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barry tatelman

In the early 1970s when brothers Eliot and Barry Tatelman took over the company founded by their grandfather, Jordan's Furniture had just five employees. From the start, the Tatelman brothers set out to make Jordan's a fun place to shop and work. They expanded their business by focusing on a combination of friendly service, no-nonsense merchandising and in-store amusements.

To build awareness, Eliot and Barry dropped their traditional newspaper ads and began advertising aggressively on radio and TV. The brothers took a starring role in most of the spots, becoming pop culture icons throughout New England as they promoted Jordan's by spoofing movies and family. Believing that the best way to attract shoppers was to make shopping fun, Eliot and Barry pioneered the use of "shoppertainment" in furniture retail, creating a series of "must see" attractions.

The first installation, the $2.5 million Motion Odyssey Movie (MOM) ride, opened in the Avon, Mass., store in 1992, showing flight-simulator movies on a four-story-high screen to enthusiastic crowds. In 1998, Barry and Eliot opened a new showroom in Natick, Mass., with a Bourbon Street theme and a multimedia Mardi Gras show. With each new store, they continue to raise the bar, adding a SPLASH water/video/sound show, a BeanStalk Adventure Ropes Course and more.

Jordan's also has a history of creating "monster deals." In the spring of 2007, it offered to refund the cost of purchases during a one-month period if the Boston Red Sox won the World Series. More than 30,000 customers participated in the promotion, which Jordan's paid off through insurance when the Red Sox were crowned as champions.

In 1999, the Tatelmans sold Jordan's, which had grown to four stores and $250 million in sales, to Berkshire Hathaway. In an announcement, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett described Jordan's as "one of the most phenomenal and unique companies that I have ever seen." Known for their generosity, the brothers shared the excitement of the sale by rewarding every "J-Team" member with 50 cents for every hour that they had ever worked for Jordan's. They also took their entire team to Bermuda, where they celebrated their success with a day-long beach bash. The Tatelman brothers continued to run Jordan's together until 2006, when Barry left to launch a Broadway production company. Eliot continues to serve as president and CEO.

Community outreach has always been a big part of Jordan's business philosophy. The retailer supports a long list of nonprofits, including Coats for Kids, Cradles to Crayons, Double Play Youth Baseball, the Furniture Bank of Rhode Island, the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange, Belle of the Ball and Project Bread.