HAMLET — Humility, stewardship, relationships and graciousness are four adjectives that describe Allen Jordan and his business, Bobby’s Furniture.
A pillar of Richmond County business, Allen Jordan announced last week that he will be closing the store permanently on Friday, June 16 after 59 years in business.
The company has served the county with stores in both Rockingham and in Hamlet. The founder and namesake, Bobby Jordan, passed away in 2015. The remaining store in Hamlet is managed by his son Allen and daughter-in-law Cindy.
April 2, 1964 was the opening day of Bobby’s Furniture.
“Daddy started in Rockingham on the Highway 74 bypass with a big store and no furniture,” said Allen Jordan. “He said that he didn’t know how he was going to fill up that whole store.
“Different salesmen would come by and he’d buy things from them and when they’d come around, he’d have to pay them for it. He had them on consignment.”
The beginnings of Bobby’s Furniture began in the Outside Community of Rockingham. Owner of Outside Furniture Company, Frank Richardson, approached the senior Jordan and offered a partnership with him to open a store in Rockingham. Bobby Jordan turned him down.
Allan Jordan recalled: “Mr. Richardson said, ‘Well Bobby, why don’t I go in halves with you? I’ll just fund you and you can just run the store and we’ll just go in halves and split the profits.’ Daddy said ‘No, if I can’t do it myself, I ain’t doing it at all.’”
Bobby Jordan started the store with $500 in his pocket and with customer service as his ultimate goal.
“People would come in the store, they need something for the home — Daddy wouldn’t know them from Tom’s housecat — Daddy would say, ‘I’ll help ya, I’ll put it in your house for you. If you can come in here and pay on it every month,’” said Allen Jordan. “Anytime they needed something he was there for them.”
After the success with the Rockingham store, Bobby Jordan was able to branch out to Hamlet.
“Back in the ‘70s, this old building beside of me used to be Halum’s Furniture…they were a chain,” said Allen Jordan. “When Halum’s went out of business, he (Bobby) bought the building and a man by the name of Joe Ward ran this business for my dad.
“Once I got out of school, I went to RCC for two years and was planning to go to work over at the store in Rockingham. So, then this building came open and daddy said, ‘You just go over there and run the business and I’ll eventually bring you back to Rockingham,’ but I didn’t go back.”
The Rockingham store closed in 1995, leaving the Hamlet store as the sole location for the next 28 years.
Allen Jordan says that going a little further and doing a bit more for the customer is what made Bobby’s Furniture stand out for nearly six decades.
“We’ve always had free delivery,” said Allen Jordan. “Some of the bigger companies now, they don’t offer that, you have to buy the merchandise, then you have to pay to get it delivered to your house.
“We’ve always felt like if the customer is going to patronize you, do all that you can to earn their business.”
Business with a personal touch led to the store’s success as well.
“You go to a company now,” said Allen Jordan, “and they ask for your customer number and you’re identified as 543874. To us you’re whatever your first and last name are … that’s your customer number.”
Reputation is what brought customers to the store, customer service kept them coming back.
“You didn’t have to do a lot of advertising … because everybody knew Bobby Jordan, everybody knew he’d take care of them,” said Allen Jordan. “Everybody knew he had good furniture. The name spoke highly.”
These tenets of quality, customer service and an all-around sense of community were passed on to generations of customers.
Allen Jordan said his father found joy in helping others and earning their trust.
“And whenever their kids got big enough to buy furniture, their parents would say ‘Hey, you ain’t going nowhere, let’s go to Bobby’s.’”
Putting his customers before profits also led to satisfied customers.
“He started giving a 20 percent discount,” said Allen Jordan. “(Dad said,) ‘I want to be content and make a fair living. I’m going to give them a discount off of what they are buying and give them free delivery and then customer service.’ Why would anybody want to go somewhere else?”
Allen Jordan graduated Richmond Senior High in 1980, but knew what he wanted to do from a young age.
“I’ve been in the business since I could ride with my daddy in the truck,” said Allen Jordan. “I’ve tied down many pieces of furniture and done my share of sweeping and mopping. Whatever needed to be done.”
Allen Jordan says that the past 40 years have been great, but he’d be leery to open a furniture business in today’s economic environment.
“I’d hate to know I had to start again,” said Allen Jordan. “I’ve learned something new every day. Things just change so much from month to month.
“It’d be very hard to start up a business now, because you have so much you have to face each day — insurance, workman’s comp, production issues and COVID, which was one of the hardest things we had to go through.”
Forty years in the Hamlet store and 59 years overall have made Allen Jordan reflect on what he was most thankful.
“I was raised in a Christian home with Christian principles. My dad taught me to treat people the way you want to be treated and he set an example for me to follow,” said Allen Jordan.
“He and my mother (Bobbie) both paved the way for me seeing the joy that he had in running the business. I tried to make decisions that he would make, the way he would pursue them and the way he would have done.”
Allen Jordan said he’s going to miss the relationships that he built with the customers throughout the years. However, he knows it’s time to look to the future.
“Me and my wife Cindy prayed for over a year, (and) tried to let God enter into the decision,” said Allen Jordan. “I wanted to be oriented by God. Once I knew what he wanted us to do, then we moved forward and he’s been there every step of the way.
“It was difficult to send those letters out to tell our customers what we were going to do but it was something I knew needed to be done. I’ve asked a hundred different people, ‘How do you know when it’s time for you to retire?’ They said, ‘You’ll know when it’s time,’ and they were right.”