Behind the Business: Eric Menkis of Smart Furniture Toronto
Classic. Timeless. There are words used to describe certain styles that transcend their own era. They can be applied to fashion, music, art, literature. And indeed, interior design. For Eric Menkis of Smart Furniture Toronto, the era of the American diner has taken its place amongst the timeless classics and interior design, and judging by the enthusiasm of his clients, Eric’s not alone.
We interviewed Eric and spoke about the family legacy behind Smart Furniture Toronto and why he thinks people will always love the distinctive style of vinyl, chrome, and formica.
So tell us about your business. What’s Smart Furniture Toronto all about?
We offer classic reproductions, updated with modern materials including fresh chrome and new vinyl. “Retro” is an easy word to throw around these days. Heck, even Wal-Mart offers inexpensive – you might even say cheap – furniture that it claims is “retro” in style. And why not? Retro is in right now.
But our Smart Furniture family has been in the Toronto retro furniture business for over 50 years, and we know what it means to truly offer retro furniture.
We prefer to call it classic furniture – because while what’s “retro” today might be junk tomorrow, truly classic furniture never goes out of style.
Who are your typical customers?
Our customers can range from residential homeowners to condo-dwellers to businesses looking to make their lunch rooms more comfortable for their staff. And of course we furnish all types of business, such as diners, movie theaters, ice cream shops and bowling alleys. What they all have in common is that they’re looking for a unique style that we offer.
How did you get into the field? Is it a family legacy or are you a pioneer?
Since 1963, our family has been offering Toronto residents high quality classic dinettes, condo furniture, and more. We spent over forty years in our Queen West location, an integral part of Toronto’s community. Smart Furniture is a legacy started by my father and now I’ve taken it to a new level. We’ve moved online – but we’re still eager to hear from our customers directly, just like we did on-site.
Why do you love what you do? What it is that drives you every day?
We pride ourselves on truly connecting with our customers and offering them exactly what they’re looking for. It’s a personal connection that can only be found when dealing with a family business like ours.
There are not many businesses that have the pleasure and honour we’ve had at being a one-family business for all these years and keeping a close tie to our customers.
One of the most important aspects of the company is making a personal connection – we love talking to our customers – and will phone and email anywhere we need to speak to you.
Was it all smooth sailing or have you had to overcome adversity to get where you are?
Having been in this business this long I’ve overcome any adversity because I have a passion for what I am doing and being able to provide furniture for a customer’s home is something I take very personally. I have a very strong belief and have told my customers that everyone must spoil themselves, and living in a comfortable home is very important to me. After all, we put so much time in our work day, it should make you happy to come home at the end of it. It is now and always has been our goal to make our customers a number one priority.
Do you have any advice for aspiring business owners just starting out?
Our company has been in operation for over 50 years because I take great pride in having the opportunity to be able to service our local customers as well as those all across Canada, the United States and around the world. To be successful – in addition to complete dedication to customer service – it’s important to offer the right product, for the right space, for the right customer.