I wrote a check today to pay fees to the county and I absentmindedly wrote “1991” for the year when dating it. I laughed at myself and started over. But for the rest of the day I periodically reflected on the shocking fact that 1991 was thirty years ago! That’s crazy, right?
Thirty years ago we had just opened our second furniture store and purchased a former skating rink for a new warehouse. Now if you’ve never worked in a small business you might not know that you become close friends with the people you work with...in fact, you spend many more hours with them than you do with family and often feel like you served in battle together. Some of the fondest memories I have are in the store with that wonderful cast of characters.
We were furniture people, and that’s what we would always be. The other stores in our beloved East Tennessee area were too. Most of them had two or three generations behind them, as did we, each in our respective towns, selling to their neighbors and raising their families. We could call on each other when we needed an item to make a sale if the manufacturer was behind in production. That was the culture.
During this time, I soon gave birth to my only child, a son who was named for my father, my grandfather and the name of the family owned furniture business. When he was about three years oId he would play among the rows of recliners in our stores and hide in our galleries. He would bring me the pricing tags pulled off the furniture on the sales floor in a stack and proudly say, “here mommy, I got these for you” which prompted me or a salesperson to retag sections of the store.
I never dreamed of a day that we wouldn’t be owner/operators of a furniture company, but that day did come years later when I was no longer in the furniture business. Truly, while I was sad to leave and sell my family business, I was excited to explore finding different work and sharpen my niche. This decision ultimately made me a better entrepreneur and more importantly, a better mother.
My son is now grown and has worked with me in my home staging business for fifteen years, since 2006. Just me, my son and his best friend began staging homes when nobody really knew what staging was in Richmond. I couldn’t have done it without him; he even took time off during college to help out on bigger jobs! He is no longer the little boy but ironically he still hangs out with me in our wonderful new warehouse among several rows of chairs. He is learning to run the business and one day soon will lead our company. It is my hope that he finds all the camaraderie I did back in the old furniture store days...and that he someday will see his child play among rows of chairs.
Here’s to the next thirty years! Happy Mother’s Day.