Rose Blumkin was born Rose Gorelick on December 15th, 1893 in Schedrin, Russia, into a one room house with 3 brothers and 4 sisters. Her journey to America to reunite with her husband took her through Siberia and Japan, with a stop at the Russia border where we learn about Rose’s bravery and determination early on. When questioned by a Russian soldier, Rose claimed she was buying leather for the Russian army and promised a bottle of vodka for him upon her return. He let her pass and she was able to continue her 28-day immigration to the US, finally arriving in 1917. She moved with her family to Omaha in 1919 and stayed there to raise her family and build a historic company until her passing at age 104.
When Rose was only 13, she left home to work in a grocery store in the city, putting in 16-hour days 6 days a week for only 1 ruble. In articles written about Mrs. B later in life, people joked about her indefatigable work ethic and dismissal of ever retiring, but clearly this inherent responsibility started young and her drive to build her own successful business carried for decades after starting Nebraska Furniture Mart in the basement of her husband’s shop in 1937. Reaffirming Mrs. B’s mantra of “Sell cheap and tell the truth” as the core foundation, Nebraska Furniture Mart established itself as the single best source for furniture, flooring, appliances and electronics, and over it’s 84 year history, has gone on to expand to 4 different regions with no signs of slowing down.
The famous handshake deal between Rose Blumkin and Warren Buffet in 1983, adding NFM to the elite roster of Berkshire Hathaway companies, solidified the upward trajectory of success that Mrs. B had built. But it also became the stuff of legends because Buffet didn’t even run an audit prior to purchase, he based his deal on the inherent trust he had in Rose Blumkin as a businesswoman. Her word and reputation were enough to satisfy one of the most savvy and successful men in modern history, and that continues to live on through the memories NFM staff and customers share.
People talk about her honesty, her dedication to service, always providing an incredible deal while zipping around the store on her scooter. Her vision serves as a foundation to the core values at NFM and she continues to be an inspiration to a new generation of intelligent businesswomen out to make their dreams a reality.
Empowered: Women’s Panel Event
Watch our first-ever Women’s History Month panel discussion with the women who are leaders within each of our NFM communities. Join us for insight and inspiration as our panelists discuss women’s achievements throughout history and overcoming the challenges women face today.