By Dennis Seid
TUPELO – Affordable Home Furnishings got its start the same year the Tupelo Furniture Market began bestowing its twice-yearly National Buyer Appreciation Award.
So it was only fitting that the 50th presentation of the honor was given Thursday to Affordable as the company celebrates its silver anniversary.
“The market’s been here 27 years and we’ve been here for 25 of them,” said General Manager Bert Landry. “This is truly an honor. … this is the one market for us that fits our business.”
And Affordable is a big business. The Lafayette, La.-based company has 32 stores spread across its home state, plus Texas and Louisiana. With a rent-to-own and retail sales business model, Affordable has been a steady, frequent customer at the market and its exhibitors.
“I try to visit as many as I possibly can, probably 75 to 100,” Landry said. “We probably do business with half of them.”
Landry doesn’t shop the market himself, bringing other store officials with him, like Joey Thompson and Mike Hebert. They joined him on the podium Thursday to accept the award.
They’ve been shopping the market for new and different products, especially with color.
“Customers are definitely looking for color,” Thompson said. “In the past it’s been lots of browns, but we’ve seen a lot of things that are different that we think we can bring to our stores, get them on the floor and see how they do.”
The company was founded by Chris and Staci Overton in 1980, and Affordable is the largest locally owned rent-to-own company in the South and employs more than 300 people. In addition to furniture, the stores also carry appliances, electronics and computers.
Through the last quarter-century, Affordable has been able to find 80 percent of its vendors in Tupelo, a relationship that has paid dividends for many.
“We’ve gotten a lot of trucks delivered from Northeast Mississippi to south Louisiana,” Landry said.
Added Tupelo Furniture Market Chairman and CEO V.M. Cleveland, “It’s been a great partnership, and they’ve been a loyal, valuable friend of the market and our vendors here. They certainly deserve the award.”