Max Furniture, located at 3460 Quadra street, is a local furniture store that specializes in Canadian-made pieces and sells everything from bedroom sets, to barstools, to sofas. They know how important it is to support the community, so you can often find Max Furniture hosting events for charities and different groups—including Think Local First mixers! We sat down with General Manager and Owner Rahim Khudabux to hear more about the stories and passions behind Max Furniture.
Can you tell me the history behind Max Furniture, and how you got involved with the store?
“We started the store more through mentorship. Al, my business partner, mentored me at a very young age. We kind of started the store as a pilot and part-time job for me, essentially for me to get into business and get my feet wet. It then started taking on a life of its own. We’ve moved locations a couple of times, and finally we moved to our current spot which is about 10,000 square feet. We’ve completely changed the business model and plan from what we started with in the beginning, but we’re in a much better position now where we have more experience and knowledge. We’re quite happy with where the store has come to.
It’s been about two and a half years since Max Furniture moved to its new location at 3460 Quadra Street. Rahim explains that the move happened right before the pandemic, which brought a whole new set of challenges.
“February 2020 we were finally done with all our tenant improvements in the building and then in March everything got shut down. So it was literally right before, like 6 weeks before the pandemic started. It was a scary time for us in business. We definitely went through turmoil like many local companies, but fortunately our industry did well a couple months into COVID.”
Rahim explains that they’re still learning the new space so that they can make the most of the floor they have with the biggest impact.
“It’s a hard balance because we are in a warehouse, it is a big shell. And we wanted to create that feel where it felt comfortable, but you still want to be able to show enough pieces. So it’s not super spaced out here. Easy to shop, but still feeling like, ‘okay I can picture these pieces in my home, my office.’”
What does Max Furniture provide and what is your mission?
“We focused on Canadian-made products about eight years ago. It was a good niche for us, and it did really well. Well-priced, good quality, Canadian-made was kind of where we started, more on the solid wood end of things. So it’s a lot of bedroom sets, coffee tables, dining sets. And then we started getting to upholsteries in sofas, loveseats, and chairs, keeping with the Canadian-made, and that did really well for us. Then we went into bar stools and counter stools very heavily—we actually have the largest selection of stools on the island. We specialize in that. So that’s kind of our main mission I would say, is to keep everything more or less local. We do about 80% Canadian-made and about 20% imported—that’s the stuff we can’t get made in Canada, or that customers are asking for, or that’s still well-made overseas or in the States.”
Does Max Furniture do any charity, community group, or activism initiatives?
“We do a couple different versions of things. Al and I have both been huge on giving back to the community with both of the companies; Maximum Express, the courier freight business, is our sister company. We’ve always gone to charity events, networking events—we pretty much don’t say no to anything…we go to everything we can to support the community and market our business.”
Rahim also says that there are some specific ways Max Furniture gives back to charities in Victoria.
“In terms of the charity work we do, the store hosts quite a bit of charity events throughout the year. We give up the space [their showroom] for no charge, for any charity that wants to host a silent auction, thank their volunteers, build an awareness, launch a campaign, do a networking event—whatever. We often will host the bar as well, just to make sure that everyone is comfortable, and the food. But yeah, we do that at no charge for any charity that approaches us and fits well with our values.”
Max Furniture also sponsors Lifetime Networks and are part of the Victoria Chamber quite heavily.
“We are just involved in as many groups—networking groups, business leads clubs—as resources allow us to do. We get involved as much as we can in the community and give back because without the people in this city and province supporting our businesses, we wouldn’t be where we are.”
How would you say Max Furniture positively impacts the community?
“We’re using our business to leverage other people’s donations…and it helps charities leverage their limited resources as well. We’ve raised $3000 to up to $12,000 in two hours at events we host here. So that can give a really good push to a charity or organization that needs it. Or we can drive awareness, like with Think Local First events where people come out, they meet others, they really see the value of the group, and then they hopefully will join and become members, or just know the simple initiative of shopping and thinking local.”
Why do you think shopping locally is important?
“One of the obvious reasons is when you shop locally the money stays in our community—you’re supporting people, employees, and infrastructure because the money is not leaving here. That’s not to say that supporting big-box stores is horrible, I believe that supporting all businesses—whether it’s online, big-box, local—is very important because at the end of the day, it usually impacts someone locally anyways. But the percentage of local businesses where the money stays here in the community and gets pumped back into the community is very important. It allows businesses to do things in our community that some of the bigger box or online companies are not able to do, like support local sports teams, support fundraisers in schools, support the local food banks, all of that stuff. It really gets to more of the grassroots of it, but it can impact change…what that does is make our infrastructure and communities stronger, and allows for growth, ideas, and for things to happen in our community that help it become a better place to live.”
