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Chuck, The Bedmaster
Chuck Limberopoulos was a giant of a man. He stood 6 feet 2 inches tall and tipped the scales at about 300 pounds. He was a big Greek with a fondness for horribly foul cigars and ouzo. Chuck could be volatile (not often) or he could be the most charming person in whatever room he seemed to captivate (very often). Those who knew him or worked with him in the bedding industry will most assuredly remember him with great affection.
Chuck was my bedding buyer when I was the merchandise manager of furniture, bedding, lamps/accessories and area rugs for Maas Brothers/Jordan Marsh, a large chain of department stores in Florida owned by Allied Stores. This was in the 1980's at a time that department stores did a huge volume in mattresses; it was before the advent of specialty bedding retailers. Chuck was one of a handful of premier bedding buyers in the country. He had forgotten more about the mattress commodity than I would ever know. As odd as it may sound inasmuch as I was his boss, Chuck became a mentor of sorts to me. I, like a lot of folks loved, admired, and had great respect for the guy and after a rocky start we became fast friends until his death. He taught me so much about merchandising and marketing in general, the mattress business in particular, and about life.
One of the lessons he taught me about bedding is still completely valid to this day. It is something I never really thought much about. Bedding, to a great degree, is an impulse item unlike other furniture commodities. People will often wake up after a fitful night's sleep and the notion will pop into their minds, "I need a new bed." With a sofa or dining room set people often plan for it, decorate around it or otherwise leisurely shop until they find just the right one. With bedding, when the idea hits, consumers tend to want one...now. Often they go out to buy a new bed and complete their mission in just a few days. The reason, he explained, that this distinction is important is that in promoting the commodity, the promotional plan must, above all, be consistent and frequent. Bedding marketing must be in front of the consumer's face continually so that when the notion to buy does arise, the potential customer will automatically think of that retailer to buy from, or at least to visit and shop. He believed that timing was everything and when the consumer made up his/her mind to buy a new bed, the retailer's message must be out there so as not to miss the opportunity to sell a bed to that customer.
To this day I think of Chuck often; when he laughed his entire body shook and laughed with him. His walk was like a rumble and a quake. If someone asked who my most unforgettable person was, Chuck would undoubtedly be way up there on the list. I am so glad he was. He had so much to teach, and I had so much to learn.