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Furniture Retail Tip #8 From Grandpa Mike-e-e! at 90 - Why Should Furniture Retailers Support Local Arts & Music Education?

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Michael Greene (Grandpa Mike-e-e at 90)

I've never had the exciting good fortune of having a close friend or relative who breathes twenty-four hours a day and night on Wall Street and can arrange for me and my Bubbila to receive stock dividends in the mail. I'm an outcast and I guess that's why strangers are always whispering around me and pointing fingers.

However, we do receive dividends of a different sort that don't arrive in the mail. From bonds? Never. From a bank? Sorta. From insurance? Nope. From e-mail? Uh-Uh. From grandchildren? Absolutely! Yes! Yes! Yes! And they don't arrive in small envelopes but do arrive wrapped in "I Love My Grandma n'Grandpa" sweatshirts accompanied by tight squeezes and warm hugs!

One of these dividend, warm huggers, Beck by name, played a trumpet in the fourth grade with a dozen other female musicians at her public school. Oh! yes! I know. In that time period the only woman that dared play a trumpet was the one in the burlesque scene of the musical "Gypsy."

All this trumpeting was about 15 years ago and, unfortunately, that poor child, who was just designated a Phi Beta Kappa college graduate at Maryland, has picked up some of her grandparents' genes and "applies Improv techniques in building communication and management skills in corporations." (Wow-e-e-e!)

I'm sure a bunch of you gals and guys know what I'm yakking about, since you, too, have collected such family dividends, that result from our children and grandchildren having an adequate arts and music education. They benefited from the discipline such an education provides, by learning to appreciate the arts, to practice; to be on time; to recognize teamwork; and to follow idea instructions.

All of which brings me to our industry that focuses on the creation and sale of beautiful objects for the home. And  because we deal in creativity and beauty, we have an extra responsibility to bolster our schools' mission when their art budgets are threatened with extinction... as they are these days. A world without art, music, dance and theater would be an empty shell. A no flavor vacuum that would spell disaster for furniture retailers who need creative employees who can not only design, sell and deliver beautiful rooms full of furniture, but must be disciplined and focused on the "music" our stores are playing.

I'm sure that most of our interior environment children do not attend an impoverished inner-city school. However, they still suffer the after-­effects of budget blockout or severe slicing: Like noisy fans in the auditoriums that stir up sweaty air during a performance. Like basic sound equipment that is so basic that the teacher/director doesn't know it just went dead in the second act of the performance. Tough stuff that you and your business can easily fix with just a little interest and a little pocket change!

So you moan: Grandpa, do kids have to learn to play a trumpet these days as preparation for our new-world of no-space-walking and computer hackers? Nope. But does our industry need the next generation of design professionals and furniture buying customers to have basic skills, including arts and music education? I believe that they do.  Because all the ingredients of care that help form a musician, also go towards forming a quality employee who can appreciate beauty. One who will report on time. One who will appreciate and understand the value of his/her part on a production team.

One wrong toot on a trumpet; or one wrong line in a play; or one tripped up step in a dance number and poof! There goes the team.

How come? Because in the arts, like in business, a single part is bigger than the whole. Who said it? Grandpa Mike-e-e!

Thanks, again, for listening.
Grandpa Mike-e-e! at 90

Got a question? Got a comment? Great!! E-mail: grandpamike-e-e!@furninfo.com

About Michael Greene (Grandpa Mike-e-e!)

Retailer, author, columnist, lecturer, composer and lyricist.

Came to US with immigrant parents in 1924 at the age of three.

Graduated high school at 16.

Managed a small bedding retail and manufacturing company at 18 in 1939.

Hired as Assistant to the VP of Purchasing (Sweets Corp. of America... approximately 500 employees) in 1940 at 19.

Drafted into US Army Signal Corp - Communications Personnel Div., Fort Monmouth.Tested and selected for Army Specialized Training Program, Rutgers University. Qualified for O.C.S. - Officer Candidate School and graduated as Second Lieutenant, Inventory/ Personnel Division in 1944 at 23.

Married his sweetheart, Anita, and he gives thanks to the Almighty that they are still sweethearts... after 73 years.

Rejoined Sweets Corp as Director of Personnel in 1945 at 24.

Joined his suddenly widowed sister as President of a small retail/ manufacturing company in 1946. Stayed on for 46 years managing the custom designing of over 20,000 childrens rooms and master bedroom beds.

Attended Hofstra University (evening program), and graduated in 1968 at age 47. Two of his kids followed right along at two other college campuses.

Applied for 30 day temporary columnist opening offered by the Reed Business Newspapers in NC and stayed on for 27 years. His retail columns were distributed everywhere from Brooklyn to Bangladesh, to Belgium to Beijing.

Traveled the US and visited with 3rd/ 4th generation retail owners.

He was admitted to the Writers Hall of Fame for, "Conspicuous Excellence In reports and appraisals of the furniture industry."

Retired from retail management at age 70.

BOOKS: (1) At age 72: published first book "Where's The Green Pea?" vegetable character stories including his original music and CD.

Designed programs for primary and pre-K schools and presented them with his Anita. (2) At age 76: Gee! I Wish I Had A Bedroom All My Own," lectured in middle schools (teenage), with tech info for parents, teachers and students in Home

Science. (3) At age 80: Tzedakah - Caring And Sharing classic book with original music CD and illustrations for high school chorales and drama groups.

At 89 -- published Retail Life: How To Get In, Stay Alive a-n-d Love It! in online and printed version for business schools, industry, and entrepreneurs. Includes how-to educational section for "Wise Women Who Love A Challenge" and "Oldtimer Retailers Who've Missed Some Basic Goodies In Business Promotion. Also provides business professors and career students seeking everyday practical trade experiences and business thinking.

Invited to address Levitz Furniture retail salespersons, Furniture Designer Associate members,

IHFRA sales associations, High Point University students and F.I.T. retailer evening sessions. Also accepted as an ASID associate member.

At 90 plus... is a musical playwright, composer and lyricist with original music and thinking for very young and very old America.

Grandpa Mike-e-e

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