From left to right: Charles Ross, Aaron Ross, Adam Ross and Eddie Ross in 1988. File photo
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Ross Furniture celebrates 40 years in Jackson

by Denise Kinder ~ Ross Furniture

The Ross family has been delivering quality furniture since 1979 and the two have now been intertwined for 40 years.


Eddie and Charles Ross developed a partnership and opened Ross Furniture together in 1979 in Uptown Jackson when the location became available.


“Dad and I enjoyed building the business together and it worked out really good that dad sold furniture for years,” Eddie said. “It was an equal partnership and unusual to see a father/son team.”


Having sold clothes, cars and working in department stores in Jackson under several savvy businessmen, Eddie said he realized he wanted to someday own a small business, but at the time didn’t know it would be in furniture.


Once Eddie married Brenda, the two decided to begin putting money aside to open a business of some sort. The newlyweds lived off Eddie’s income while putting Brenda’s in the bank until enough capital was accumulated to go into some type of small business.


“We looked at fast food, cars and lots of different things,” Eddie said before being approached by his father to go into the furniture business together.


Brenda has been such a force in the business venture, Eddie said of his wife.


“She stood behind me and knew what I wanted to do, Brenda is the strength behind our success,” he added. “Small retail is a tough way to make a living, but it’s extremely rewarding.”


The father and son team were able to recognize and respect the other’s strengths and knowledge each brought to the table.


“Using each other’s strengths allowed us to build a pretty strong business pretty quickly,” Eddie said.


A second location of Ross Furniture was opened in Perryville after interest was expressed from the area about eight years into the venture.


Eddie traveled to Perryville to manage the newest location while Charles stayed at the Jackson store.


After Eddie bought out Charles’ portion of the business, Jeff Moore was right there to take off as the Uptown Jackson location manager and even purchased stock in Ross Furniture.


“Jeff had fresh ideas and a lot of energy,” Eddie said. “We really started growing when he came aboard.”


While Ross Furniture continued to grow, another member entered the family business.


Eddie’s youngest son, Adam, started from humble beginnings by doing whatever was asked of him as a child without a complaint. Always pitching in where needed, Eddie said Adam has delivered, cleaned and  “done everything” within the business.


Jeff was a member of the Ross Furniture team until his untimely passing in 2007.


At that time, Adam was a salesman at the Uptown Jackson location and expressed interest in taking over as manager at just 20-years-old.


The father and son came to an agreement Adam would finish college while running the store.


“I thought he was a little young, but he showed me a business sense beyond his age with a lot of hard studying and dedication,” Eddie said of his son. “Adam worked his tail off and ended up getting his business degree.”


Adam is also credited for bringing in a lot of good, fresh business ideas, which led to more growth.


“Jeff and Adam really helped the business grow and I want to give credit where credit is due,” Eddie said.


The tough decision to close the doors in Perryville came in 2012 when Eddie was diagnosed with cancer.


“I didn’t know if I would be working again and it was tough for Adam to run two stores,” he said.


The current 2310 E. Jackson Boulevard location was then purchased in 2012 and Adam has managed the store since day one.


Missouri Mattress was the brainchild of Adam and was “test marketed” in the plaza on Walton Drive in Jackson. The new business venture went so well, the Ross family built an addition on the E. Jackson location for the store, which opened in 2017.


“We had a pretty good endorsement from a chiropractor in Perryville,” Eddie said on the decision to open a bedding option within Ross Furniture. “He felt the same way we did, there was a shortage of good bedding.”


Adam’s next idea came in the form of a new concept with Furniture Finds, located at 1809 N. Kingshighway in Cape Girardeau, which opened this past April.


“It’s a totally different store than Ross,” Eddie said. “It’s so different, but I didn’t worry because I knew Adam would handle it and he has done well and it’s very successful.”


Only open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the pieces are exactly what’s available on the floor with “cash and carry” sales.


“I think Adam’s mind races and he has all kinds of ideas because he studies the industry, trends and business philosophies more than I ever did,” Eddie said. “I felt like we ran our business and everyone else ran theirs and we would see what happens.”


Eddie described the next generation of father/son duo at the helm of Ross Furniture as “a little different” than how he began with his own father 40 years ago.


Once Adam entered the furniture business, Eddie said his son developed a love for it.


“It’s gratifying to see your kids come in and build beyond what you dreamed of when you opened,” he said.


Adam’s wife, Michaelyn, has also joined Ross Furniture bringing her interior design skills to the team.


