When and how did the business begin?
“The business was established in 1930 by my grandfather Archie Goldsmith who had been working for Fleischner- Meyer Company (his wife’s family business), a Portland wholesale merchant. Uncle Louis Goldsmith joined Archie in 1932. Their sons, my dad Alan and cousin Tom joined the business after WWII.
How long have you been involved?
“I basically grew up in the business, working in the warehouse as a kid during the summer. I joined the company in 1979.”
Since starting in the 30s, how has the business changed or evolved?
“The company started as a wholesale fabric supplier and evolved into men’s and women’s apparel, notions, piece goods and domestics. The company sold to independent retailers around the Northwest and Alaska. This was before big box stores. In larger towns like Portland, you would have numerous mercantile stores selling dry goods and apparel and they bought from the Goldsmith Company.”
“Hotels and motels would buy white linens from our domestics (linen/bedding) department. Over time they (hotels) started inquiring where they could purchase lamps, mattresses and drapes, so we expanded into furnishings for the hospitality and senior living trade in the early 1970’s.”
What accounts for the majority of your business today?
“About 65% hospitality (lodging) with the balance being senior living and institutional."
What’s the biggest difference with the business today from when you first started?
“The internet has given our customers an excellent tool to shop around.”
Is there magic number in regard to thread count?
“When I started in the business, T180 Percale (180-thread count sheets) was the common sheet quality. My grandfather gave my dad and my dad gave to me a small magnifying device where you put the sheeting underneath and count the picks, 90 vertical and 90 horizontal. Today, with the industry continually upgrading, we offer T250, T300, T350 and up."
Is there a thread count you recommend?
"Every customer is different but I enjoy selling the higher thread counts which equates to guest comfort."
Are there any new or emerging fabrics?
“There are now fibers used for sheeting such as modal, tencil and bamboo. These fibers are blended with cotton for strength because on their own they’re not durable enough in a commercial laundry environment. Back in the day polyester had a stigma attached to it. But when woven as a blend with cotton the linen dries faster, and is more durable."
Has technology changed how things are manufactured?
"The textile industry, like many industries has had to become more efficient so computers now run the looms. The industry is continually looking at ways to improve their processes to reduce waste as well as introduce recycled fabrics that are affordable and long lasting. An example would be the use of recycled polyester from plastic bottles woven into towels. We offer pillows and duvets that are filled with recycled polyester."
When did you relocate from Portland to Gearhart?
"We moved our office from the Portland area to Gearhart in late February."
What appealed to you about coming to the coast?
“As a kid, my folks had a vacation home on the north coast. I always associated coming down here with being on vacation. When we decided to sell our home in Portland, it was like ‘where shall we move to?' We settled on the north coast. We are fortunate to be able to work and live in such a beautiful place.'"
Do the seasons impact your sales?
"Typically, summer, late spring and fall are the busiest. Although with our customers having a presence on the web, visitors are traveling throughout the year."
What impact has the covid-19 crisis had on your end specifically?
“It’s been stressful. One of our seafood processing customers in Seattle asked us about personal protective equipment, so for the last eight weeks we’ve been selling masks and infrared thermometers."
What kind of volume are you selling in regard to the masks and thermometers?
"Quite a bit. We’re all in the same boat and there’s so much uncertainty. We’re happy we can help fulfill a need as we navigate through these challenging times."
Has the cost of any products risen or gotten prohibitively expensive as a result of the on-going trade war with China?
“China is a major supplier of contract drapery, upholstery fabric, lighting and furniture. Our suppliers are working to expand their resource base but it takes time. Fortunately, on the linen side the majority of our goods come from the USA, India, Pakistan and the Middle East so pricing has remained somewhat stable on sheets and towels."
What part brings you the greatest satisfaction?
“The diversity and the wonderful people we interact with."
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since being in business?
"At the end of the day, we’re problem solvers so listening is critical, and responding in a timely manner."