Nebraska Furniture Mart

By: SWSA

The Nebraska Furniture Mart, perhaps the largest US retailer, reports record-breaking sales in 1994. Rugs are displayed in every department, and furniture is displayed in vignettes to show customers how the pieces look together. VP Bob Batt, area rug buyer, claims to sell rugs for every taste and pocketbook, from polypropylenes to Orientals. He warns customers that going out of business sales often defraud.

At the Nebraska Furniture Mart, floorcovering sales aren’t swept under the rug.

Founded in 1937 by Rose Blumkin (the famous “Mrs. B,” who still, at 101 years old, keeps involved in the business), the Nebraska Furniture Mart is reportedly the largest-volume single furniture store retailer in the United States. Sales of area rugs (and other types of floorcovering) make up a considerable chunk of annual sales.

The Nebraska Furniture Mart specializes in medium to high-end merchandise and reported sales of more than $205 million in 1993. (The store projects sales of $250 million for 1994). The Mart is headed by Louis Blumkin, chairman emeritus; Irvin Blumkin, chief executive and chairman; Ron Blumkin, president and chief operating officer; and Bob Batt, vice president and area rug buyer. Batt noted that Marylu Goutierre, Oriental rug specialist, Gary Cissell, director of carpeting and Terry Billings, carpet sales manager, are also important parts of the store’s considerable area rug and broadloom sales.

Business is thriving, Batt added. “We’ve posted record-breaking sales this fall,” he said.

The store, more than 420,000 square feet of retail space on 65 acres, features rugs throughout. Rugs are displayed in furniture vignettes–including tasteful vignettes with Broyhill, Henredon, Drexel Heritage and Thomasville Furniture–as well as on racks and in stacks.

“Many times, a woman will come in to buy a sofa and will see a rug we’ve got merchandised with the sofa in a vignette,” said Batt. “She’ll often buy the rug, too. Vignettes are a great way to sell the whole room, rather than just one item. Racks and stacks are great, too, for someone that wants to flip through lots of different styles and colors quickly. But vignettes give consumers great decorating ideas, which we get thanked for all the time.”

Rug sources and price ranges at the Mart are diverse; from polypropylene by Shaw, to Chinese pieces from Nourison, from wool machine-mades by Karastan to high-end Pakistani rugs from Noonoo. To scope out new rugs and sources, Batt attends the Atlanta Area Rugs market twice a year and the Surfaces Market in Las Vegas, Nev., once a year and will head to Domotex, to be held in Hannover, Germany, in early January.

“We’ve got something for any consumer that could possibly walk through the door,” Batt said. “We have bound broadloom for the collegiate consumer–for as low as $19.99 for a dorm room-sized piece–and we have high-end handmades for her mother. We also have everything in between. We believe in servicing our customer by offering a wide range of product, and following that up with superior service.”

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