Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 13th 2014 Contents "Through research, we realised the gov-
ernment of Guyana is building between 6,000
and 10,000 homes, and 2,000 homes were
distributed late last year," de Freitas said.
New homes need furniture, which is good
American Stores has done its homework.
Its competitors in Guyana s furniture landscape
are Courts and Lucky Dollar Store, which
together have 16 branches in the South Amer-
In Trinidad, American Stores see Courts
and Standard as its competitors. She spoke
of PriceSmart, small mom-and-pop furniture
sellers, Hi-Lo selling small appliances, and
Fens being in the same line of business.
Asked what factors set American Stores
apart from everyone else, de Freitas said "com-
petitive prices, customer service, constant
training and range of products.
"We listen to our customers. If they have
a complaint, we try to deal with it within 48
hours. Even if it is something out of warranty,
we try to accommodate them," de Freitas said.
"We think of our customers as family, as if
we ourselves have the complaint."
American Stores has eight suppliers of local
furniture spread out in Debe, Couva, Fyzabad,
Penal, Arima, Siparia and Avocat. They supply
about ten per cent of the store s furniture.
The rest is sourced from the United States
and the Far East: namely Malaysia, Vietnam,
Singapore and China.
"When we go to the Far East, suppliers are
amazed and shocked at how much we buy.
We sold out the majority of stock we bought
in 2013 by November.
De Freitas admitted running the family
enterprise is a "huge responsibility," but she
and her staff enjoy the smell of wood, whether
it s teak, cedar, white pine or cyp, and glue
when they visit local woodworking shops, a
feeling they got during a recent visit to one
of their suppliers at Wood House Trinidad
Ltd, Tumpuna Road, Arima.
In an interview on February 6, managing
director Amir Maybodi, 30, said the decision
to expand was a strategic one.
"When my sister Tana and I joined the
company, we achieved three times what was
projected," Maybodi said, without revealing
the original projections.
When told that consumers have commented
that American Stores showrooms lack "pol-
ish," Maybodi agreed. He said the San Fer-
nando and Point Fortin showrooms have been
renovated and there s been light repainting
of other stores.
"There s a new facade for the face of Amer-
ican Stores. It s going to be sleek, young, mod-
ern. That s our aim."
Sitting in on the interview were aunts Nadia
Hosein and Vashti Pierre, and Alison Smith,
of Smith and Smith Productions, who is han-
dling the company s rebranding exercise.
Later in the interview, following a photo
session in the showroom, Maybodi made an
important point: the company is funding its
expansion without loans.
Maybodi recalled memories of founder
Sajard Hosein, who was known to start work
at 7.30 am, partially to ensure employees,
including family members, came to work on
Maybodi s grandfather would send him to
scout locations for new stores, and he d give
him his advice. He formally started working
for the company as a warehouse clerk at $350
a week, which went up to $400 and then
Today, he sits in the managing director s
On keeping a family business together for
this long, Maybodi said, "We ve had our fights,
but I think we re okay now."
De Freitas said not only does the business
have staff who have been in its employ for
40-plus years, but also several generations of
customers. She spoke of mothers who shop
at American Stores whose daughters, having
got married, end up buying their furniture e,
"We ve seen that many, many times."
She said whereas the older generation kept
furniture and appliances for a long time, the
younger ones change out sofas, dining sets
and the like to "keep up with the Joneses."
Regarding longstanding employees, de Fre-
itas spoke of Rosanna Gordon, who was the
assistant to her grandfather, who died 14 years
ago. Gordon is now the administrative assistant
to his grandson, managing director Amir May-
bodi, and also deals with purchasing.
The business wouldn t have prospered over
the years without the hard work of several
family members. De Freitas late mother, Sher-
ry Hosein, worked at the factory in Sea Lots
until a fire destroyed it, then went to work
in Arima and later worked at American Stores
head office as a director.
De Freitas started working with the company
around 19, with a five-year disruption for for-
eign-based studies. Three aunts have been
part of American Stores history: Nadia Hosein
is the finance director; Sandra Hosein-Singh
was the managing director for 30 years, and
Vashti Pierre was general manager of the
Pierre said the founder Sajard Hosein used
to get angry if one of his employees was late
and would deduct their salary. He wasn t
above sending a member of his family home
or firing them for being late.
"He was a hard task master, no excuses.
He d say, If I could be here, you could be
here. Not because you were family, you could
do what you want," Pierre said.
She started working for the company at
age 14 during school vacations.
"I started learning to cash, then do sales,
auditing and checking stock. It was a lot of
Pierre would end up as general manager.
That meant visiting all the stores every week,
she d visit San Fernando and Point Fortin
stores in one day.
"It was a rapid growth. By 1967, we had
13 stores. We then had a small factory in
Barataria, a house that was converted. Then
we moved to Sea Lots."
This family once ran the Dollar Rescue
stores, which bought and sold used goods,
on South Quay in Port-of-Spain, and Mt
Hope. That folded in 2005. Then it had
Transad, which dealt with installing billboards
and ads on buses and bus shelters. That busi-
ness has since become Cosmic Signs, run by
Pierre, which does all the printing and signage
work for American Stores.
FEBRUARY 2014 • WEEK TWO www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | BG5
GENERATIONS OF CUSTOMERS
managing director, American Stores
The founders of American Stores Ltd: Sajard Hosein and his wife Dora.
PHOTO COURTESY TANA DE FREITAS
From Page 4
"We listen to our
customers. If they have a
complaint, we try to deal
with it within 48 hours.
Even if it is something out
of warranty, we try to
accommodate them," de
Freitas said. "We think of
our customers as family,
as if we ourselves have
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