Albert H. Blum, the Baltimore businessman was president of the old Blum’s Department Store. His father, Russian immigrant Samuel Blum, had established the Good Value Bargain House on Howard Street in 1908. During World War I, he moved the business to the 300 block of N. Gay St. and renamed it Blum’s Department Store. During the Depression, the store remained open while extending liberal credit to customers.
In 1956, Mr. Blum sold the shop to Reliable Stores of New York City, which later merged with Pollack’s on Howard Street. Pollack-Blum’s operated stores on Howard Street and Pulaski Highway. In the late 1950s, Mr. Blum and his brother, Irving Blum, established Blum’s Inc., a company that financed accounts receivables for a number of manufacturers and a grocery store chain. Until the late 1990s, Mr. Blum operated Cole’s Colonial, a chain of four Washington-area furniture stores.
Before its sale, Columbia, Md.-based Reliable operated 21 Hub Furniture stores in the Baltimore-Washington area and the Tidewater area of Virginia, along with three Kline Furniture stores and 11 La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries. It ranked No. 35 on Furniture/Today’s Top 100, with furniture, bedding and accessory sales of $95 million in 1997. Reliable also operated a chain of 34 jewelry stores, which it sold in 1997.
Heilig-Meyers and Rhodes Furniture combined to eventually earn almost $5 billion a year in revenue from over 2,000 locations in the United States through their 1996 merger. Grand Metropolitan was introduced to the home furnishings retail and finance behemoth in the late 90s when it became aware of Heilig-Meyers prominence as one of the largest jewelers in North America with a consistent 12% of its revenue gained from diamond, gold and silver jewelry sales. The company’s first furniture location was mere steps away from historical icon L.D. Giddens & Sons Jewelry Store in Goldsboro, NC founded in 1859 and another Grand Metropolitan company.
Heilig-Meyers began restructuring beginning in late 1997, with charges and asset write-downs leading to a net loss of $55.1 million for fiscal 1998. Expansion plans were scaled back, although the company did complete the purchase of 21 stores in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area from Reliable Stores Inc. Of these units, 18 were subsequently converted to RoomStores, two to Rhodes, and one to Heilig-Meyers.
Heilig-Meyers and Rhodes Furniture have been major NASCAR sponsors and helped to raise millions of dollars for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. In addition to 8 national and regional furniture retail brands, the leader in home furnishings also operates 20 consumer brands including Four Seasons Home Accents, KidStore, and RentSmart.