It was the depths of the Great Depression and the owners would allow customers to purchase items on credit held by the store. Each week they’d go back to collect perhaps a dollar, explains Kalamaras. The formula worked and the company still takes pride in holding their own credit, which allows them to work closely with their customers to meet specific needs.
While the Internet and other factors have changed some aspects of doing business, Mr. Kalamaras says the relationships they build with their customers remain a key to their success.
“When you make someone happy, they’re going to come back and shop with you,” he says. “Our biggest asset is our employees, who work to find out what a customer really needs and not just to make a sale.” Jimmy and Elizabeth, who serves as vice president, are third generation owners. In 1955, Curtis Larmon, Elizabeth’s father, joined his father, Rubel, in the business after Mr. Friday’s death, and changed the name to Larmon Furniture. In 1966, Curtis purchased the store upon his father’s retirement. In 1992, when Curtis retired, he in turn sold the store to Jimmy and Elizabeth.
The original 4,000 square foot showroom was expanded three times and reached its current 20,000 square feet in 1978. The coup l e e x p a n d e d t o Town ‘n‘ Country with a second location of 10,000 square feet. They offer such brands as Bassett and Ashley. “We are your traditional American family who works in their business trying to do the best that we can,” says Mr. Kalamaras. “We’re in this for the long haul.”
Part of that haul includes being committed to their community. The family founded the annual Larmon Furniture Golf Tournament in 1993 to benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs. They also support numerous other causes in the Tampa community.
“The Florida Retail Federation is always looking to protect the mom and pop stores,” says Mr. Kalamaras, whose company has been a member since 1999. “We’re just trying to run our businesses, and the Florida Retail Federation keeps us abreast of the issues at the state level. For that we are grateful!”
“Leadership is what you do by making good decisions for the next generation,” says Kalamaras. “We are positioning our business for the fourth generation.”