She was a Poor, Uneducated Immigrant who Built and Sold Two Businesses to Warren Buffett

Liz Jin
History of Women
Published in
4 min readJun 13, 2023

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Buffett was so impressed by Rose Blumkin that he sealed the deal with a handshake without bothering to audit her books or inventory

Rose Blumkin founded Nebraska Furniture Mart in 1937; image source.

Harvard MBAs had nothing on Rose Blumkin. Well, at least according to Warren Buffett.

The finance legend once said of the businesswoman, “Put her up against the top graduates of the top business schools or chief executives of the Fortune 500 and, assuming an even start with the same resources, she’d run rings around them.”

This was in 1984 shortly after his company Berkshire Hathaway Inc. had acquired Blumkin’s company, Nebraska Furniture Mart. By the way, this was just the first business Blumkin sold to Buffet. There was a second, but we’ll get to that later.

Who was this Rose Blumkin, a woman so respected by Warren Buffett that he sealed the deal with a handshake without bothering to audit her books or conduct basic due diligence?

From a tiny village in Belarus to Omaha, Nebraska

Rose immigrated to the United States in 1917 from Belarus without speaking a lick of English. She and her husband eventually settled in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1919, where they started a used clothing store.

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Liz Jin
History of Women

“I wake up in the morning with a desire to both save the world and savor the world. That makes it hard to plan my day.”