“With Michaelyn here it’s even a more different feeling,” Eddie said. “They both have their own strengths and it’s done very well. I like to just sit back and watch them do their thing.”


Eddie stressed he never pressured his children into the business.


“I thought Adam would go elsewhere,” he said. “He thought about other occupations, but once he got involved in it, he enjoyed it.”


Aaron Ross, Eddie’s oldest son, worked in the furniture business for a few years and decided it was not for him. He entered the education world and is head wrestling coach at Cape Central.


“He has done a fantastic job,” Eddie said of Aaron’s role in the public education setting. “He’s happy and that’s the main thing is to be happy with what you are doing.”


When asked if he thought the next generation of Ross’ could enter the family business, Eddie replied, “you never know” with a smile.


“It’s hard to keep a business running that long, but we are healthy and growing, so it could happen,” he said. “I never expect any of my grandkids to be involved unless they truly had a love for the business.”


As the Ross family continues to grow their business, Eddie said the idea of expanding elsewhere could be in the future.


Even though the challenge of “being around and see how things are going” and finding the right management fit would be a challenge outside the area, Eddie and his son could explore the idea in the future.


“Adam is very aggressive so it’s certainly a possibility,” he added.


Thinking back on the past 40 years in the furniture business, Eddie said there have been several changes.


When Ross Furniture opened its doors in 1979, Eddie said the new business was underfunded, so it had to operate a little different than other stores, which he believes made the store stronger.


Concepts tested at the Perryville location worked as opposed to in the Jackson store. The same product was sold through different practices.


Philosophies were then changed on running the business to follow suit of the Perryville location and growth was seen.


Business philosophies have continued to change throughout the years.


“Things can’t be ran the same as in 1979,” Eddie said. “Some decisions had to be made and sometimes they were tough, but we had to make them.”


When the business first began, almost 100 percent of products were American made, according to Eddie. Envisioning never selling imported goods, Ross Furniture had no choice but to follow suit as every other business.


Very little bedding is imported and minimal in upholstery, imported wood is almost a necessity, which Eddie said is not a worry these days due to good suppliers.


“A lot of wood comes from overseas and you just can’t get around it, but it is also better quality than it use to be,” he said. “Imports in some cases are extremely good and American manufactures just couldn’t keep up or compete.”


Furniture brands in store have also changed since Ross Furniture opened 40 years ago due to many American manufacturers being out of business.


According to Eddie, many familiar brands began failing one after another in the late 1990s due to failure, importing or just not being able to compete in the U.S.


“What I see in major brands, a lot are hiring outside the industry and the quality has been cut a lot,” he said. “We saw bankruptcies like crazy in the major brands.”


When deciding which brands to bring into Ross Furniture, Eddie said quality and value in brands are the two major factors.


“Cheap prices are not necessarily a value if the quality is not good,” he said. “We watch quality and pricing, ignore brands and they must service us. We use a lot of independents and there are more than there used to be.”


At Missouri Mattress, the Ross family decided to go against the grain and not sell the major brands.


“We feel like our independents and mid-majors are much better quality for the money,” Eddie added.


After weathering changes for 40 years, Eddie believed a couple would have surprised his father.


“How we grew so fast and got as big as we did would amaze him,” Eddie said of Charles. “A lot of things being imported would have blown him away as well.”


Looking ahead to the next 40 years, changes are sure to weathered as they have in the past, but Eddie assures customers one thing will never change.


“We feel it’s our duty to shop, we don’t care what brand it is, the factories have to maintain the quality and integrity we are used to dealing with,” he said. “And if they don’t, we drop them. We feel that our duty to our consumer is to make sure we are selling quality goods for a fair price.”


Ross Furniture and the entire team invite the community to its 40th anniversary celebration Thursday, Sept. 26 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Complimentary food and drinks will be served and a ribbon cutting will be held at 4 p.m. to mark the milestone celebration.


From the time Eddie and Brenda opened Ross Furniture in 1979 they hoped they would have the opportunity to celebrate many years of business anniversaries. They watched other stores celebrate 20, 30 and 40 years thought how nice it would be to do the same one year.


“We hope that we have been an asset to Jackson and our customers and we intend to continue the way we are doing things,” Eddie said. “We appreciate all the support from all the communities around - from my old customers in Perryville coming to see me to all over Southeast Missouri – We as a family appreciate everything our customers have done for us and don’t take it for granted and never will.”

 
 

The Cash-Book Journal       P.O.Box 369       210 W. Main        Jackson, MO 63755       Phone: 573-243-3515       Fax: 573-243-3517