as some refer to her. Yes I love to golf but I have been in the industry for 25 years and have never been to Jordan’s so I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity. Boy am I glad I went.

Here are a few facts for you to consider about this furniture mecca.  It was started way back in 1918 by Samuel Tatelman and in the late 30’s his son Edward joined the business. Edward’s sons Barry and Eliot took over after that that and grew it into what is is today. They have 7 locations and get over 3 million people in their stores annually. They were purchased in 1999 by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. when reported sales were estimated at $250 million so one can only imagine where those numbers are today.

I can sum up my big takeaway from this trip in a single word. VISION. I was talking to Peter about the early years and heard him speak of his father who was an Orthopedic Surgeon and how conversations with his father grew into a VISION where he thought selling a mattress should be about more than the item itself. Instead, linking it to human form and health. Lorie’s VISION of turning the entire mattress category into a place where the consumer could come and learn about the product the right way. Dressing her sales force in white lab coats only AFTER they had earned their stripes learning about sleep and sleep equipment in an 8 week training course.  The VISION of Elliot as he stood on top of a trash heap and spoke of how awesome it was going to be when they transformed that spot into “Beantown” one of their newest locations that gets over 1 million visitors a year. If that’s not enough there are IMAX theater’s, dancing water shows and a Bean Stalk ropes course to entertain the Jordan’s guest as they shop.

If your business delivered a great customer experience, sold quality merchandise at fair prices, and made significant profits for your shareholders, you would be pretty happy with that right? Jordan’s didn’t stop there. The VISION was to create such an incredible place that it has become a tourist destination! This is a place where families from all over Boston have come to shop AND CREATE MEMORIES. If you are having fun, will you be in a state of mind to spend money? Have you ever been to a tourist destination on vacation and hit the shops in town? Did you happily spend some money?

This is the kind of thinking that gets me fired up. They are without a doubt the Willy Wonka of the furniture industry. Not just a place to buy a sofa or a mattress, but a place to come and EXPERIENCE something truly unique. The best part of this for me is the heart that goes into every detail. These guys aren’t building these stores just to sell product. They are building these EXPERIENCES to WOW their customer. To exceed the wildest expectation and earn those big eyes they see on the face of every kid that walks through the front door. When you watch Peter and Lori and the rest of the team at Jordan’s talk about their store, they tell the story with great enthusiasm as if it were the first time they had shown the place off to somebody. That passion and excitement is contagious and the transfer of that to the customer pays big dividends.

Congrats to every Jordan’s employee out there because I know it takes all of you to deliver on the promise of the brand. You guys have accomplished something outrageously good. Well done!

Water Show
Water Show
Ropes Course
Ropes Course
Jordan's Furniture in Reading, MA
Jordan’s Furniture in Reading, MA

2 thoughts on “The Willy Wonka Of The Furniture Industry

  1. Great article Mark. Peter and Lorie have truly created an exceptional consumer experience at Jordan’s. Having lived here ll my life, I think we sometimes take their vision and expertise for granted. It has been a pleasure to see them grow from a small furniture store in Waltham to a destination that has become something that we as New Englanders are extremely proud of. Thank you for sharing!

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