Content about HFA member-retailers contributed by HFA.
HFA member sells furniture, offers wisdom on the side
Most people experience epiphanies later in life. Duana Palmer’s came to her when she was 10 years old.
HFA member Duana Palmer used to work as a credit counselor, a job she still takes on as the owner of Tallahassee Discount Furniture in Florida.
Palmer grew up poor with a mother who drank a lot. “I remember it wasn’t a life I wanted anyone else to live so I made a promise or a goal to myself that day,” she recalls. “I told myself I was going to be a millionaire by the time I was 45 and I was going to help other people realize that they were important, too.”
She’s still working on that first million, but is years ahead of her goal of helping people throughout northwest Florida realize their worth.
“I guess I really was born to help people because that’s what I think I’m doing,” she said. “I mean, of course, I’m selling furniture to them, but I think I’m helping make them more credit savvy along the way.”
Palmer’s venture into furniture is only 11 years old. Before that she owned real estate and worked as a credit counselor selling new, discontinued mattresses to her credit customers out of a storage facility. She was so successful, she added furniture. And when the furniture started selling, she decided to make a go of it full-time. She got a good deal at a mall in Tallahassee next to a Barnes & Noble and Tallahassee Discount Furniture was born.
“It was hard for a furniture store to be in a mall—but I didn’t need to be a destination,” says Palmer. “The traffic from people coming or going to the bookstore was more than enough.”
Eventually Palmer was forced out when the mall closed. She re-opened on the south side of town where she still doles out advice to would-be customers—many of whom are buying furniture for the first time or are using tertiary financing because their credit is damaged.
Palmer will sell them furniture using any of the financing programs the HFA offers, but she also counsels them before they sign their name to a deal. “I want them to know that they should always try to pay everything off in that first 100 days if possible because the interest will kill them,” she says.
Sometimes that honest, open way of doing business costs Palmer. “I’ve had $5,000 sales end up being $1,000 or $1,500 because they see they might be getting in over their head,” she said. “That’s money out of my pocket, but I sleep a lot better at night.”
Palmer enjoys selling furniture. She likes coming into work knowing that every day she’ll be helping someone solve a problem they have at home. Often that problem is furnishing a room. “Sometimes people just want to talk,” she noted. “They want someone to hear their problems. I don’t mind being that person.”
At 68, Palmer is at an age where most people are winding down their careers and looking forward to retirement. She says she would like to slow down selling furniture—but only so that she can devote more time to her latest venture, a one-stop website for customers to save money on anything from healthcare to auto insurance to veterinary services and more. In keeping with her nature, the company, Safeguard Select, is about helping others.
“That’s who I am,” she says. “Some people go their whole life not knowing who they are or what their gift is. “I’m thankful I found out at such an early age.”
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