Friday, April 6, 2018

A Special Kind of "Company For All Seasons"

We can truly call our company "a company for all seasons".  To be precise, such a title can only apply to companies in places that actually have four seasons!  Now we're not among the many "companies for all seasons" that landscape in the summertime and plow snow in the wintertime.  Nor are we supplying swimming pools in the summertime and fireplaces in the wintertime.  But we are still in fact "a company for all seasons" - just not the usual type.
               As a U.S. business in northeast region of the country, in which there are sharp and extreme changes to each season, we certainly qualify for such a title.  For those not familiar with this area, it's a region in which the temperatures can be in the single digits in the wintertime and be pushing triple digits in the summertime!  Even the predictability of those extreme  weather patterns have become somewhat puzzling in recent years.  Heck, it was 37 degrees (F.) this morning with a light mix of rain and snow falling, which would be fine if today wasn't April 6th!
               So that said, this post may only be of great interest to New Yorkers, New Jerseyites and New Englanders, along with much of the Eastern Seaboard.  This may also appeal to Upper Midwesterners, Pacific Northwesterners and Rocky Mountain folk.  The post may be of great 'irrelevance' to most of California, the Southwest, the Deep South and  Hawaii - but I digress.  
               As those who may be familiar with our company (or who have read previous posts in this blog), we are basically 'two-companies-in-one'.  But it didn't happen as a matter of concern for having a 'summer-ready' business in the summer and a 'winter-ready' business in the winter.  In fact, winter and summer aren't even our strongest times of year- spring and autumn are (and that happened progressively in a very personal way).
               As shown on our history page, we were originally a purveyor of hand-crafted pool-tables on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City.  But the founder's son personally loved bowling so much (at one time belonging to five leagues on a weekly basis), that he extended that passion into the company's business.  The sport's popularity was escalating on an unprecedented scale at the time in the 1940s and 1950s.  So it turned out to be quite a wise move and the growing pool-table shop on the Bowery also became the first call shop for bowling balls and supplies as well.  At one time, we had lines out the door and around the corner for the most popular bowling ball brand of that era (Manhattan Rubber), which were expertly fitted and drilled by none other than the founder's son himself!
               Now this was all well and good.  But as we discovered, there is an ebb and flow in the popularity of recreational sports, sports leagues are ultimately seasonal, and businesses (meaning: the people in business) pay bills year round.  Therefore, we needed 'something else'.  Bowling leagues, at that time of great popularity, were predominantly "trophy leagues" - meaning that winning teams were awarded trophies at the end of each season.  The founder's grandson picked up on that as an opportunity when it was time to expand our business and expand our reach in the greater New York metropolitan area.  In fact, he picked up on it and took it a few steps further.  It was nice to see people who bowl being recognized for a job well done and be able to capitalize on that.  But aren't all competitive sports conducted and concluded this way?  Also, don't all people have a need to be recognized for a job well done?
               Those questions would be answered definitively when our Yonkers store opened in 1959.  Subsequently, Loria would become the most popular supplier of bowling trophies in the New York metropolitan area.  This eventually leads to building an in-house production shop for the manufacturing of every type of award product conceivable.
               Two moves and fifty-nine years later, Loria continues in Yonkers, New York, as an established and well-recognized, fourth-generation family business.  Even though the original NYC location was eventually closed in 1998, we have retained the trade of our company's founding (pool tables, pool-table supplies and service).  We also expanded into previously uncharted territory with the introduction of recreational darts in the 1990s, as well as expanding our all-purpose recognition business - a division that has become an integral part of our company.  Since its introduction in the late 1950s, our recognition division has grown from supplying trophies to bowling leagues to literally providing "awards for all occasions" as well as innovative, in-house engraving services.
               Even though the bowling division was subsequently discontinued after roughly fifty years, due to drops in the sports popularity over the years, it deserves a nod of gratitude as it was that division which subsequently opened the door to our recognition business - a part of our company that has expanded exponentially over the years and remains perpetually as the steady, predominant staple in our company.
               What's more, and perhaps the most important point of this article, is that even though we are indeed a "company for all seasons", we do not selectively do one thing in one season and something else in another season.  We are here year-round serving the needs of our customers in both our original pool-table/pool-table service division and our expansive awards/engraving division.  As I mentioned earlier, we are still in fact "a company for all seasons" - just not the usual type.


Friday, January 12, 2018

Own An Important Piece of American Sports History!

The Date:  Tuesday, February 14, 1978
The Place:  The Starlight Room at the Waldorf Astoria in NYC
The Event:  "The Challenge of the Legends"
The Headliners:  Willie Mosconi vs. Minnesota Fats
The Host:  Howard Cosell (pronounced "HOWWWID CO-SELL!")
       This special moment in time took place on national television one weeknight, on a special edition of Wide World of Sports on ABC-TV.  This very special event drew a 'who's who' of pool playing masters that evening.  In addition to Willie Mosconi and Minnesota Fats, there was Irving Crane, Allen Hopkins and Steve Mizerak (among others).  The event was promoted as "The Match of the Century, Heavyweight Championship of Pool" and billed as "The Great Pool Shoot-Out". Besides a colorful and highly skilled cast of characters, there was a special pool table being utilized as the centerpiece of the tournament.  It was a limited edition, custom-made pool table called "The Hudson".  
       "The Hudson" was manufactured by Brunswick sometime between 1900 and 1916, was patented for its design in 1911, and was installed for this iconic event by another New York City pool icon - V. Loria & Sons.  This company was founded in 1912 was originally located on the Lower East Side at 207 Bowery*.  The first store moved a couple of times on the Bowery and remained in business for approximately the next 85 years.  Four generations have succeeded the founding of V. Loria & Sons and the company is now centered at our sole location in Yonkers, New York (just a few miles north of the Bronx).  
       Although 40 years have passed since "The Challenge of the Legends", there will never be another event quite like it.  Surely there are many masters of the game that have come on the scene since this auspicious event in the history of pool & billiards.  
But what made this event so special and so unique was the headlining match-up between two very different personalities in the sport of American pool & billiards - one a sharp-tongued, larger-than-life figure in the game (upon whose life the iconic film "The Hustler" was made) and the other a quiet and reserved grand-master of the game, who's machine-like precision is still looked upon as the benchmark for pool players today.  The commentator Howard Cosell, who needs no introduction, voiced over the competition as he had so many legendary sporting match-ups before and since - from Muhammad Ali's boxing matches to being one of the seminal voices of Monday Night Football.  
       This unique collision of personalities in that space and time will never be duplicated.  While the main players and cast of characters have passed on since then, the table upon which all this history took place is still around and resides in its original tournament condition** for sale here at Loria.  Next month will mark the 40th anniversary since "The Challenge of the Legends" in 1978, and that very table, "The Hudson" (by Brunswick), is accruing more collector's value than ever before!
       So if you are interested in owning a genuine piece of American sports history, look no further than 1876 Central Park Avenue in Yonkers, New York.

Click here for a clip of this iconic event in the history of American pool & billiards: "The Challenge of the Legends"

Click here for more information on "The Challenge of the Legends" broadcast on ABC-TV in 1978.
*The first store location was at 207 Bowery, but moved down the block to 176 Bowery in the 1920s, and eventually next-door to 178 Bowery in the 1970s.

**All components, including the original finish of "The Hudson" pool table are exactly the same as during "The Challenge of the Legends" tournament and have been preserved since then, with the exception of the leather pocket covers (which were replaced with exact replicas of the original).