CINCINNATI - It's a California company with a global merchandising strategy. But there is a strong Cincinnati flavor to the Nadeau Furniture store now under construction in Kenwood. Founder Tom Nadeau is the great grandson of Samuel Hannaford, Cincinnati's most celebrated architect.
Hannaford designed Cincinnati’s City Hall, Over-the-Rhine’s Music Hall and dozens of other structures on the National Register of Historic Places. Now, his Los Angeles-based descendant travels the globe looking for hand-made “furniture with a soul” that can be shipped directly to his U.S. stores.
WCPO first reported Nadeau’s market-entry plans last week, with a 4,800-square-foot store near Kenwood Towne Centre. After that story ran, Nadeau responded to some questions about his 29th U.S. retail location. Here are excerpts:
WCPO: How does Cincinnati fit into your national expansion strategy?
Nadeau: I have a special connection to Cincinnati through my great grandfather Samuel Hannaford. Cincinnati as a location was a natural choice for our growth in the Midwest, as it allows us to connect two of our most successful stores, Louisville and Chicago.
Q: How did your branch of the Hannaford family land in Southern California?
Nadeau: My mother, Nancy Hannaford, was born in Cincinnati and almost immediately moved to Florida. She is the daughter of Martha Hannaford. My mother married Bill Nadeau after meeting at UCLA and that's how we ended up in Southern California.
Q: Are there any genetic or cross-generational influences that you think Hannaford had on you?
Nadeau: We definitely share a love of design! My great great grandfather was open to different styles and I share his curiosity and commitment to the customer. And I also got his "explorer" gene. I started traveling around the word in my twenties and never stopped
Q: How familiar are you with your great grandfather's designs? What do you like about them? Which is your favorite?
Nadeau: I personally love the library in Cincinnati.I have seen many of my great grandfather's designs while in Cincinnati. As you know, he was a prolific architect, so plenty more to visit, as he designed around 300 buildings, and some of his residential projects can be seen through New England to the Midwest and the South.
Q: How does Nadeau differ from other furniture retailers?
Nadeau: We import handcrafted wood furniture from India and Indonesia directly to each of our locations. There is no centralized warehouse or distribution center, allowing us to save money and resources. We pass these savings down to our customers. We also keep our prices low all year round, avoiding gimmicky discounts and promotions. Instead, we email our local subscribers directly when new items arrive. Each one of our local stores is unique and has a special feel to it: Visiting Nadeau is like going on a treasure hunt. You never know what gem you will find.
Q: What is furniture with a soul?
Nadeau: Furniture with a Soul is furniture made of natural materials, by skilled craftsmen, NOT made by machine in an assembly line.
Q: How did you take this idea from a hobby to a business?
Nadeau: When I was 23 years old, I traveled to Asia and saw amazing work done locally. I realized that many people would love what I was seeing and began to try and sell it. The business grew just by word of mouth. I love to travel and explore, and my mission of making beautiful design affordable to everyone resonated with people across the country.