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Furniture Retail Tip #9 From Grandpa Mike-e-e! at 90 - "OOMPAH BAND'

Furniture World Magazine


Michael Greene (Grandpa Mike-e-e at 90)

The trouble with most group business meetings in our industry is that most of them end with, "It can't be done. No way." Not only is that short shrift announced, but it's sure to be followed-up with the classic "It hasn't been done before." So-o-o, something refreshing has a rare chance of being tried.

From my tiny viewpoint and semi-classic experience I think that each one of us has a sort of built-in, "Shadowy Being" in our makeup. The kind that they draw in classic cartoons that float around, whispering suggestions in our ear... urging us not to do something we never would do if "We were in our right mind", or to do it! 

"Shadowy Being"? Yes. The kind that furniture retailers are afraid of because when they grab for it, it slips between their fingers and fades into the personal atmosphere that surrounds them while awake.

In my own experience as a retailer, the "Shadowy Being" was there when I thought about increasing my selling prices. When I considered closing our stores evenings except on Tuesdays. When I pondered setting a Wednesday aside once every two months for "Customer Design Question Seminars" with one of our designers, at no charge, but with English tea and goodies. What would my "Shadowy Being" do? Would it say, "No Way!" or give the ideas a try. I was always trying to find out.

As kids, we were taught to believe that; French horns can only play oompha; only women can raise children properly; only men can drive trucks and be cops, and only individuals under 35 can "make" it.

None of the above are true. The simple truth is that you can take any one of the above and fashion it to fit a dream of your own.

My Bubbila and I were once invited to hear a group of musicians with French horns (a nifty instrument) play a smorgosbord of music including calypso, a collection of rock and boogie, Neil Diamond and a finale of "A Bicycle Built for Two."

Plus, with added guitars, out came a super rendition of old time "Sweet Caroline" that knocked the audience right off their no-cushioned, portable chairs. Oy! Vey!

And who pulled off this "Shadowy Being" event? A seasoned-teacher-horn player in his 60 's who dreamed what a traditional French horn player might do for an audience of over-70 seniors. It's all a question of doing what you can do with what you have.

The moral?

There's no problem playing oompah on French horns. It's warm, tried and true. And, if you have a dream, you can even play Neil Diamond compositions (as they do) for primary school children who have attention-span problems. Our brave, talented, music teacher decided to do it and did.

As a furniture store owner or manager, you too, are obligated to talk over your dreams for new avenues with your "Shadowy Being." Have a conversation, and don't give in to the other voices in your business meetings that hold fast to the status quo of tried and true and boring business practices. Listening to your "Shadowy Being" can  stir your happiness, stir your values a-n-d believe it or not, help you to be a more successful business person.

Thanks, again, for listening

Grandpa Mike-e-e! at 90

Got a question? Got a comment? Great!! E-mail: grandpamike-e-e!@furninfo.com

About Michael Greene (Grandpa Mike-e-e!)

Retailer, author, columnist, lecturer, composer and lyricist.

Came to US with immigrant parents in 1924 at the age of three.

Graduated high school at 16.

Managed a small bedding retail and manufacturing company at 18 in 1939.

Hired as Assistant to the VP of Purchasing (Sweets Corp. of America... approximately 500 employees) in 1940 at 19.

Drafted into US Army Signal Corp - Communications Personnel Div., Fort Monmouth.Tested and selected for Army Specialized Training Program, Rutgers University. Qualified for O.C.S. - Officer Candidate School and graduated as Second Lieutenant, Inventory/ Personnel Division in 1944 at 23.

Married his sweetheart, Anita, and he gives thanks to the Almighty that they are still sweethearts... after 73 years.

Rejoined Sweets Corp as Director of Personnel in 1945 at 24.

Joined his suddenly widowed sister as President of a small retail/ manufacturing company in 1946. Stayed on for 46 years managing the custom designing of over 20,000 childrens rooms and master bedroom beds.

Attended Hofstra University (evening program), and graduated in 1968 at age 47. Two of his kids followed right along at two other college campuses.

Applied for 30 day temporary columnist opening offered by the Reed Business Newspapers in NC and stayed on for 27 years. His retail columns were distributed everywhere from Brooklyn to Bangladesh, to Belgium to Beijing.

Traveled the US and visited with 3rd/ 4th generation retail owners.

He was admitted to the Writers Hall of Fame for, "Conspicuous Excellence In reports and appraisals of the furniture industry."

Retired from retail management at age 70.

BOOKS: (1) At age 72: published first book "Where's The Green Pea?" vegetable character stories including his original music and CD.

Designed programs for primary and pre-K schools and presented them with his Anita. (2) At age 76: Gee! I Wish I Had A Bedroom All My Own," lectured in middle schools (teenage), with tech info for parents, teachers and students in Home

Science. (3) At age 80: Tzedakah - Caring And Sharing classic book with original music CD and illustrations for high school chorales and drama groups.

At 89 -- published Retail Life: How To Get In, Stay Alive a-n-d Love It! in online and printed version for business schools, industry, and entrepreneurs. Includes how-to educational section for "Wise Women Who Love A Challenge" and "Oldtimer Retailers Who've Missed Some Basic Goodies In Business Promotion. Also provides business professors and career students seeking everyday practical trade experiences and business thinking.

Invited to address Levitz Furniture retail salespersons, Furniture Designer Associate members,

IHFRA sales associations, High Point University students and F.I.T. retailer evening sessions. Also accepted as an ASID associate member.

At 90 plus... is a musical playwright, composer and lyricist with original music and thinking for very young and very old America.

Grandpa Mike-e-e

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