It was a sad day at Furniture World magazine when Thelma Mason, my friend and Furniture World’s Vice President of Sales passed away.
Thelma was hired in 1954 by our publisher Sandy Bienenstock to sell advertising space in six New England States. Her clients included famous furniture names such as Temple Stuart, Heywood-Wakefield, S. Bent, Sprague and Carleton, and Nichols and Stone.
Over the course of her 62-year career, Thelma earned the respect of three generations of Furniture World advertisers. She was a tough furniture industry trailblazer at a time when few women worked outside the home as traveling salespeople. Thelma was an icon of persistence, likability and humility.
These traits allowed her to drive 60,000 miles each year through harsh New England and Canadian winters, visiting clients and prospects unannounced without EVER, to my knowledge, making an appointment. I don’t know anyone else who could have done that, then or now.
There are stories of her arriving at factories before 7AM to “cheerfully ambush” company presidents when they arrived for work.
I believe that on more than one occasion she came armed with a fresh baked pie to make sure she made just the right impression.
She would drive 300 miles just to say a quick hello to a customer or prospect, drop off sales materials, then move on to the next.
I don’t believe she ever gave up on a potential client even after 60 years of trying. There was no one like her!
Thelma attended furniture shows through her 87th birthday and will be missed.
Russell Bienenstock is Editor-in-Chief of Furniture World Magazine, founded 1870. Comments can be directed to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.