WINDSOR, Ontario — Typically, March is one of the slower months on the furniture retail calendar.
But for Canadian home furnishings retailer Tepperman’s, it’s THE month. For years, the Windsor, Ontario-based retailer has had its biggest sale of the year — and its biggest sales of the year — in sleepy March.
So why March? Andrew Tepperman, third generation president of the 12-store, family-owned chain, has some ideas. “March 31 is the end of our fiscal year, and April 1 is the beginning of a new fiscal year. All we could think of was my grandfather, who started the business, wanted to finish the fiscal year on a high note.”
Since it’s the biggest sale of the year, the retailer goes all out. Tepperman’s 98th Anniversary Sale, a five-week celebration in honor of nearly 10 decades in business, is the retailer’s premier event of the year. To mark the occasion, Tepperman’s mails a 32-page catalog to homes in Windsor, Chatham, Sarnia, London, Kitchener-Waterloo and Ancaster/Hamilton. One lucky customer will also win a $1,000 gift via the Spring Refresh giveaway detailed on page 32.
“March is an atypical month to have your ‘Super Bowl’ of promotions, but it’s historically been our Super Bowl. We’re going to continue to keep growing it every year,” Tepperman said.
And while Tepperman’s celebrates 98 years in business this year, Tepperman said he’s well aware that there’s a big anniversary just around the corner and made the company’s latest 10-year vision plan coincide with the 100th anniversary. To put it together, he and his brother, Noah, visited Ann Arbor, Mich.’s Zingerman’s Deli and its owner, Ari Weinzweig, who he labeled a genius when it comes to helping companies with implementing visions.
“We’re in year eight in this vision, and we haven’t changed a single word,” he said. “It gets everybody aligned on everything, not just profitability but community partnerships, sustainability, the educational component of the business and developing internal people. It’s more of a purpose in what we’re doing. I think that resonates more in the small and medium-sized communities we’re in.
“In our markets, we have a really good brand name and reputation, and communities see how involved we are. It pays off.”
Tepperman said resonating in those small and medium-sized communities goes back to the brand identity established by his grandfather, Nate Tepperman, and continued by his father, Bill Tepperman. He pointed to things Tepperman’s does to help in its communities as well as its in-house financing operations, which he said gives it more flexibility to accommodate its customers.
“I’d like to say we have the same values and guiding principles my grandfather had,” Tepperman said. “The business has changed quite a bit, and he would have no idea what we’re doing with marketing and things like that, but the customers we attract and the people we employ are pretty consistent.
“The way my grandfather started in 1925, he was an immigrant with no money, but he had that entrepreneur mindset. He started going house to house, knocking on doors selling rugs and towels. He would leave the product at the house and each week collect a nickel,” he continued.
“Today, we still operate a huge in-house financing business. It has created a different connection with the customer. When they get in trouble, we try to work with them and it allowed us to grow the sale and increase add-ons that come with the ability to spend more.”