If you were a child growing up in Omaha, when your mother said it was time to go furniture shopping on a bright, beautiful Saturday morning, your heart sank. “Furniture shopping” meant the entire day would be wasted, following your parents as they tagged along behind a salesman in a short sleeved shirt and tie, through the vastness of The Mart. And you didn’t dare wander off on your own, not without a trail of breadcrumbs and a canteen of water … it would take your parents three hours (minimum) to find you in that place. (Although, if they were smart, they would’ve started by looking in the bunk beds. For me, that was always the coolest part of the store.)
After six hours (minimum) of walking up and down countless aisles of coffee tables, sofas, and recliners, your feet sore and legs tired, you’d breathe a sigh of relief as it was finally time to sign the financing paperwork or write the check: We were done, hallelu! You’d finally think it was time to leave … but no … Dad had to drive to the warehouse behind the store, a process that (to my 8YO’s memory) seemed to take FOREVER … waiting in the car, queued up for the warehouse, waiting to load up whatever it was so we could take it home.
I’m certain that my brother Jason and I whined relentlessly through the entire ordeal. (I know this because I am now mother to my own Whiner. My parents deserve medals for surviving in the days before iPads.) And, I’m sure this ordeal was repeated many times during my childhood as we went back to the Mart for newer, better furniture and appliances on a regular basis.
NFM is a true Made in America story – and A Mighty Girl story to boot. It was started in 1937 by a small, Russian Jewish woman by name of Rose Blumkin, who started by selling furnishings out of the basement of her husband’s clothing store. Her motto? “Sell cheap and tell the truth.”
As an Omaha child in the 80s – when she was already well into her 90s – I have two memories of Mrs. B:
1) Her horrible, horrible, television commercials. Sorry, Mrs. B, loved ya, but between the accent and your advanced age, I couldn’t understand a word you said. (It was probably “Sell cheap and tell the truth”, but it sounded like msghstkehgsahshshs.)
2) Seeing Mrs B on her scooter, in the flooring department, still wheeling and dealing (she worked until she was 103). If she thought someone on the staff wasn’t giving you the best deal, well, look out. She’d cut that poor salesman out in a hot minute if she thought she could get you a better deal.
My dad tells stories of salesmen loitering in the HR department – they’d all been “fired” by Mrs B and were just waiting for her to cool down so they could go back to work. She didn’t take any crap off of anyone – which is part of how she built her furniture business from the basement of her husband’s clothing store into what is arguably one of the largest furniture stores in the country.
And, in her later years, Mrs. B shook hands with one Warren Buffett and turned majority control of NFM over to Berkshire Hathway – simply with a handshake. Her son and grandsons continue in the operation, so there is still some Mrs B in those hallowed hallways.
So while I’m sure this all impresses my TX friends, I’m guessing many of you are thinking, big whoop. Furniture store. Granted, the biggest freaking furniture store you will EVER SEE (the DFW store dwarfs the Omaha version; I’m hoping they provide guide dogs), but a furniture store nonetheless.
I can guarantee you all that you will make a purchase at NFM once they open – a TV, a fridge, a sofa. Something. And even if you don’t, I’m betting you will be better off for having NFM sitting on its 60 gajillion acre site in The Colony, because NFM will force everyone else to lower their prices.
A handful of things about The Mart:
1) Their warehouse is connected to the store – you want to put that TV in the back of the truck? Pull up and get it. Ditto sofas, appliances – all of it. That’s part of why that store has such a monstrous footprint in The Colony, much of it is the warehouse. And if you don’t want to deal with that, there’s always delivery, and it’s pretty reasonable.
2) Betcha a Starbucks that their flooring prices will beat anyone in the metroplex – Mrs B wouldn’t have it any other way.
3) Their prices on furniture, appliances and TVs really ARE that good. When we first moved into our current house, Skip and I separately went shopping for a grandfather clock (unbeknownst to the other … thankfully a 3YO Katie had no mouth filter, and prevented us from a pretty expensive, duplicative Christmas). I found the clock here in DFW – $3,000. Skip found the exact same clock at NFM in Kansas City – $1,800.
4) A store that big has an amazing selection. If you can’t find it there, it’s probably not in existence. Really. And it’s not cheap stuff – it’s good, quality, name brand furniture and appliances.
5) And for geeked out husbands like mine? Aisles and aisles of video games, DVDs, CDs (OK, maybe not CDs so much any more with all of the streaming media available) to keep him occupied while I’m off looking at appliances – we both win!
My almost 20YO washer/dryer JUST have to hold on until March of 2015 – when NFM of TX is scheduled to open.
However, if the washer/dryer go feet up on NFM opening weekend … Skip’s going solo. No way I’m getting anywhere near that place on opening weekend (I see how you Texans behaved when Ikea opened … and that’s all I’m gonna say).