Rick King began working in the retail industry at a young age. Now the owner of stores in Grand Valley and Fergus, he is bringing bargains to Elmira with the opening of Liquidation King, a furniture and appliance store on Arthur Street.
“I’ve been doing this for 18 years. I was a buyer for various companies – I just kind of fell into it really,” he explained in an interview on Wednesday.
In one of his first retail endeavors he was selling clothing and decided to sell some of his own furniture. The product sold so well he decided to continue supplying furniture, so he began visiting auctions and antique sales, looking for furniture he could sell.
“I couldn’t keep up, it was just selling so fast, so then I started hitting up furniture companies and buying all the scratch and dent stuff.”Scratch and dent, King explains, does not signify damaged furniture. Instead the term refers to ordered products that have been cancelled by customers or extra stock in brand name stores.
“I’ve been trying to get this store for a number of years, but every time I would get close to a deal something would happen, I just kind of go wherever the deal is,” he explained.
King finally got the opportunity to move into the onetime location of the IGA supermarket. Last Saturday it became home to another branch of King’s business on 6 Arthur St. As customers walk in they can view the dozens of living room sets that cover the floor with other furniture and appliances in the surrounding area.
King began working in retail at age 18 when he received an assistant manager position at Bargain Harold’s, a discount store based in Ontario. He made the decision to leave college in his second year for the position, learning the retail business through experience instead. He worked for four years before taking a job with Consumers Distributing and eventually starting his own business in 1996 after that company closed.
“I just woke up one day and because of what happened at Consumers Distributing I didn’t want anybody being able to control my life that way. I was working for somebody and you depend on upper management to make the right decisions … enough was enough,” he said of the reasons he decided to become his own boss.
“In this business here, you just have to be savvy and you have to be a smart buyer. You have to be a little cutthroat but not too bad,” he joked. “I learned some of it from my father, but most of it was just trial and error. You get burned enough and you just start standing up for yourself.”
King’s father had also worked in retail and introduced his son to the business.
“He just kind of showed me how to be a bit more aggressive.”
King has high hopes for his growing company. With a number of store locations already in play he has big dreams for the future and is not afraid of expanding his reach in the industry.
“I want to have more stores. This is just another stepping stone; the goal is to have a nationwide corporation,” he said of his aspirations, adding that for the first time he feels the business is really taking off.
In addition to his ambitions, King also sees a need for his products and a positive response from buyers.
“It’s the right climate because of the financial obstacles out there. Nobody can afford to go spend the kind of money that some of these retailers are asking, so I offer an alternative to the high pricing. There’s scratch-and-dent stuff here, there’s brand new stuff here, there’s all sorts of items.”
The furniture King sells could have come from returns or overstock at the brand name stores he buys them from.
“If the customer orders something and decides that they don’t want it that order gets cancelled but there’s a trickle down effect. Just because they cancel it … doesn’t mean it stops there – it goes right to the manufacturer,” he explained.
Liquidation King offers living room sets, solid wood bedroom furniture as well as both basic and formal dinning sets and various electronics. All products are 30-55 per cent off regular retail prices and customers can choose from a number of brand name products from major retailers.
King said he does what many liquidation stores do not. Every purchase comes with a 90-day warranty, a rare offer in his industry, where most sales are usually final.
“What we get here is virtually brand new, perfect product.”