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May 27, 1994 - Image 40

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-05-27

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

PHOTO BY DAN IEL LI PPITI

siness

Bernie Moray: Making a positive impact.

The owner of Gorman's Furniture is
honored for his fundraising and retailing.

MARTY NIEDBALA SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

revolution is taking place in the
furniture industry and it's be-
ing led by a rather non-tradi-
tional revolutionary.
Bernie Moray, the smiling,
bespectacled, 70-year-old
owner of Southfield-based
Gorman's Furniture and
an enthusiastic fund-rais-
er for nonprofit organizations,
wants to change the business of
sofas, divans and accessories into
a service industry.
He envisions a time when peo-
ple with broken furniture can call
Gorman's and have a trained ser-
viceman make a house call.

"The world is changing," said
Mr. Moray, who purchased the
first Gorman's store — on Liver-
nois in Detroit — in 1965, two
years before it was destroyed in
the 1967 riot. He has been in the
furniture business for more than
40 years.
"We're now open on Sundays
and we're also delivering on Sun-
days," Mr. Moray said. "We're
even considering evening deliv-
eries. We want to satisfy our
clients. That's how we've built our
reputation."
Serving needs has been a hall-
mark of Mr. Moray's business

and community life for years. In
addition to being a successful
business owner, Mr. Moray has
sponsored many fund-raising ef-
forts in his stores' showrooms.
That work has generated more
than $1 million for organizations
like Children's Hospital of Michi-
gan; the Haven, a shelter for
abused women and children in
Pontiac; and Liz's House, a shel-
ter for battered women in Grand
Rapids.
Last month, a box lunch/design
fashion show featuring Grand
Rapids television personalities
raised $30,000 for Liz's House.
It isn't just Mr. Moray who is
involved in the fund-raisers. The
some 125 employees in his five-
store chain get into the act, too.
They participated in the box-
lunch show. And, several years
ago, Gorman's design staff
worked with Detroit celebrities
to create their perfect room. The
benefit for the Haven, which in-
cluded an orchestra, attracted
about 700 patrons and "we raised
between $30,000 and $50,000,"
Mr. Moray said.
This community spirit hasn't
gone unnoticed. It played a ma-
jor role in helping Mr. Moray win

two honors: the Humanitarian
Award from the International
Home Furnishing Representa-
tives Association, and the 1993
Retailer of the Year award from
the National Home Furnishings
Association (NHFA). IVIr. Moray
was given a similar retailer
honor from the state NHFA in
1991.
"I'm honored to get these
awards," Mr. Moray said. "I can't
tell you how much they mean to
me. They are once-in-a-lifetime
thrills."
Mr. Moray says he's found that
fund-raising work pays dividends
on many levels: His employees
enjoy it, and his customers ap-
preciate it.
"Making a positive impact on
the community is not only good
for business, it's the right thing
to do," Mr. Moray said. 'We can
help people who need it, and
everyone feels good about doing
it. Some of our customers tell us
they're glad we do these things."
During his early days with
Gorman's, "I used to read about
Bloomingdale's department store
in New York doing fund-raisers
in its store and I thought, 'How
do we become the Bloomingdale's
of furniture stores?' " Mr. Moray
said. "That became my inspira-
tion."
Several years ago, Mr. Moray's
granddaughter had to spend
three months at Children's Hos-
pital undergoing treatments. At
the time, the hospital needed a
cusa, a highly-specialized ma- -
chine which extracts brain tu-
mors while controlling the
excessive bleeding that occurs
with neurosurgeries.
Mr. Moray was impressed with
the work of the facility's staff, in-
cluding Dr. Alexa Canady, chief
of neurosurgery. Feeling an
"obligation to the hospital," Mr.
Moray sponsored a series of fund-
raisers which generated the
$150,000 needed to buy the ma-
chine.
In an effort to keep his indus-
try vibrant, Mr. Moray is involved
with developing a national mar-
keting plan for the NHFA, which
represents furniture manufac-
turers and retailers throughout
the country.
'We're fighting for consumers'
dollars. We need to sell the ben-
efits of good living," Mr. Moray
said. "The home has to be the
haven for a good life. So, we have
to show people how to make a
good home."
Gorman's Southfield store was
built in 1966. Other stores fol-
lowed in Troy, Dearborn and
Grand Rapids, and a clearance
center is in Southfield.
There will be a sixth Gorman's
location in the fall when a store
opens in a 30,000-square-foot ren-
ovated building in Novi. ❑

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