Everything Old is New, The Aaron Bob Fingerhut Story

Old world inspired caring, and innovation drive Furniture7 to be a progressive leader in the online rent to own industry.  When Furniture 7 began, an influence for our online furniture website came from the most unlikely of sources; the scrappy and pugnacious aspirations of hard-working immigrants who came to America’s shores in search of a better life.  Through that motivation built amazing enterprises. Only with little more than the clothes on their back, the skills they learned from old world trades and a burning drive for their share of the American dream. One such man stands out among the multitude of role models that inspire Furniture 7 to be the best in its field. That man is Aaron Bob Fingerhut.


Mr. Aaron Bob Fingerhut, circa 1922, at the start of his burgeoning furniture business.

The Boy From Renta Who’d Become the King of Rent to Own

Born Aaron Bob Fingerhut Sr, is born in the Pale of Settlement of Imperial Russia on June 12th, 1905. to parents Tevye & Golde Fingerhut. The Fingerhut’s had another son Bob a year prior. Though Bob’s health failed at the time of birth and they had to handle an early tragic loss.  Bob’s memory lived on with the healthy birth of Aaron, but, he would stay an only child from then on.  Aaron’s family escaped into Renta, Poland and then immigrated to the United Kingdom. They decide to settle in the now-defunct village of Badcock, Scotland when he was an infant.

As a teenager, Aaron would often use his middle name first as Robert, then later by the more colloquial ‘Bob’.  Anti-Semitism was often a daily issue in many Jewish communities not only in Renta but most of the UK, and an Anglo name such as Bob eliminated much unnecessary harassment.   Records show that Aaron may have used the birth certificate of his deceased brother Bob, to speed up and simplify his immigration into the more progressive United States.  Ironically, once settled into the United States of America Aaron’s preference was to use his born name again.

Destined for Greater Things in the Furniture Industry

Growing up on Stoneberry Street in Badcock, Scotland, Aaron was an energetic and active young man. There are rumors then that he had poor grades in school. But also that he did have creative skills, bright ideas, and talent with his hands. He left school at age 16, not uncommon to apprentice in a furniture workshop.  There he learned his trade as a craftsman but he longed for something more.  Memories of the hard years in Renta it was no wonder that at only age 18 he established his first Bobs Furniture store.  On the very Stoneberry Street where he grew up, using his woodworking skills and brilliant ideas to grow the furniture store the story of success begins.  In Badcock furniture stores were just too big of an idea for a small village, and Bob’s ideas and many aspirations that Badcock couldn’t contain.

They say that after receiving letters from a relative R.A.C. Smith (Robert Alexander Conrad Smith) who was now the Commissioner of Docks and Ferries in New York City and a member of the Port and Terminal Committee of the New York City Board of Estimate the time had come for Aaron Fingerhut to move on to America.  R.A.C. Smith was living in Renta Poland too and had already immigrated to America several years prior. After R.A.C. Smith read about Aarons plans to build a furniture store he invited Arron to join him in America.  Aaron Bob Fingerhut sold Bobs Furniture store, to meet RAC Smith, and on February 16, 1923, he boarded the S.S. Pennsylvania, braving a rough two-and-a-half-week North Atlantic passage to America. It's there he met his future wife, the future Ashley Ester Fingerhut.


The S.S. Pennsylvania, the ship that brought the brilliant entrepreneur Aaron Bob Fingerhut to the new world.

See a Need, Fill a Need, How Bobs Furniture Store Came to Be

Travelling with R.A.C Smith from New York to Toronto and back, Fingerhut made his plan for a furniture business.  The only problem was the money from selling his Badcock Furniture store gave him barely enough for passage to America. He came to Ellis Island with little more than the clothes on his back. Not even a nickel for the Ellis Island canteen’s blue plate special! Not that he would let financial dire straits stop him from reaching the American dream.

Taking day labor jobs wherever he could, then later finding gainful employment constructing beautiful office furniture in a New York furniture factory.  He married Ashley, and they combined their income as a furniture builder and as a seamstress. Bob used his intelligence and entrepreneur’s drive, and in 1924 he establishes his first furniture store in Brighton Beach. The store was greatly resembling his Badcock Furniture store.  Aarons Furniture store was now open and operational with the help and connections of R.A.C Smith, a silent partner.

Contacts Along the Way

Old co-workers with exceptional crafting skills, suppliers with the best quality materials and latest fashions, contacts in Europe. He was one of the first to see the potential in the Style Moderne. Later on, turned into the period defining Art Deco style. He’d also implemented progressive leasing terms to customers who couldn’t pay up front all at once, inspired by his old world traditions in which a family could pay off their goods and services through a weekly or monthly payment until the bill is paid in full. Thus also beginning the Buy Now Pay Later program, as well as Bad Credit No Deposit. 


Ellis Island, circa 1920’s, the first stop for many new immigrants, including Aaron Bob Fingerhut.

