Who Ya Gonna Call?
Decades-old local family businesses have been saving my butt lately.
Having just moved into a new house (the day before Ida hit actually; our timing is impeccable) and with a new baby scheduled to appear sometime this month, it feels like we’ve been doing nothing but making purchases for months now. But while we’ve certainly spent a fair amount on Amazon, we’ve run into a few challenges that it turns out could only be solved by looking local.
(Note: I don’t usually give a personal shoutout to specific businesses in my ed note, but since this is our family business issue, I can’t help myself this time.)
The first issue that needed solving was our side door. It’s ugly and old and in bad shape. We knew that when we bought our 1913 house. Simple fix though, right? Just get a new door at Lowe’s. Nope! Turns out it’s a weird size that was common 100 years ago, but not so much now. Faced with spending thousands on a custom door, I pinned all my hopes on a 49-year-old family business just off Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard called The Bank Architectural Antiques. Within a half hour, I was guided through 48,000 square feet of architectural salvage to a door that they could fix up to fit my needs perfectly, and for just a few hundred dollars! And hey! Would I like a window in that door? No problem. They would just send it over to another family-owned business down the street, Haro Glass and Mirror Works — a custom glass and mirror shop operating since 1954 — who could create whatever I wanted. Jackpot!
That problem solved, we went looking for a chair for the new family member — one that would do it all: glide, recline and swivel. I’m a picky furniture buyer, so there was no way I was buying a chair without sitting in it, which meant online options were out. Unfortunately, however, with all the supply chain issues right now, after a full weekend of furniture shopping it seemed finding our dream chair in stock was not in the cards. Great, a parenting fail already.
In a last-ditch effort, we made our first trip to Hurwitz Mintz Furniture. A family-owned business for 98 years that promotes itself as the “South’s largest furniture store,” the Airline Highway store’s 125,000 square feet did not disappoint. Four days later, a chair that ticked all our boxes was sitting in the living room.
Our experiences with all three of these businesses was marked by amazing customer service, but more than that, it felt good to spend our money with them, to be supporting the continuation of a dream that, in these three cases, started way before we were born and is still going strong, and all right in our own backyard.
According to our cover story Q&A with Rosalind Butler, director of Tulane University’s Family Business Center, family businesses are in a good position in today’s challenging economy due in part to their tendency to be able to pivot quicker and the fact they’re less likely to take on debt, and less likely to have layoffs.
As someone who has become an even bigger fan of local family businesses as of late, I’m happy to hear it. Long live our family businesses!
Kimberley Singletary, Managing Editor