Photo via: Brandon Townsend
When Brandon and Naima Townsend purchased their first home, their search for “high-end designer furniture at factory direct prices” soon proved to be a challenging feat. After connecting with some furniture manufacturers and furnishing their home at 70% off of advertised retail prices, the Townsends developed a business opportunity that has grown into Texas Wholesale Furniture Co., the first Black-owned and operated wholesale furniture brokerage in the United States.
The husband-wife duo (also Prairie View A&M University alum) quickly realized that the “up to 70% off furniture” advertisements that they eagerly scurried to were a bit misleading. “The ads and TV commercials were often a tease to get customers into the store and upsell,” Brandon told Houston Style Magazine. A family friend ultimately connected them to a few furniture manufacturers. Upon realizing that their new living room set, for which they paid $1,800, was being advertised in a local store for $3,699 + tax, the Townsends saw a business opportunity to not only make money but to also educate people on wholesale vs. retail prices.
They started out by simply directing family and friends to the furniture manufacturers with whom they had done business. “In the beginning it was another stream of income, and we would use the extra earnings to invest or take a vacation. It was really about helping our friends and family save. We didn’t have a website or anything. If you knew about it and asked, we would help you,” said Naima.
Brandon continued to work as an engineer while Naima was a teacher until the independent success of Texas Wholesale Furniture Co., based in Houston, Texas, was undeniable. After seeking more flexibility to care for their newborn son, Brandon Jr. and seeing just how financially lucrative their venture had become, they decided to focus on running the business full-time.
Texas Wholesale Furniture Co. specializes in offering the general public access to purchase high-end furniture directly from factories at wholesale prices. Their careful nurturing of relationships with furniture manufacturers has garnered them access to over $200 million dollars in factory direct high-end items. As their business grew, they also began to hire staff to manage deliveries and sales. They also partnered with other local Black-owned businesses and even have their son, Brandon Jr., now serving as a brand ambassador and “future owner/sales trainee” for the family-owned business. By the year 2020, they have projected to hire 500 furniture brokers and sales representatives across the United States.