Entrepreneurship is in David Adelman’s DNA. Working for his industrious grandfather, a Jewish immigrant from Russia, Adelman worked in every department of the business starting in the warehouse at the age of 13. Working alongside his father and three brothers, he grew up in the North End Furniture Company in Winnipeg and developed the business into eight stores across Western Canada. As soon as Adelman got his driver’s license he would “load up a entire living room of furniture in a little panel van: tables, chairs, rugs, and accessories and haul it into a client’s home. Chances are I would come back with as little as one or two pieces,” smiles Adelman. With a business degree and a substantially different approach today, David, and his wife, Jody Adelman, are the creative force behind Parc Modern Interiors, a designer home furniture store in Victoria.
In the early 1990’s, the Adelmans moved from Manitoba to Calgary to further expand their growing business. Between both the oil and the construction boom, business in Calgary was thriving. However, after 18 years in the rat race, Calgary’s furious pace was wearing them down. After visiting Victoria and getting a taste for the slower-paced, west coast lifestyle, the Adelmans realized that the daily grind in Calgary was taking it’s toll. “It was a great city for our business but from a lifestyle perspective, it was really lacking,” says Adelman.
After 35 years in the family business, the Adelmans moved to Victoria and opened their own distinctive furniture shop in 2010. Parc Modern made it’s debut in the former Herald Street Cafe building, one block North of Chinatown. Measuring only 2000-square-feet, the stylish little boutique quickly generated an informed and loyal clientele. Following it’s subsequent success, and doing what Adelman knows best, Parc Modern expanded into 5000-square-feet in the Rock Bay area in 2013. “We love the area and have had an excellent response from our customers. We’re almost two years into this location and things are going well,” says Adelman. MHV got to sit down with this style-savvy shop owner to give us a peek into his family’s history, Parc Modern’s success, and emerging furniture trends for 2015.
How did you get into the furniture business?
Furniture was in my blood. My grandfather started about 90-years-ago as a back lane peddler with a cart. He was fixing up free or inexpensive furniture and reselling it to people in their lanes. So it wasn’t an affluent start; I come from a line of hard-workers. My grandfather was old school and ruled with an iron fist (chuckling). I was in the warehouse with him for a good 8 years which taught me every facet of the furniture business. I have memories of friends coming to the warehouse back door and saying ‘pssst, David can you go for lunch?’ If my grandfather saw he would say, ‘we have no time for lunch, David has to work, get outta here!’ He had a rough exterior but a very soft heart. He taught me how to deal with people and was very well-respected in the industry. My father encouraged me join the business full-time right after high school but I went to business school instead before jumping in with both feet.
What inspired you to open a modern furniture store in Victoria?
I’ve always wanted to have a store that specialized in contemporary to modern furnishings. I enjoy the style of furniture and it’s definitely a current trend in homes and condos. After doing the market research for Victoria, we decided we would open a store with quality furniture without the extreme, high end prices. With over 35 years of contacts, I reconnected with suppliers and brought in a lot of cool products, good quality, but also affordable. We created a niche right in the middle. Our philosophy is that we would rather help a client buy good quality furniture that they can afford, one piece at a time, than buy a house full of lower end furniture they’re going to have to replace in a few years.
Contemporary and modern design has gained ground in a huge way over the last 5-8 years and we wanted to fill that void here in Victoria. Specializing in the condo market, we carry a lot of multi-function and small-scale product:storage beds and tables that have storage leaves, for example. We tailor our buying to customers that want a good quality product with a fashion-forward look. I believe if you want to be successful in any field you choose, you need to carve out a niche, a specialty, that will set you apart.
Where did the name Parc Modern originate?
One of my daughters, a creative director at an agency in Los Angeles, helped me brainstorm and we came up with Parc Modern together. We just played around with the spelling of park and realized there is a fun acronym in it: People Are Really Cool. When people ask about the name, the acronym is really secondary, it was just fun, but we are discovering that there really are a lot of cool people in Victoria. The goal was to come up with something catchy, to integrate the fuschia logo, and to create something that could transform down the road. If we open up a concept store, it may evolve into just Parc one day.
In its pure form, how ‘modern’ is Parc Modern?
It’s a very hard question to answer because consumers are not really sure what each category means exactly, whether it’s modern, traditional, transitional or contemporary. There are a lot of grey areas in design categorization. We try to categorize ourselves as soft modern. When you see sofas that are chiselled with cut foam and very sharp lines, they just look very uncomfortable… that is strictly modern. We try and focus on modern furniture that is luxe and comfortable. Whether it’s a dining chair, a sofa, or a bed, it’s not going to be something that is going look dated. It’s going to be a clean design that we feel can take you through the next 50 years.
Describe your personal style?
It’s no secret, I like clothes, and as my wife will tell you, I love shoes. I like dressing a little more casual, especially in business. I find the suit, or blazer and tie, is old school. It’s too formal. Most of our customers come in wearing bicycle shorts or gardening clothes, pretty casual clothing. I don’t want them to feel like they have to dress up to come to our store; come as you are.
I love shopping at Still Life; it’s definitely my favourite clothing store. I’m a jeans, sweaters, hoodies, and nice boots type-of-guy. We’re hands on here at the shop so comfort is very important. If I ever put on a suit for work, it’s a big kibosh. It’s usually the kiss of death and we don’t have a very busy day, so I don’t tend to do that anymore (laughing).
Are there any emerging trends in modern furniture for 2015?
New metallics are emerging whether it’s on a dining room table base or coffee table. Golds and platinums are big. We’re even getting into some of the black lacquer finishes again from the 1980’s. The modern rustic trend is maintaining ground and we’re still into the ‘restoration hardware’ look. The live-edge tables that we carry are very popular. People are favouring our modern twist on that, with a stainless steel base, rather than wood. There are a lot more natural products emerging and leaning toward walnut and walnut/lacquer combinations.
Another emerging trend, and one we specialize in, is customization. Whether it’s customizing your sectional: leather, fabrics, size, chaise, no chaise. Or a dining table with different glass options, fifteen powder coat finishes or height, we are giving customers more customizable options. The first thing we let clients know is that everything you see is highly customizable; we want to be able to offer as many options as possible.
We also focus on sourcing local, Canadian-made, products. It’s slightly difficult to find Canadian products that are edgier, more modern, but there are certainly some great products we still source locally. For their craftsmanship, we have also started going back to Italy, especially for seating.
We also specialize in transformer furniture so I do see those pieces becoming even more multi-functional as people continue to downsize and require space-saving pieces. A storage bed that raises up to create more space, a dining table that has hidden storage beneath, a storage ottoman, or a console that expands into a dining table, for example. We even have sofas available that have storage under the cushions of the seats as an option. With condo prices the way there are today, the younger generation can only afford 400-500-square-foot micro-lofts or studios so it’s our job to make sure that the sofa they buy pulls out into a pretty comfortable bed.
What do customers love the most about shopping at Parc Modern?
If I had to give you one response, the thing that gives me the most amount of pride is when someone walks in and says, ‘Wow, look at this! Honey, check out this table! Look at this chair; isn’t this cool.’ That’s the emotion I want to evoke when someone walks through our store and, fortunately, we get to hear that quite a bit. We try to bring in unique pieces people haven’t seen before and we hope that they have a memorable experience; I just want them to be as excited about design as we are.