Nostalgia: Furniture Fame

Abraham Mintz’s rise from pauper to patron
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Abraham Mintz left Russia to escape religious persecution, arriving in New Orleans in 1910 with only $3 and unable to speak the English language. 

His first job was on the riverfront, carrying bananas for 25 cents a day. He moved on to work at Menta Bag Co. and then Lane Cotton Mills, where he earned 75 cents per day. He saved up until he had $25 to buy his first “peddling pack,” and became a door-to-door salesman, selling light housewares: mosquito netting, bedspreads, trinkets and more. Eventually he was able to purchase a horse and wagon, diversify his inventory and fill customers’ special requests.

He married native New Orleanian Ida Bella in 1920, and together they opened a furniture outlet on the 600 block of Baronne Street. Two years later, they moved Mintz Furniture Co. to its permanent home at 521 Baronne St. 

Mintz Furniture catered to the middle class, but offered home furnishings and appliances in all price ranges. The 62,000 square feet of floor space over nine floors in two buildings ensured that they had something for everyone. They offered slightly damaged furniture, mismatched mattress sets and remnants of flooring, as well as full room sets, a large variety of classic and trendy styles and high-quality modern appliances. The store provided customers an instore line of credit, which Abe had started during his horse-drawn wagon days, as well as free customer consultations with decorators. The business was based on personal relationships, trust and integrity, creating a solid customer base that stuck with them for decades.

When Abe died in 1972, Ida and their sons Aaron and Herbert continued running the business. Mintz Furniture closed in 1989, the same year that Mintz and Mintz closed. Both blamed the economic recession, as well as the deterioration of the Business District during
the 1980s, with its multitude of boarded up storefronts.  


Summer window display promoting fans at the NOPSI building at 317 Baronne St., with furniture provided courtesy of the Mintz Furniture Co. The name Mintz in New Orleans has been associated with furniture for over 100 years. The Mintz Furniture Company was the first to be founded (1921), but was still regularly confused with Hurwitz-Mintz (1925) Mintz and Mintz (1938) furniture stores, both founded by other family members. A 1982 Mintz Furniture ad addressed this: “The lonely Mintz / Is the only Mintz / Just plain Mintz.”


 

Categories: Nostalgia