By Andy Kriege, YSN
Jeff Smith and his wife Loretta recently dove back into the family business following the passing of his father Marty in August.
The store has been in operation for nearly 80 years since Jeff’s grandfather, E.B. Smith, first opened shop in 1943. Jeff and Loretta are joining several other Smith family members in rebranding and relaunching the iconic community retailer.
The Lawrenceville, Ill.-based business originally sold International Harvester machinery and appliances (yes, IH had a line of refrigeration!), along with tires. The business now carries appliances, furniture, bedding and electronics.
Jeff worked in and out of the store for a number of years in his younger days before moving with Loretta to Charlotte, N.C., in pursuit of other business interests. When his father passed this summer, they saw an opportunity to breathe new life into a business that had plodded along for years and needed an influx of new ideas and energy. Joining BrandSource was a key to that strategy, and the Smith family is very excited to be a part of the group and to implement an array of new digital tools to jumpstart the store.
Presently, the Smiths are in the process of rebranding the shop as a family-owned business with a focus on serving their community. Their previous group affiliation placed them in a cluster of stores that made it hard to stand out and market exclusively to customers within their local market.
Establishing a bond between the store and the community is very important to the new management team. “We want people to really feel at home in our store,” said Loretta. “We want to create an above-and-beyond experience for every single customer, really make them feel important and connected.”
Smith Sales is also getting the staff more involved as well. “We are getting much more input from our team,” she added. “We really want them to buy into what we are doing. They have been great.”
The new affiliation with BrandSource has also had an impact. “Everyone at BrandSource has been so very helpful,” Loretta noted. “We had a lot to digest, but we have had an outpouring of support from the BrandSource team and our staff as well as the community. We are very grateful.”
Husband Jeff concurred. “Jumping back into the family business was not something we needed to do, but we sure are having a lot of fun doing it,” he said. “I’m always up for a challenge. Breathing new life and energy into a family business is very rewarding. I’m excited about it.”
BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, mattress, furniture and CE dealers.