Having spent most of my working life in retailing, I am hard to impress when I visit any retail venues that are new to me. I generally don’t like shopping or wandering through stores. However, while in Nebraska visiting family, Laurie and I felt that it was about time for us to finally visit one of the stores owned by the company where our daughter-in-law, Amy, is a key member of management.
Note: All the information about Nebraska
Furniture Mart that is contained in this post is the result of my own on-line
research and/or personal observation.
the main entrance to the Nebraska Furniture Mart (NFM) complex in Omaha
Nebraska. Despite only having 4
locations, Nebraska Furniture Mart is the largest home furnishings store in North
founding of NFM is truly a story of an immigrant’s impact and drive for success
in America. The Nebraska Furniture Mart
was founded in 1937 by Rose Blumkin aka. “Mrs. B”. Her motto was “Sell cheap and tell the truth.”
The complex map or floor plan gives you an idea about the size of the Omaha operation. Situated on 78 acres, the store itself has over 450,000 square feet of retail space. Add in the warehouse and office areas and the total comes to something over 1,100,000 square feet.
1893 as Rosa Gorelick, Mrs. B married Izya (Isadore) Blumkin. She and Isadore immigrated to the USA in 1917
when Rose was 24. In 1919 the Blumkin’s
moved to Omaha where they started a used clothing store. In 1937 when Mrs. B was in her 40s she opened
NFM in the basement of her husband’s store…with a $500 investment. In the beginning she sold used furniture. Early in NFM’s existence, the Blumkins had to
sell their own home furnishings to pay off a debt.
entering the store, we were overwhelmed by the size of the sales floor! It seemed to stretch on forever… In the
mid-90s NFM expanded adding a massive electronics and appliance store selling
computers, software, music, movies and other personal electronic items, plus of
course TVs, sound systems and a plethora of small and large appliances across
all price points. The TV section went on
forever…and it blew my mind!
The home product diversity at NFM goes on and on. There were lawn mowers of all types and price points, grilling and tailgating items, smartphones, video games, exercise equipment, cameras/camcorders, fountains, fire pits, toys, GPS/navigation, office electronics, drones/accessories, home automation and security…the list seems endless.
B was 89, she sold a majority interest in Nebraska Furniture Market to
Berkshire Hathaway. It was basically a
handshake deal with billionaire and fellow Omaha resident, Warren Buffett. Following the sale, Buffett was quoted as
saying, “Put her up against the top graduates of the top business schools or
chief executives of the Fortune 500 and, assuming an even start with the same
resources, she’s run rings around them.”
The Omaha NFM location houses over 85,000 furniture items, 185,000 appliance and electronic items and over a million square yards of carpet. Like the first floor of the main Omaha store, the furniture level stretches on for what seems like forever…
In the home furnishing section of the store, it was no surprise that variety is the name of the game. Of course there are couches…but there also are bar and rec room furnishings, office furniture, flooring/area rugs, vanities, fireplaces/accessories, gun safes, heating and cooling equipment…and more!
By this point in our tour, we were more than happy to sit down in recliners. That was where Laurie took this photo of our guide…and our son, David II. He was wearing us out, and he wasn’t done with the tour either! If I’d been in one of the massage chairs that NFM offers, the tour would have ended right there…
One last photo of some of the items included on the ‘furniture’ floor. Note the tables and chairs. There also is an expansive selection of lighting/ceiling fans plus china cabinets, pantries, baker’s racks, kitchen islands/carts, sideboards, buffets and dining sets and tables.
So…we left the main NFM store in Omaha…and David III led us to this ‘other’ store…Mrs. B’s Clearance and Factory Outlet. It turns out that in 1989, Mrs. B’s family had forced her to retire. She was 95! She wasn’t happy with retirement…and realizing that Warren Buffett hadn’t made her sign a non-compete agreement, only 3 months after retiring Mrs. B opened this store across the street from NFM! Within 3 years, her new store was profitable and was already the third largest carpet outlet in Omaha. A year later, Buffett bought the new store and merged it with the Mart. Mrs. B worked in the business until she was 103… She lived to be almost 105 years old. What a life!
Here is a view of the inside of Mrs. B’s Clearance and Outlet Store. Looking for a deal? This is the place to find them… There is more than 100,000 feet of retail space featuring furniture, over 100 mattresses, do-it-yourself flooring including over 300 rolls of carpet in stock, special purchases, seasonal items such as patio furniture…and more.
that I really appreciated were the sales people and other store personnel we
met. They were all very helpful, not
pushy and they expressed the fact that they really enjoyed working at NFM. They had no idea who we were or that our
daughter-in-law was an executive with the company…
addition to the Omaha location, Nebraska Furniture Mart has stores in Iowa,
Kansas City Kansas and a suburb of Dallas.
If I thought that this complex was big, consider the fact that the
Kansas City location has over 1,100,000 feet of retail and warehouse space on
88 acres while the newer Dallas area location features 560,000 square feet of
retail space and 1,300,000 square feet of warehouse/distribution space.
sales volume for Nebraska Furniture Mart was not something that I could easily
determine. One on-line site quoted over
$821,000,000 a year while Dunn and Bradstreet gave a number of over $1
billion. In either case, the company’s
sales volume exceeds what my former employer’s, (Montgomery Ward), hundreds of
store realized back in 2000 in the year before they/we went out of
business. Pretty impressive… Not bad
Mrs. B! Her grandsons currently serve as
Chairman and Vice Chairman of NFM.
To learn more about Nebraska Furniture Mart, you can go to the Company’s website at