Murray and Ida Rotman had been associated with the furniture and carpet business since they moved from Boston to Worcester in 1945. Murray started as a carpet salesperson, then buyer in the former C.T. Sherers department store on Front Street in downtown Worcester. In the mid 1950's, Murray and his wife Ida had a chance to purchase the carpet and furniture concession, naming their corporation Murida (Murray Ida). When the Sherers store was about to close, they moved their business to the Barnards department store on Main Street. In 1964, Murray and Ida saw the need to expand and were allowed to open a branch store on Southbridge Street at College Square. They leased 10,000 square feet in the former Whittal Carpet Mill and it was called Barnards New World of Furniture and Carpet. When the demise of the Barnards Department Store was imminent, they took over the lease and changed the name on the door to ROTMANS. Murray and Ida could have called their store by any name imaginable, but they felt proud of the fact that with their own name on the door they and their employees would always be reminded of the need to be accountable, to treat their customers with the highest degree of honesty and respect, behind a real name, as one member of the community to another. It proved to be very well received both by those who worked at Rotmans and the buying public. Rotmans was born and the excitement was palpable.
It was clear to Murray and Ida that this business was on a trajectory for great growth and they would need lots of help. It beckoned other family members to join in. Soon, their son Steven joined Murray and Ida. Later, their other two sons also joined the firm, Barry in 1966 and Bernie in 1980.
Throughout the years, with added success, Rotmans expanded into additional parts of the former mill complex to reach 60,000 square feet of showroom and warehouse. In those days, because of the popularity of mall shopping by category stores, and the fact that this new store complex had vast amounts of showroom space which lent itself to distinct shopping sections, the family made the decision to present their store as a mall, with multiple stores under one roof. The store's slogan became "7 Stores on 5 Floors Under 1 Roof" and the concept was an immediate hit deeming Rotmans "a destination store" which drew customers from all over New England. Rotmans began to experience dramatic growth in the 80's and 90's, which made the store renowned as one of the largest single store operations of its kind in the country. The furniture industry listed Rotmans as "a store to watch" among the top 100 stores in the country. By this time, Rotmans had grown to 200,000 square feet and the number of "stores" under the Rotmans roof had expanded to such a degree that the old slogan of "7 stores" could not keep up with the expansion. The old slogan was replace with a new one, "New England's Largest Furniture and Carpet Store."
The Rotmans family attributes its business success to its undeniably large selection of category shopping not only in furniture, but also in mattresses, carpeting, and flooring plus recently added televisions. Yet, as President Steve Rotman is quick to add, "it's not just a vast selection by category, but it's the best of each category in terms of style, beautifully displayed in amazing room settings. At every turn in Rotmans you are struck with how complete and well coordinated each setting is presented. It's really an 'ideas store' for any interior design plans you're even thinking about."
All of the Rotmans will agree that in addition to selection, one of the great advantages of shopping at Rotmans is their knowledgeable sales staff many of which have been with the Rotmans family for a great number of years. Under the Rotmans tutelage, each sales associate is trained to be knowledgeable of not only their product category, but also other complimentary categories of home furnishings plus interior design. In this sense, many consider Rotmans sales associates as more personal shoppers and advisors than simply salespeople.
Murray and Ida Rotman understood that in order to be truly successful in their new business venture they would also have to provide the customer with outstanding value and customer service. In order to provide the best value possible, The Rotmans themselves would lead the buyers to the semi annual furniture, carpet, and accessory markets. Known as very sharp merchants, They would search out the most outstanding buys available, and price them competitively so that no one in our larger market area could present such quality products at such low prices. These low prices were better than sale prices. They were called "fantastic" prices. This confidence in the value of their products also led the Rotmans to introduce their "dare to compare, guaranteed lowest price" which was, at the time, a pace setting statement in the home furnishings marketplace. The policy remains the same today, assuring every customer that what he or she purchases at Rotmans will be the best value available, anywhere, guaranteed!
In terms of customer service, in addition to providing generous price guarantees and product warranties, Rotmans Customer Service Department became known for its great understanding of customer needs. In concert with the warehouse and delivery crew, they continue to maintain a program of servicing customers' needs beyond expectation, reducing response time and problem solving time while increasing customer satisfaction levels.
Within the last few years, Rotmans has enhanced its customer service efforts in one very distinctive way by initiating its program of "Rotmans Free Design a Room." For the first time anywhere, Rotmans customers can call or email the store and have a Rotmans technician come to the house to scope out the room or rooms in question, detailing the needs and wishes of the homeowner. Then, at Rotmans, one of the design staff will help the customer customize that space with a detailed computer analysis filled with actual suggestions on everything from furniture and flooring, to accessories, all tailored to the customers particular budget. And best of all, this service is free of charge.
Starting with Murray and Ida Rotman, and continuing to this present day, Rotmans has taken seriously its commitment to "give back to the community." In addition to supporting a number of local charities and community service effort, including its leadership role in the local United Way campaign, Rotmans has had a very active role to play in a community service effort, which is near, and dear to their hearts, the fight against homelessness. Since 1999, Bernie Rotman has joined Bishop Daniel Reilly in co-chairing the local Walk for the Homeless, which since inception has raised over $1 million in the fight against homelessness. But, as a business, Rotmans had already begun their fight against homelessness some 7 years earlier. Since Rotmans primary interest is in improving and making more comfortable the homes of its customers in Central Massachusetts, the need to provide that level of comfort to those in the throws of homelessness or in danger of becoming homeless seemed to be a natural cause of choice for Rotmans. With that in mind, in 1992, Rotmans partnered with the Central Mass. Housing Alliance and its division called "Donations Clearinghouse." This is a community effort to provide "gently used" recycled home furnishings to those in desperate need of them, namely victims of fire, medical emergency, job loss, etc. When Rotmans customers would buy new furniture, Rotmans would in turn ask them to take the furniture they are replacing and donate it to people who were in desperate need of it.
Rotmans would assist by helping to sponsor a pick up truck and crew, along with acquiring the necessary warehouse space for storage. The customers would be advantaged by not only having a way to rid themselves of their old furniture, but by doing it in such a charitable manner. Needless to say, the response of the customers was overwhelmingly favorable, and so began Rotmans Furniture Exchange. This past year alone, 1000 Rotmans customers took part in the program benefiting over 600 families in Central Massachusetts. Multiply that by nearly 20 years and you see a remarkable success story.
Rotmans has been pleased and honored to receive Achievement Awards from The Better Business Bureau, The Chamber of Commerce, SCORE, The Worcester Business Journal (Family Business Award) and Clark University School of Management (Corporate Citizen's Award). Other proud achievements include being named Retailer of the Year by the National Home Furnishings Association as well as the National Carpet Association Retailer of the Year.
Murray Rotman passed away in the spring of 2004. Ida recently passed away just shy of her 105th birthday. Right up to her death, she remained a wise advisor and counsel to all Rotmans associates, most especially her three sons, Barry, Steve, and Bernie.