It’s the stories of our industry that this installment from Grandpa Mike-e-e! at 90 is all about. Every furniture rep, manufacturer and retailer has a few really good ones... and there is now an official effort by our industry's historical society to record these stories, before all of us industry elders forget them! More about this later.
Which inexplicably brings me to my Bubbila. You probably remember reading about her if you’ve seen my weekly column online in Furniture World’s weekly e-newsmagazine. She’s sharp as a tack at ninety, and just found a source of ancient music on the internet that's so "new" that she's glued to the sound for twelve hours a day. Yes, she is listening to music uninterrupted by those annoying repetitive commercials that are always advising us to please visit a doctor to get a new "miracle" drug that incidentally may cause headache, red eye, wheezing, boils and rarely, sudden death! Now what has this girl of mine found for the two of us to see and hear? YouTube videos featuring "Singers and Swing" - singing guys and gals like Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Doris Day, Mel Torme and Tony Bennett who left his Heart in San Francisco because Frank Sinatra had already left his in " Chicago! Chicago! and New York, New York" which is "A Wonderful Town."
So what does all this musical nostalgic goulash have to do with the furniture industry or remembering stories? Well, I'll tell you.
Years ago when I was sipping a Pepsi at the High Point Market, I, Grandpa Mike e-e! saw t-h-e Tony Bennett in the Furniture Exposition Building, all by himself. Yep! All by his pleasant self without the usual star, personality entourage! Just plain Tony. Wow-e-e!
It seems he was invited to sing at a private dinner in the building for the guests of a well-known manufacturer. A-n-d, when I introduced myself, he invited me to visit with him during his performance break. When I showed up that evening, the guard posted at the door told me that Mr. Bennett had left word that I was to be expected. Gee! Whiz!
Well, I stayed for my Pepsi drink and when we met the following day, by appointment, I spent a few very unique, pleasant hours showing Tony around the show.
I discovered that Mr. Bennett was a well-known name in Arts circles since he was a talented, recognized, oil painting, artist... at $3,000 a canvas. Wow-e-e! again! We did the tour and he was visibly pleased with what he saw us do at a Market.
I always knew that Tony Bennett was a talented personality, but then I learned that the reason why his singing is so meaningful is because his voice is the voice of a mensch. A mensch with heart. He never needed the hullabaloo of a paid entourage.
That's just one story, but like I said before, there are so many good ones about our industry that are much more interesting, historically significant, maybe a bit off-color and certainly funny. We've all heard them... about deals that were made, the proverbial skeletons in the furniture family closets, plus stories of first meetings, misunderstandings, fantastic collaborative ideas and things that used to happen in our industry that seem incredible when we look back.
HAVE A FURNITURE STORY TO TELL?
Do you have a great or even a not so great furniture story to tell? Has a rep who has called on your store since the ice age told you the same story over and over and you still find it interesting?
If so, check out the website of the American Furniture Hall of Fame Foundation at http://www.furniturehalloffame.com/furniture_history_stories.asp. I hear that the Foundation is collecting and cataloging the stories of our industry. Or maybe your favorite rep, mother, father or grandfather in the business would like to submit their furniture stories to the Foundation website for the next generation to enjoy. Or for those of you that are better at talking than writing, send a recording to the Foundation at 202 Neal Place, High Point, North Carolina 27262 or call Karen McNeill the CEO of the Foundation at 336.882.5900 for more information.
And -- if you think of it, please send a copy to me. My email address is listed below. Thanks, again, for listening.
Michael Green a.k.a. Grandpa Mike-e-e! at 90 is a former furniture retailer, author, playwright and past contributor to a well known furniture news publication. He currently writes a weekly column for Furniture World’s e-newsmagazine (subscribe by going to www.furninfo.com). Got a question? Got a comment? Great!! E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org And, see the new YouTube music video staring Grandpa Mike-e-e! with his granddaughter Becca in a supporting role at http://bitly.com/qALkrX.