This Furniture Store Shows How Makati Looked 40 Years Ago
Some of us remember Makati from decades ago, when the country’s premier commercial-business-district wasn’t congested, there was free parking almost everywhere, and Rizal Theater stood proud on the corner of Ayala Avenue.
For the family of Gregory Lim, VP for marketing of Blims Lifestyle Group, Makati holds a special place in their hearts. He refreshed our memories of the CBD during his talk at the recent celebration of their 40th Anniversary.
It all started with transistor radios.
“In 1948 my grandfather started the appliance business. During the war, most of the transistor radios were confiscated, so my grandfather thought about selling transistor radios,” Gregory shares. “He worked with some American soldiers to bring in the radios, and that’s how our appliance business started…a few years later, we started carrying furniture again, inside Automatic Center.”
Their first showroom opened in Ayala, Makati.
Ayala during the 1960s to the 80s had the Makati Commercial Center, where QUAD Cinemas, Rizal Theater, Brick Arcade, Glorietta (the outdoor area) and Greenbelt Arcade were located. Blims’ first showroom opened here. “In 1977, Blims was started. We were the first to launch ready-to-use and ready-to-deliver furniture,” Gregory says. He then shows us their first showroom in Makati (above and top photos), where Automatic Center was on the ground floor, and Blims was on the second floor.
The Lims’ furniture biz has been around for a hundred years.
Before Blims, the Lim family’s dealings in the furniture business date back to the late 1800s, when they were furniture craftsmen. “From the 1920s to the 1940s, we had the biggest furniture retail showrooms in Old Manila, which were called New Asia, Cosmopolitan, and Oriental. But unfortunately, during the war, all these were destroyed.” Here, old photos of the stores give us a glimpse of interior trends during the 1980s: pastels, chintz, country and classic furniture, with some modern pieces.
They were the first to offer installment plans.
“We were one of the first to offer installment terms in the furniture industry,” says Gregory, referring to the lay-away payment plans that are now offered in almost every appliance and furniture store today.
This is how their showrooms look now:
The Lims have since renovated their showroom in Makati (it is still there), and now have 16 showrooms all over the country, and counting.
Gregory adds: “We don’t want to give you furniture that you will display in your house, but you will never use it…yes, we carry some trendy, avant-garde pieces, but more often than not, we carry timeless pieces that will last years.”
The branch at CW Home Depot Ortigas has a sleek and modern look, with a lot of clean-lined and contemporary pieces meant for urban living. They also carry authentic La-Z-Boy recliners, a favorite purchase for homeowners because of the comfort.
Other new features in their showrooms include a Mattress Gallery (above), where mattress and bed shoppers are given fresh sheets and they can actually lie down and doze off (for a bit) to test the comfort, and Condo Collections, where each furniture piece is small-space-friendly or multi-purpose.
To find out which Blims branch is near you, click here.
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