Pioneer Linens, located in West Palm Beach, Florida, is fourth generation family owned for over 100 years since 1912. The Glam Pad loves companies with a rich history and family traditions, and today I am delighted to welcome Penny Murphy, president of Pioneer Linens, and her daughters Marissa, internet director and Camille Kubicek, store buyer. But first let’s start with the fascinating history of Pioneer Linens…
Pioneers Linens: Purveyors of Propriety
The story of Pioneer Linens is an example of The American Dream at its finest. The company was founded by Max Greenberg, who had entered the U.S. through Ellis Island alone and still a teenager. He moved to Lake Worth, which at the time was a frontier town without electricity or running water, with many inhabitants still living in tents. He opened Pioneer selling things such as dynamite to blow up tree stumps, saws, hammers, nails, doorknobs, washtubs, clothesline, Kerosene, and eventually furniture as more and more houses were built. By 1924, Pioneer Hardware and Furniture was the biggest retailer in the area.
In 1928, a category 5 hurricane struck the east Florida coast killing 2,500 people and causing $100 million in damage. Max Greenberg was wiped out. In the midst of the Great Depression, he and his family regrouped and moved a few miles north toward the burgeoning Palm Beach area. Instead of furniture, Pioneer would focus on more basic home needs such as towels, blankets, and rugs. Despite the difficult times, Max pursued his credo of high standards in quality, instilling the same business ethics in his son George.
George Greenberg began working for the family business at age eight. He graduated from college at the onset of WWII and enlisted in the U.S. Army. When he returned from war, he took the helm of Pioneer Linens, leading the company to become the luxury brand it is today. George died in 2007 at 92 years of age, passing the reins to his daughter Penny Murphy who had served as vice president since 1995. Penny made a crucial business move and took the company online, expanding Pioneer Linens’ reach from the Palm Beaches to a global customer base. Her son, Alan Murphy, Jr., great-grandson of Max Greenberg, worked with the company in 2005 until 2017, developing the white-glove service Yacht Linen division and pushing new growth opportunities forward in the 21st century. Penny’s two daughters also work for the family business with Marissa overseeing the e-commerce division, and Camille in-store buyer.
Pioneer Linens continues to offer the largest selection of current fashion in high-end linens, serving as a repository of factual information about lifelong quality in luxury goods. For example, generations of Palm Beach brides have relied upon Pioneer Linens to learn how a proper lady handles proper linens. “You get the diamond ring, then you get the Pioneer lesson,” reports the Palm Beach Post. While Pioneer Linens has changed with the times, one thing has remained the same… “There will always be people who want civility,” said Penny Murphy. Pioneer is not just a store. It is a purveyor of a genteel way of life.
Welcome Penny, Camille, and Marissa!
Q: Please tell me about the history of Pioneer Linens and how the company has evolved since its founding in 1912.
A: Pioneer Linens was founded by Austrian immigrant, Max Greenberg. The store started out as a hardware store as there was a land boom going on, and the settlers needed supplies to build their businesses and their homes.
As the towns grew, Pioneer began selling goods to help their customers’ homes become more comfortable by selling items such as ice boxes, furniture and kerosene lamps.
Q: Now in its fourth generation of leadership, how do you preserve the traditions and values of Pioneer Linens, but still evolve to meet modern needs?
A: From the basic home goods that Max sold, Pioneer Linens has now evolved into one of the leading fine linen stores in the nation. Max taught his son George to sell the best products, to respect his customers and that smart businesses had to change to meet the ever-changing needs of the community. George passed that advice on to his daughter, Penny Murphy. Penny is credited with starting the Pioneer Linens website: www.pioneerlinens.com. Penny passed that on to her two daughters, Marissa and Camille, who have also joined the family business.
Pioneer has also become a leading provider to the yachting industry as well as a favorite resource for interior designers.
Q: How did second-generation leader George Greenberg help transform Pioneer Linens into what it is today?
A: George Greenberg originated the company’s stellar reputation for selling the finest home furnishings and gifts. He was an innovator rooted in the basics: service and quality. He came up with the idea of the colorful towel display wall which is the standard in all linen stores today. George also changed the old term dust ruffle into a bed skirt! With his expertise, Pioneer’s product mix changed from basic linens to the modern luxury linen boutique that Pioneer Linens is known for today. George Greenberg set the bar high. Penny, Marissa, and Camille have the same commitment and are continuing to strive for excellence.
Q: What are some key lessons you have learned from your predecessors?
A: The customer is always right! Clients come to us to help them find something special that they will enjoy over the years. Our customers are educated consumers. We respect that. We have a large selection of fine products so the customer can have instant gratification. When a client is having guests come and they need 10 new king size high-quality goose down pillows, Pioneer Linens has them in stock. Just recently, a client needed 26 glitzy napkin rings for her table setting. We had them overnighted for her party the next evening. We can pull that rabbit out of the hat!
Q: As a family run business, how does Pioneer Linens stand apart from other linen stores?
A: One might presume it’s the vast selection of bedding and 75 different styles of bath accessories that keep customers coming back. However, Penny believes the generational aspect of the business is really the underlying source that makes Pioneer Linens so successful. “In some cases, customers first visited our store with their parents and grandparents,” she says. “Because of these lasting relationships, it’s not like we are assisting customers; we’re just visiting with friends.”
Q: In addition to being the premier linen resource for Palm Beach County, Pioneer Linens is available to shop online. How do you work with long distance clients?
A: We have dedicated sales staff who listen to what the customers want. Our associates know the right questions to ask so they can recommend the right merchandise. With all the digital devices available, the customer can take photos of their beds or a bathroom. We can email photos back to them. We also can send them product such as washcloths for color or a sham so they can feel the quality of the fabric. We work very hard to make sure our customers have the true Pioneer Linens experience we have strived to offer for the last 107 years.
Q: Please tell me about your monogramming services and what unique options you provide.
A: Pioneer Linens offers basic monogramming of three letter monogram. However, Pioneer Linens offers digitized monogramming as well. We can recreate a wedding monogram or yacht logo on any of our décor. We create a design monogram mock for approval before proceeding with the monogram. Plus, we can do thread matching as well so we can embroidery our décor in the same colors as a wallpaper color or any exact match. If you live in the area we can match the colors with you in-store. If you live out of the West Palm Beach area, we can send you thread colors to match or you can send us your sample to match colors for you.
Q: Do you have any collections that are exclusive to Pioneer Linens?
A: In the last two years Pioneer Linens has developed a private label line. We currently manufacture embroidered bed linens, bath towels, table linens and vanity décor exclusive to Pioneer Linens, which can be found on our website.
Q: What are some of your best sellers?
A: Our most popular items are our coverlets. It’s hard to find a large selection of blanket covers and coverlets available. Plus we can customize our coverlets in numerous colors and custom sizes.
Q: What does the future hold for Pioneer Linens?
Such lovely linens, and such a lovely family! I wish there were more companies left that adhered to these values, and I am so happy to support their business. Thank you, Penny, Camille, and Marissa for your time! To learn more about Pioneer Linens, please visit www.pioneerlinens.com and follow @pioneerlinens on Instagram for ongoing updates.