On Friday, a 94-year-old Canadian-owned business will put its first footprint in the Golden Horseshoe.
Windsor-based furniture retailer Tepperman’s will open its first store in the Hamilton area, taking over the former Sears building in Ancaster.
“We did a total rebuild from the interior to the exterior,” Andrew Tepperman told Global News,
“This is our largest market that we’re in today in southwestern Ontario, but it happens to be our smallest store, if you can believe that. So it really challenged us to put our best foot forward with the best products.”
As of Friday, Tepperman’s will have six stores in Ontario with locations in London, Sarnia, Kitchener, Chatham and its flagship store in Windsor, which re-opened on the same day the company announced its sixth location would be built in Ancaster.
LISTEN: Bill Kelly talks to Andrew and Noah Tepperman on the opening of their new Ancaster location
The Tepperman story started with Nate Tepperman in 1925 who began selling products door to door offering credit as a form of payment.
“He would go knocking on people’s doors selling what he had available to sell, finding out from people what they needed. If he had, it great; if not, he’d get it, ” said Noah Tepperman.
“Then he’d come back every week to just collect a couple of cents.”
It’s that model the Tepperman grandsons similarly follow with their retail outlets today.
“We’re one of the last retailers or companies in Canada that still offer in-house credit, which is something unusual,” said Andrew.
Windsor was the first brick-and-mortar store for the chain, built in 1929. The family business would then expand into Chatham 52 years later, then into Sarnia and London in the ’90s, and finally Kitchener in 2016.
The move into Hamilton, according to the Teppermans, is one of geography.
“Hamilton is very similar to Windsor in terms of manufacturing here: a city of immigrants. So we were very comfortable with the demographics here and at the same time it’s a sad story, but with Sears Canada closing it opened up this location for us to go.”
The secret to longevity for the business, according to Noah Tepperman, is the family’s business values which they say put customers and employees ahead of profits.
“We’re not owned by an anonymous group of shareholders; we’re not driving towards a share value that’s constantly producing a certain quarterly result or dividends that look like this,” Noah said.
“Our commitment is first and foremost to our employees, the people who make our business happen and our customers, and taking care of those people is always job number one for us. It’s not about just purely a financial bottom line.”
In preparation for the Hamilton launch, the chain opened up a pop-up store at Lime Ridge Mall. It’s there the company signed on its first 50 employees.
“A lot of them came from other retailers in the region, others had never had any selling experience,” said Andrew, “But we have a credible training program while both internally and we use a lot of our suppliers as well.”
WATCH: Last Sears Canada stores close their doors for good