The Lesson from Mrs Blumkin

Mrs Blumkin was the great example of the ‘American dream’. As an immigrant who could barely speak English, she made her way to success through hard work

Picture of Warren Buffet and Mrs Blumkin (from

Early life

Mrs Rose Blumkin was a Russian immigrant to the USA. She was born in 1893 in current day Belarus. She arrived in the USA only able to speak a few words of English in 1917 to meet her husband who had fled to the USA three years earlier. She never went to school and struggled to speak English.

She and her husband moved from Seattle to Omaha so that she could socialise with other Russian immigrants. By 1937, she had saved $500 then borrowed another $1500 to buy stocks of furniture for resale. Her company is called the Nebraska furniture mart.

That was the beginning of a journey that led to her finally selling the company at the age of 89 to the great investor; Warren Buffett for $60m in 1983. Despite selling the company, she ran the company with her family until the age of 103. She died a year later 1998.

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Great determination

Imagine an immigrant with very little education, barely able to speak the language, in a foreign country but with great determination. Her strategy was very simple, small margin, high volume, honesty, but most importantly, according to Buffett, she provided great customer service. She worked hard and can be seen around the factory 7 days a week, 14 hours a day. The company now turns over $1 billion a year.

No doubt she loved what she did. This has nothing to do with money, just the love of what she did and did it very well.


Great customer service and loving what you do

There is value in investment and modesty. This is one of the lessons from Mr Buffett himself who is still going strong at 91.

That was not all though, her competitors and suppliers refused to sell to her because her products were too heavily discounted. Some even took her to court. In the end, the lady won as customers preferred low cost and great customer service. Most of her competitors went out of business and her business grew even bigger. What a woman and what lessons?

Keep your customers happy and they will keep coming back.

You know you have done well when the greatest investor of all times tells your story as one of his greatest achievements.

Forget the excuses, we can achieve whatever we set our minds on. What a story and what a remarkable lady.

This has to be one of the examples of the ‘American dream’


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