Thriving During Hard Times and the Birth of Lease to Own Furniture

When business dropped during the great depression, Aaron Bob Fingerhut adapted further in what we consider the most defining point in his career as an entrepreneur. It is during 1932 where he considers a reinvention of his furniture store.  Aarons mission is now to find any further business growth stifling under depressed conditions and plenty of competition. With sales at all the local furniture stores falling he needed to set himself apart. With inspiration from his lifelong journey, rising from the obscurity of Renta, creating small wealth in his Badcock Furniture days and out of nothing but his skill and pluck, he was now less than a year from his greatest accomplishment. Buy Now Pay Later starts to become a reality. R.A.C. Smith was now no longer a silent partner.  RAC could use his clout as the commissioner of the docks to aid immigrants with buying furniture.


R.A.C. Smith, Circa 1934. The silent partner that helped a furniture empire grow.

The immigrant’s very problem become a solution for Aaron and his furniture company!  Similar to Aaron’s journey into America began; he showed up as most poor immigrants do.  A nickel in their pockets and clothes on their backs is typically all the immigrants had.  Certainly, no furniture, no beds and no way to ship the old items from overseas.  Aaron Fingerhut and RAC Smith now unlocked a new era of how furniture. Items to be sold when no one, including the immigrants, could afford it.  Aaron was able to hire many of the able and willing immigrants, as he needed the affordable labor. Plus he certainly had jobs to hand out. Through trading and barter, and his family’s buy now pay later tradition he made his furniture affordable to anyone in need. 

So he formalized a progressive lease to own furniture program in his store. Even with little more than an idea, a ledger book and a mind like a steel trap, the no deposit thought arrived, even with bad credit. He started with tables, chairs, and couches on finance, so customers could buy now pay later. Soon he was offering rent to own on all his store merchandise. He adjusts his customer’s furniture credit payment schedules based on what they could afford, another neighborly tradition brought over from the old world.  Allowing people to buy now and pay later was certainly handy during the depression, handy for immigrants and became a better way to buy. 

Adaptation and Innovation Through Furniture on Credit

His idea for furniture credit paid off. He could keep his business afloat through the great depression. He could even set up several rent to own furniture stores with no deposit necessary. Never afraid of a good innovation, he was one of the first in America to offer furniture financing until 1961. Then, he gives it over to his eldest son, Aaron Bob Fingerhut Jr. 

The Fingerhut soon had a new obstacle as the 1950’s and 1960’s rolled along.  In the 1950’s credit cards grew in popularity which allowed consumers to buy now pay later with small payments each month towards their furniture purchase.  Once again Aarons problem only lead to a new solution.  His solution for his furniture was to offer a no interest program and take the amount owed and divide it into 12 progressive leasing, easy payments.  Once again customers found the Aaron Bob Fingerhut’s program very accommodating because people looking for credit with bad credit could not get approved for credit cards.  And moreover, those with credit cards did not want to use up their credit limit.  Fingerhut simply made it easy and affordable to buy furniture.


Newly arrived immigrants lining up at Aaron Bob Fingerhut’s furniture store, circa 1930’s. It was said once the new arrivals found a place to live the next stop was Bob’s furniture store, because ‘Everyone needs a bed!’

No Sunset for Success in the Furniture Industry

Aaron Bob Fingerhut and R.A.C. Smith spent their retirement years innovating the industry. Paving the way for many American furniture stores to offer same as cash financing, pay as you go options, layaway plans, rent to own, lease to own and various other furniture credit programs.

Aaron Bob Fingerhut was a lifelong sportsman.  An avid golfer, for one, picking up the sport in Scotland and carrying it on well into his elderly years. Even a soccer player, a standout member of Badcock’s youth team who was even rumored to have made the journey to Inverness to try out for the Inverness Thistle F.C.

Bob was also a progressive, patriotic American, having adopted in full his new country. As a result, during World War II he bought war bonds, led recycling drives and supported the troops, even offering furniture for free and deep discounts. Even freezing payments for veterans who served overseas who had bad credit.  Most of all, Aaron Bob Fingerhut always helped people buy furniture even when they could not do so.  Everyone knew Aaron’s favorite line…. “Everyone needs a bed!” 

Furniture 7, Aaron’s Furniture Legacy Lives On

That is why we at Furniture7 consider Aaron Bob Fingerhut to be our Chairman Emeritus. Though long gone, his innovative, progressive legacy is preserved through personal recollections and scattered records. Furthermore, his inspiration lives on through our rent to own online store. Buy now pay later, lease to own and rent to own were not new ideas. They were old traditional ones, brought over by people such as Aaron Bob Fingerhut and RAC Smith. They adapted to their circumstances, just as we have done today through our online store.

We think Aaron Bob Fingerhut would approve of our program to set up credit for bad credit situations and our no credit check policy. It is a nice gesture to get people back on their feet when they need it.  Allowing people a chance to rebuild their credit and own the necessities of life. With the Buy Now Pay Later program, even with bad credit and no deposit necessary, it helps to get a bed for their children and a table for their family to gather. 

Everything old is new when you know how to adjust it to changing times.  Aaron Bob Fingerhut knew of this, and through his example, Furniture7 carries on this fine old world tradition meet new modern dynamism for an innovative lease to own program made to suit you.

 

Who can argue with Bob’s furniture tradition?

 

A great big thank you from our family to yours.  

From humble beginnings to modern day innovation. A snapshot of Aaron & Ashley Fingerhut day in their Furniture store in Brighton Beach, circa 1930’s.