Leadership stays in family at New York's Long's Bedding
David Perry -- Furniture Today, January 21, 2014
New York -
Bob Long and his daughter, Terri Long, are business partners at Long’s Bedding. "There's a new sheriff in town," 50-year bedding veteran Bob Long proclaimed the other day.
Long's Bedding, a bedding independent and a hallmark of mattress retailing in the Big Apple for more than a century, is now operated by Bob's daughter, Terri.
"Dad is still my business partner, whether he likes it or not," Terri Long said, laughing. While her top management role is new, Terri is a familiar face at Long's. She's the fourth generation of the founding Long family to work at the retailer, at 121 W. 72nd St. in an upscale neighborhood. She's been working there since 1997, doing "a lot of everything."
Now she heads a mattress retailer in a world dominated by male executives. "I sometimes wonder if people believe me when I say I am the owner," she confessed.
Is it an advantage for a woman to sell to other women, bedding's traditional customers? Terri Long isn't so sure. "It depends on the individual," she said. "Every sale and interaction is different."
But she does believe it's an advantage to be a mother.
"I deal with a lot of personalities," she said. "Becoming a parent gave me patience I wouldn't have had. You do need patience in this job. You have to listen and get to the crux of the issue. You have to figure out what type of bed the customer is looking for."
While some customers still say they want a firm mattress, "New Yorkers have gotten over the ‘firmer is better' notion," Terri Long said. Plusher feels are now favored.
Long's has found success in New York by celebrating an independent spirit. Its key mattress vendors, including Aireloom, OMI, Gold Bond, Therapedic and Relyon, are operated by likeminded bedding entrepreneurs, the company says.
"We all march to our own drumbeats," said Judie Long, Bob's wife, who remains active in the company. "You have to know your customers and you don't forget your customers."
While most bedding retailers focus on single-sided beds, Long's business is about evenly divided between one- and two-sided models. "When we can, we try to get two sided mattresses," Terri Long said. "We think it's good to flip and turn mattresses."
Long's stands apart from its competition by focusing on lines not carried by other sleep shops in the area.
"We have a unique story," Terri said. "We like to carry unique products."
She cited the OMI line of organic bedding, which features latex designs in slimmer silhouettes than other lines on the market.
"New Yorkers are interested in natural products," she said. "Parents are interested in them for their children. It comes up all the time."
Aireloom makes "the finest bedding around" and has been a supplier to Long's for many years, Terri said, praising the company's craftsmanship and quality.
Therapedic licensee Stuart Carlitz supplies innerspring and latex beds, boosting the company's latex offerings; all told eight latex beds are on the floor.
And Gold Bond supplies a one-sided Manhattan bedding line, a private-label offering for Long's that includes micro-coils and latex.
Most of the innerspring beds at Long's utilize encased coils, which Terri Long says reduce motion transfer.
Long's likes buying from companies whose owners actively run the businesses. "We have a real similarity with them, and they have a similarity with us," Terri said. "There is also a loyalty that we share with them."
The walls of the company's showroom are a testament to the many customers the retailer has served over the years. They are filled with pictures of famous customers, some still recognizable today, others not. John Lennon, Mick Jagger and John Kennedy are on the list.
But the most important customer, Terri pointed out, is the next one.
Organic beds by OMI are featured on the floor at Long’s Bedding.
This is part of the Manhattan Collection, made for Long’s by Gold Bond.
Pictures of celebrities who have shopped at Long’s Bedding adorn the retailer’s walls.
The foot protectors at Long’s Bedding tell a story of more than a century of service to New Yorkers.
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