Linens That Last

Penny Murphy, President of Pioneer Linens, Discusses How Company Pivots Have Led to More than a Century of Success

Nov 16, 2021 · 3 min read
Photo by Héctor J. Rivas on Unsplash

So much from the past is long gone — corded phones, the food pyramid, writing checks at the grocery store. But on the flip side, there are things from years gone by that have come back — mom jeans anyone? And then, there are the things that last the test of time. Traditions, styles, and yes, even businesses. Pioneer Linens is one of those companies that has stood strong for more than 100 years and sure, it has gone through its fair share of changes and pivots over the years, but as the President, Penny Murphy, explained, the commitment to serving its customers has remained through it all. And today, Pioneer is succeeding by giving customers the best experience not just in-store, but online as well.

In the 1990s, it was Murphy who spearheaded the move to get Pioneer online to serve customers all over the country, rather than just in its small corner of Florida. But the road wasn’t an easy one, and there were doubters.

“My father who was in his eighties at that time, he was pretty progressive, but I had to convince him and he was like, ‘I don’t want to hear it, just see if you can put it together and don’t let it cost too much,’” Murphy said. “So I did a little research and I got it going. But it was interesting because when I did it, a lot of the other people who were in the store did not understand how the sales would take place. And they said no one is going to buy linens online.”

Little did they know that online shopping was going to boom, and actually be a saving grace of the company when in-person shopping was shut down in 2020. Pioneer’s online sales skyrocketed, and, thankfully, the company was able to deliver when its customers really needed it to. And as Murphy knows, it’s the customer who matters most.

“Our customers are probably our best source of our story,” Murphy said. “We have so many people that come into our store and they say, ‘Oh, I heard about you from this person or that person.’ And my grandfather was active in the community, my dad, they called him the mayor of Clematis street, which is the street that we’ve been on now since the 1930s, so almost a hundred years on the street. And, and then I grew up here, so I have lots of friends and now my daughters are here. They also grew up here. So I would say our story just sort of gets out. We’re all involved in the community. So we meet lots of people. When people come in the store, they like to meet us. And we’re involved in the day-to-day operations of the store. We try to get involved with the customers. If they are involved in some kind of a charity or something, we get involved with that. We know their moms and we know their sisters. It’s just, it’s family. And I think that that’s one of the things that people really like is they feel comfortable and they’re not just a customer.”

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