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It’s not about how advanced you are, success depends on how well you connect with customers. It’s the legacy of Bernie Moray.

Content about HFA member-retailers contributed by HFA.

Do you feel at times like our home furnishings world is progressing ahead at light speed? Digital technology advances have transformed our industry over the last few years, customer buying habits and their discretionary income are evolving, and COVID has been a force driving change through adversity. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up or even slow down to understand where we are and where we’re heading. Let’s catch our breath for a moment.

As you know, our industry is built on family-owned businesses. No matter how ways of doing business have changed, or how fast everything has progressed, we all benefit from the example of some incredible businessmen and women who established what home furnishings retail is. One of those pioneers was Bernie Moray. He passed away last month, not long after his 100th birthday.

This is not an obituary or a eulogy. Instead, Moray’s death gives us a chance to step off the roller coaster for a moment to see how much of our heritage and history we still carry with us and why it is essential.

If you don’t already, you need to know that Bernie Moray got into furniture retail back in 1949 and purchased the Detroit-based Gorman’s in 1965. He was a former president of HFA’s Board 30 years ago. Just five years ago, he was inducted into the American Furniture Hall of Fame.

How was he the epitome of the uniqueness of our home furnishings industry? Dennis Novosel, also a past board president, tells me, “Bernie is an example of our collegial spirit. He showed me how competitors can still share and be friendly. Bernie taught me a lot about how to treat people and interact. He was all about community.”

A Pillar at HFA

Community is a pillar at HFA. Bringing retailers together was a founding principle when the association was established a little more than 100 years ago, just a year or so before Bernie was born.

Bernie Moray’s attention to community is one of the ways he built a great business that lives on today. Novosel calls that amazing. “He was huge for his community in Detroit. When you look back at his record, you see how Gorman’s was involved in arts and charities. He hosted events at his store to help people and the community, which is a differentiator.”

Funny, isn’t it. Despite all our advancements, I keep hearing from our members how basic good customer service and business practices differentiate one retailer from the next. Not how advanced they are, rather how connected they are to the people they sell to. Never have those nuances—those littles things—been bigger. That’s true for our members and our organization.

Thanks for the reminder, Bernie. We are all standing on your shoulders and reaching higher.

For more information, visit https://myhfa.org/.

A  feature about Home Furnishings Association's retail members, legislation affecting the furniture industry and other retail news from HFA.