That’s right, it’s time to celebrate. A decade has passed since the Omaha based retailer took Kansas City by storm, laying waste – some would suggest – to any number of local furniture and electronics retailers in its quest to own the market.
“How many mom and pop stores have they eliminated from the area?” wonders A-V Design Studio‘s Jan Young. “Furniture stores in particular. One of my favorite stores was Contemporary Concepts on 119th Street. You know, they closed their doors several years ago. And how many audio-video stores disappeared in that first two or three year period. There was Audio Mart, that closed. Continental Video closed. Brandsmart closed.
“I don’t know this for a fact, that they did come into the market with every intention of being the most competitive in price and once they’d eliminated their competition, to slowly raise their prices. But I think it worked; I think they were successful in that strategy.”
Kief’s Audio Video installation manager Mike Wagner concurs:
“They came right in our front door and tried to recruit me and made the statement that, ‘We’re going to shut everybody else down,’ which I thought was a bold move,” Wagner says. “I’ve been recruited before by like Best Buy and that kind of thing, but they didn’t come right into the store. And they didn’t tell me they were going to shut us down.
“I mean, they definitely did shut a lot of places down. I just thought it was a crass thing to do. Pretty ballsy.”
Return with me now to that first birthday following Nebraska’s entry arrival.
“Another furniture store biting the dust,” reads one 2004 headline referencing NFM atop my column in the Kansas City Star. “Competition pulls plug on Brandsmart,” reads another. And in a 2005 story about Accent Sound I noted that audio and video dealers in KC had been “dropping like flies.”
At which point a funny thing happened.
The top brass from Nebraska – a huge advertiser at the Star – showed up at the newspaper for an up close and personal with editor Mark Zieman. My editor in the FYI, section head Mary Lou Nolan was called into the meeting and afterwards I was told there would be no more unflattering stories about Nebraska in my column.
Funny how that worked.
Anyway, on behalf of both the survivors and the fallen, I’d like to wish Nebraska Furniture Mart a very happy 10th birthday.