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  • TheBrick.com - About The Brick

    About The Brick

    For over 40 years, The Brick has been led by visionary men and women who have embraced each business opportunity with the drive for success. At The Brick, we have tremendous equity in our entrepreneurial team.

    We know home furnishings, appliances, electronics and mattresses inside and out. Because of our buying clout we can pass along significant savings to our customers. We take pride in the role we play in our customers' lives as they actualize their home aspirations within their budgets at The Brick.

    Our team is dedicated to creating an enriched customer experience through a top-to-bottom focus on excellence in execution. From the hiring of people to the selection of merchandise, the negotiations with vendors to the design of ours stores, the generation of the purchase order to the delivery to our customers' homes; The Brick Team is highly motivated and the best in the business.

    A Strong Foundation

    Bill Comrie moved into the furniture business at 19, following the sudden passing of his father Herb in 1969. Bill had just been drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks and was to report to training camp that fall when he chose to shelve a promising hockey career to support the family business.

    At first he tried to sell the family's faltering furniture business, and later succeeded in bringing two local businessmen on board as partners. They agreed to buy half the business if he would stay on to manage it. He hung up his skates and went to work at a newly renamed, Bill Comrie's Alberta Factory Sales. Success did not come easily, but after many months, Comrie's, now legendary, creative instincts kicked in and the rest is history.

    He was shocked at the number of people out late at an Edmonton drive-in and the idea for the world's first-ever Midnight Madness was born. During the first Midnight Madness promotion, Comrie and his sales team sold $144,000 worth of furniture in 2-1/2 hours -- more than his father had sold the previous year.

    Comrie wanted to expand and move into larger premises; but his partners were fine with the status quo, and eventually bought him out for $16,000. With the $8,000 left after paying off the bank loan he opened his first store, Bill Comrie's Furniture Warehouse in Edmonton. This first store (1971) was only 4,500 sq. ft. and had been used as a storage area for caskets by the adjacent funeral home.

    A gifted promoter, Comrie set a trend in the early 1970s appearing on TV in his own commercials, personally inviting people to come down to Bill Comrie's Furniture Warehouse. And they came and shopped, by the thousands. Sales grew throughout the 1970s, starting from a humble $164,000 in the first six months to $5.5 million annually in year four.

    In 1975, the store relocated to a large "brick" building on the north end of downtown Edmonton and in 1978 was renamed The Brick Warehouse and later The Brick.

    By 1980, The Brick was doing $75 million a year from that single location. In 1982, Comrie and his team opened in Calgary and Fort McMurray, pushing their retail sales past the $100 million mark. In 1984, Team Brick took their first big step when they entered Ontario with two stores in Toronto.

    Comrie's style was to handle challenges head on. He pulled his team together to draw on their collective creativity and innovation to plan, develop strategies, and then make it happen!

    By 1984, The Brick became Canada's top retailer in its category, and the company launched Trans Global Insurance and Warranty divisions.

    The first of 23 Brick franchise stores opened in Hinton, Alberta in 1999, initiating the expansion of the company's reach into smaller communities. With new stores and concepts, creativity continues to be the key to Team Brick's growth and financial success in the 21st Century.

    The Brick introduced its first HomeShow Canada, a new 110,000 sq. ft. concept store in the Toronto area in August 2001. Two more would follow in 2004 and 2005. In 2006, these three locations were rebranded as the Brick SuperStores.

    Midnorthern Appliance was purchased in 2002 and blended into a newly expanded Brick Commercial division -- making The Brick the largest supplier of appliances to the Canadian builder market.

    In January of 2004, the 350,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art distribution centre opened in Montreal to service Quebec, eastern Ontario, and eventually the Maritimes. April 2004 saw the opening of five 55,000 sq. ft. stores and one clearance centre in Quebec, all on the same day!

    The Brick's website, thebrick.com, was redesigned in 2004 to allow customers 24/7 access to over 6,000 items. This also allowed our staff, especially from our smaller stores, access to the full range of Brick inventory.

    In March of 2004, United Furniture Warehouse was purchased and added to the Brick family. Paul Comrie and his energetic team have made great strides in revitalizing UFW.

    Sleep Better, a specialty mattress banner, was introduced in 2005 and today there are 14 locations in Ontario with continued grown planned. In 2006, Sleep Better was rebranded to The Brick Mattress Store.

    Did You Know?

    As of June 2008, The Brick operates over 200 locations including:
    • 100 Brick locations
    • 32 franchise locations
    • 23 Mattress Store locations
    • 3 SuperStore locations
    • 10 Clearance locations
    • United Furniture Warehouse locations

    In addition, The Brick operates over two million square feet of distribution space among six distribution centres:

    • 398,000 square feet in Burnaby, British Columbia
    • 355,000 square feet in Edmonton, Alberta
    • 325,000 square feet in Calgary, Alberta
    • 70,000 square feet in Winnipeg, Manitoba
    • 859,000 square feet in Mississauga, Ontario
    • 327,000 square feet in Montreal, Quebec

    This makes The Brick Canada's largest volume retailer of home furnishings, bedding, appliances, televisions, video recorders and stereo equipment under one roof.

    At The Brick, we are open to new ideas that will make us more competitive and allow us to serve our customers better. The Brick has built solid foundations for long-term success, such as:

    • An effective team, which has leadership with solid organization skills.
    • A commitment to our customers.
    • Community involvement.
    • Effective use of technology.
    • Great products.
    • Supportive employee relationships.