By Dennis Seid
TUPELO – A 99-year-old Alabama furniture company won the 49th National Buyer Appreciation Award Thursday at the Tupelo Furniture Market.
Hainje Home Furnishers, with four stores, is a $5 million to $6 million retailer that has attended the Tupelo market since its start 26 years ago.
Company president Mark Godwin said Tupelo “has been our market.”
“We find the widest assortment of furniture here,” he said.
Hainje was started by John A. Hainje, who immigrated from Holland to the U.S. in 1902. He opened Hainje’s and Phillips Speciality Co. in Brewton, Ala. in September 1914, selling oil lamps, blankets and clothing on installments. In the 1920s, the store added phonographs and records.
A second store opened in 1922 in Greenville, Ala. Eight years later, the company was split, with Hainje receiving the Brewton and Greenville stores. In 1949, Hainje opened a third store in Monroeville, Ala., and a fourth store opened in Atmore, Ala., in 1992.
In 1993, the company became 100 percent employee owned.
Godwin said Tupelo has played a major role in the company’s success over the years.
“We offer good quality furniture at the right price for our customers, many of whom are second- and third-generation shoppers,” he said.
“They’ve come to expect that.”
Godwin said Hainje maintains close relationships with exhibitors at the market, many of whom have their manufacturing facilities in Northeast Mississippi.
“We know a lot of the owners and it’s good to have that kind of relationship,” he said.
V.M. Cleveland, the market’s Chairman and CEO, said it’s independent retailers like Hainje that have built the market.
“They’re the ones who helped grow this market and helped grow so many of the companies that show here,” he said. “Without them, the market wouldn’t exist, and we wanted to show our appreciation with this award. They’re very deserving.”