“I think supporting local businesses goes much deeper than just supporting a business so that they’re successful. Our dollar goes a lot farther in terms of helping out others. So it’s kind of like you can shop, get what you like, but also do well and do good at the same time almost unintentionally. That’s the nice part, because it’s a way of giving back, where you can still almost be like, ‘hey I went and bought a sweater, I bought some shoes, I bought groceries, but I also gave back to my community by supporting a local business, by supporting a local entrepreneur.’ The statistics show how that helps.”
What do you think makes Max Furniture unique compared to other furniture stores?
“We’ve got lots of Canadian-made products and that does make an impact. We specialize in that, and we’re probably the largest Canadian-made showrooms in Victoria, especially with our stools and a lot of upholstery furniture. But I think what sets us apart is we’ve found our niche in terms of our style and in terms of the clientele that we want to service. Just the full service kind of store that we are—we’ll do full set up, we’ll do repair work, we’ll do commercial work for hotels and restaurants, and office furniture. We try to hit a broad range, but also stay in the niche that we’ve created which is well-priced, good quality.”
Rahim also explains that being open to different kinds of projects and networking with other business-owners at events has led to diverse projects that set Max Furniture apart from other competitors as well.
“Trying to drive business is a big part of my role in the company—I don’t just open up our door and wait for people to come in. I like to go out and find stuff, and when you go out to find business, you never know what you’re going to get when you turn over those rocks. I’ve had some very fun conversations, and we’ve done some interesting projects that we normally would not have done because we don’t advertise for it. For example, restaurant seating, and booths in restaurants. We’ve done lots of re-upholstery on pieces. We’ve done full hotels, like 300 rooms. It’s kind of fun! I’m meeting people at events and trying not to say no, but instead saying, ‘okay, let me see what I can do.’”
When it comes to the commercial clients Rahim describes, such as restaurants and hotels, Max Furniture is unique in being able to provide service that these clients wouldn’t get from overseas companies.
“We are here to give the service. A lot of the commercial clients are doing big volumes so they could buy off the mainland, or across Canada, or overseas, but we have the service. So if something goes wrong—which often happens with furniture because they’re big pieces, that’s just the reality—we can get in and fix them. Maybe it’s ‘oh the sofa bed mechanism is broken in our hotel, but we have somebody coming in tonight.’ Well we can just replace your mechanism. We don’t have to get you a whole new sofa, so you save a huge chunk of money, plus you’re up and running in an hour, as opposed to waiting weeks for something to come in. Maybe it’s a drawer on a dresser, or a cracked leg on something—we can fix all of those things. Even if it’s not our product, we’ll take a look and see what we can do.”
Do you have any favourite stories or customers that you can tell me about?
“One, we just filmed our first actual music video in the store, for an actual celebrity. His name is bbno$, and he filmed part of his new music here. What I love about him is if you go through YouTube and check him out, a lot of his videos are filmed in Victoria or on the island. So he’s kept it super local, as he’s a Vancouver rapper. He’s just starting out, but he’s obviously made a name for himself already. Him and his team are awesome to work with.”
“So there was that. Another story: one Christmas morning, I did a delivery for a client to surprise his wife. I think he bought a sofa, and he goes, ‘oh, it would be funny if you guys delivered on Christmas,’ and I said, ‘you know what, we can, if you want!’ My wife and I dressed up—I wore a Santa outfit and she wore an elf hat—and we took the furniture truck to the customers house, and delivered the sofa at like 8am on Christmas morning. It was pretty funny actually, they were shocked. To this day, he’s still a good buddy of mine and we still have fun with that story.”
“It’s fun stuff. If we can accommodate and have fun with the business, why not, right? I mean business is tough as it is, especially with everything we’ve experienced these last three years with the pandemic, labour shortages, raw goods cost skyrocketing, container costs skyrocketing, you name it. We need stuff to smile about and have fun with. That’s what makes it all worth it.”
If someone had never heard of Max Furniture before, what is one thing you wish you could tell them?
“All I try to tell people who come in the store, even if they’re not seriously shopping for furniture and they’re just poking around, is that there’s lots more than what you see. If you’re ever in our store and you don’t see what you’re looking for, just ask us. There’s lots more we can do and there’s lots more stuff we can get; there’s lots of services we can provide. So just let us know what you’re looking for, and even if we don’t have it, we’ll try to point you in the right direction.”
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
“Just shop local, think local, and thank you to everybody that does. I think we bang that drum pretty loud as a group and as local entrepreneurs, but we do need to stop and say thank you to people once in a while. The Victoria community, the Island, does support its local businesses. There’s no doubt. So to all the people that shop out there, everybody that supports a local community, a local charity—thank you, thank you, thank you. Because we would be gone and there would be none of us here without you guys. That’s really the main message. Thank you.”