By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Since 1989, the Tupelo Furniture Market has given the National Buyer Appreciation Award at each of its biannual markets.
Until Friday, only two of the previous 42 winners hailed from Mississippi.
But Baber’s Inc. became the third Magnolia State winner, getting the coveted award in front of hundreds of attendees at Friday night ceremony at the market.
The Pascagoula-based rent-to-own retailer was founded in 1959. It now has 51 stores in five southeastern states.
Baber’s has sent buyers to Tupelo since the first market in 1988 and company officials say it has been an important part of their growth and success.
“The Tupelo Furniture Market has been a partner,” said Baber’s President Shannon Strunk. “It’s part of why we’re here. We’ve developed a relationship with many of the companies here. We got a lot of our ideas in the beginning from people at the market.”
Now in its third generation as a family business, Baber’s also has other retail operations, including nine Rent-n-Roll wheel and tire stores and two Furnish 1-2-3 furniture stores.
But the bread-and-butter of the company is its namesake stores, which has gotten much of its inventory through the years at the Tupelo Furniture Market.
“Tupelo has grown with us,” said CEO Cynthia Baber-Strunk. “We are a Mississippi company and we’re just very honored to be here.”
Sheldon Strunk is the chief buyer for the company and lauded Tupelo.
“We’ve been coming here for 22 years, and it’s a very easy market to work,” he said.
While it’s known for its promotional furniture offerings, the market also offers more for buyers and retailers, Shannon Strunk said.
“Customers want to have the things they see everyone else have, and we can get those products in Tupelo,” he said.
“Baber’s has been very good to us,” said TFM owner and CEO V.M. Cleveland. “We’ve kind of grown together, and it was really a no-brainer to select them as the award winner.”
Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.