For Matt Singer, the conversation his family had around the dinner table revolved around one thing: retail.
There are four generations of business owners on both sides of his family in various incarnations — from a dry goods store to the 85-years-running men’s clothing store, Henry Singer, and even Podersky Furniture (the family’s first furniture store) on Whyte Avenue, which brought his great-grandparents to Edmonton in 1912.
“I have retail coming from every direction. It was what we knew, and what we did,” says Singer, now the president of Cottswood Interiors.
Cottswood Interiors is Singer’s fourth retail business. While the others were related to sporting goods, his latest company is like the furniture equivalent of “slow fashion.” It might seem like a big departure from past ventures. But Singer sees a common theme: his desire to bring well-designed products from around the world to Edmonton.
When the space next door to his retail space became available, Singer saw an opportunity to expand. Cottswood is located on the Mayfield Road corridor that Singer sees as a design district within the city. He envisions Cottswood as an anchor within the district while the new space will be filled with design businesses that “can help people achieve their ultimate vision of their home.” Whether something stays in the space will depend on customer satisfaction.
“We’re not afraid to try things in the middle of a pandemic, and a supply-chain nightmare or the middle of inflation. We’re going to try things and keep bringing new ideas to Edmonton and the design community,” says Singer.
Singer also recently launched an e-commerce business called Unfold Functional Furniture (unfoldhome.com) — the product is a sleeper sofa, pull-out bed ideal for vacation markets and second homes, home offices or those who are downsizing.
“I like when something is aesthetically pleasing and improves the way you live. So, when I find a product that really brings those things together, that’s great design. And I love great design,” says Singer.
He takes pride in seeing staff develop in their roles and achieve success in his team.
“It takes a village to be an entrepreneur,” he says.
Meanwhile, every year, Cottswood donates the lead auction gift of a dream makeover to the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation’s Snowflake Gala, generally raising between $10,000 and $25,000. Every year, Cottswood also hosts an event in the showroom for the Lois Hole Hospital Women’s Society.
“If you support the community, the community will support you. That’s the lesson we learned around the dinner table,” says Singer.