HFA member Sam Zavary got his work ethic honestly – from his father.
They say everything is bigger in Texas, and Sam Zavary’s rags-to-riches story is no exception. The oldest of four children whose family immigrated from Pakistan, Zavary opened his first Exclusive Furniture store in 1998. He was 21 and a part-time college student.
Today Zavary is 41, married with four children. Exclusive has grown up, too: Seven stores, a clearance center and gross sales of $52 million anticipated this year.
Zavary’s success, came along with a lot of hard work. That determination and work ethic was instilled in Zavary at a young age by his late father.
He says it’s impossible to convey the impact Abdul Zavary had on his life. “How do you describe his impact on my family? How do you measure his support, his guidance?” Zavary asks.
Abdul Zavary worked as a grocery store clerk and later at a gas station. Sam Zavary’s first jobs were working in a grocery store and later selling long-distance phone contracts while attending the University of Houston.
In 1998, Abdul Zavary told his son Sam, to do something over spring break. Hang out with friends, go to the beach – anything but work. Sam visited his uncle in California and hung out in his furniture store. He helped unpack furniture, sold a few sofas, delivered bedroom sets – a little bit of everything.
“When I got home,” he says, “I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
He also drove around Houston dropping in on furniture stores and pretending to be a shopper. He wrote down what he learned in a notebook. “I had a 60-day crash course in how to run a furniture store,” he said.
Exclusive's First Store
Sam's first store was in an aging shopping mall in a neglected Houston neighborhood. As Exclusive Furniture grew, so did his father's wisdom. There were times Sam got frustrated with the furniture business and talked of quitting. Abdul Zavary wouldn’t let him.
“You can’t do that,” he said, Sam recalls. “Maybe a few years ago when it was just you and I, but now you’ve got employees and those employees have families. Whether you like it or not, this business is bigger than you.”
Sam Zavary wasn't entirely sure what his father meant. But with every new venture, he’s finding a new meaning. Zavary helped distribute clothes and mattresses to Houston residents after Hurricane Harvey, and Exclusive annually hosts the 12 Days of Christmas Furniture, furnishing 12 disadvantaged families' homes every December.
“It took me a while to figure out what he meant by the business being bigger than I’ll ever be,” Sam Zavary says of his father’s words. “But I see it now – and not in just one way. I’ll be driving down the road and I’ll hear what he meant in a completely different way. That’s what keeps me going. I’m excited about what we’re doing and how we’re impacting our community.”
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A feature about Home Furnishings Association's retail members, legislation affecting the furniture industry and other retail news from HFA.