Over 100 Years and Growing
Founded in 1909 by Ablan Leon, the A. Leon Company started out as a general merchandise store in the small town of Welland in Southern Ontario. Today Leon’s is one of Canada’s largest retailers, selling a wide range of merchandise including furniture, major appliances and home electronics. The company continues to be run by the Leon family and maintains the standards of service, integrity and dedication established by Ablan Leon over 100 years ago.
At the turn of the century, a young Ablan Leon left his native land to seek his fortune. After a few years of extensive travel throughout South America and the United States, he settled into the small town of Welland in Southern Ontario. The largest town on the Welland Canal was a busy and prosperous one with large ships passing through the canal, connecting Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
Mr. Leon began his career by selling clothing from a suitcase door-to-door. After saving enough of his hard-earned profit, he bought a small building in the working class area of town and The A. Leon Company was born in 1909. Merchandise such as pants, blankets, shoes, linens and other soft goods, were sold at a fair price to his growing list of customers. The Company quickly established its reputation for being honest, honourable and caring with special attention paid to standing behind the goods sold.
A Helping Hand
In the early 1900s, immigration levels were steadily rising and many of these new Canadians had difficulty obtaining credit of any kind. One particular policy that enabled the store’s reputation to grow, was to provide credit to customers who were unable to receive it elsewhere. This endeared Mr. Leon to a growing number of loyal customers.
Once he was on sure footing with his new venture, Mr. Leon went back to his native land to take a bride, Lena. Ablan brought Lena to Welland and they started their family of 11 children. It was evident to everyone who dealt with this family, that Christian ideals such as kindness, humility, and a general concern for others were deeply ingrained in their daily lives.
As the children grew, they worked in the store dusting the furniture, sweeping the floors, or washing the front picture windows.
The Accidental Shopper
When Ablan’s son was to be married, he decided to purchase the couple a mattress from a local department store. When the mattress was delivered, it was leaned against the store’s outside wall. Soon after, someone came into the store wanting to buy it. Because it wouldn’t be needed immediately by his son, Ablan added a few dollars to his cost and sold the mattress. Considering that most of his sales provided only pennies in profit, he was amazed how much could be made on larger items. The rest, they say, is history.
A Family Affair
When Ablan Leon died in 1942, the operation of his now thriving business became the responsibility of his children. Brothers and sisters worked diligently to continue the legacy left by their father. As sales grew, additions were put on the store to accommodate a bigger selection of merchandise.
Eventually it became apparent that in order to grow even further, the business had to expand to other centres. Soon, stores began appearing throughout Southern Ontario, all bearing the Leon’s name.
The reputation of Leon’s as an honest, reputable retailer who provided quality merchandise at low prices became more and more ingrained in the minds of customers.
Expanding Across Canada
Taking on Toronto
The largest city in Canada provided great potential for further expansion. Rather than open their own stores, the family strategically decided to purchase the business of an existing retailer with a good reputation. They felt this was the best way to break into this highly competitive market in order to learn the intricacies of retail.
After a few years of learning the ropes, Toronto stores were opened under the Leon’s name. The family was fortunate to have associates in all their stores who were dedicated to the success of this growing organization, while it worked through many challenges. Leon’s Toronto stores soon became synonymous with great values on a gigantic selection of brand name merchandise.
Leon’s Brings “Big Box” to Canada
It became clear that to capitalize on Leon’s growing presence, a new wave of expansion was logical. This would require a significant injection of capital. In 1969, Leon’s Furniture went public and was listed on The Toronto Stock Exchange. The family retained the majority ownership of the shares while individuals as well as institutions, all well aware of the Company’s growing reputation, snapped up the balance.
In 1973, Leon’s opened the first warehouse showroom in all of Canada. This massive 150,000-square-foot building was the first example of “big box” retailing in the country. For the first time ever, customers had access to a multi-million dollar inventory that prevented long delays in obtaining their purchase. This bold new retail initiative was promoted heavily on television through a series of commercials, including one that used a helicopter to show off the immense size of the store. The buying public accepted this radical new approach with open arms and the Company began erecting huge new showrooms across Canada.
Today Leon’s Furniture Limited has grown to become one of Canada’s most highly respected retailers. Leon’s consistent growth of sales and profit is the envy of other retailers across the land.
Even with consistent growth, the Company has not lost sight of its beginnings or the reasons for its success. Leon’s continues to sell high quality brand name furniture, appliances and electronics at guaranteed lowest prices. Leon’s take great pride in its after sale service, and relies on the professionalism and support of thousands of associates across Canada. This team of associates is Leon’s greatest asset.
Leon’s Furniture has become an integral part of Canadian homes. The Company remains committed to continued growth in sales and profits for the benefit of its shareholders, Company associates and customers.
With multi-million dollar inventory levels, Leon’s provides customers with almost instant delivery. Computerized systems and procedures are on the leading edge of retail technology.
Leon’s award-winning advertising provides our customers with all the information needed to make a thoughtful and satisfying purchase. The marketing department continues to be emulated by other retailers who attempt to recreate the same winning formula that has taken nearly a century to develop.
Leon’s thanks you for visiting our website today, and we look forward to serving you.
The Answer for Small Towns
In the early 1980s, the Company saw a need for Leon’s showrooms in smaller towns across Canada. The business was consolidating to the point where smaller independent operators were finding it more and more difficult to compete with the larger retailers. Many of Leon’s customers drove great distances to shop at the large metropolitan sites and expressed their wish of having a local Leon’s in their area. The idea of Leon’s franchise stores was born.
The ideal candidate for a Leon’s franchise store is a business with experience in the field, as well as a solid reputation for service, integrity and dedication. Although the Company was approached by many retailers to become a franchise, only a select few demonstrated the same drive to excel as the corporation possesses. The franchise division has grown dramatically over the years and has become a critical component of the Company.
With locations all across Canada, Leon’s is proud to see its name so well represented by these independent entrepreneurs. Leon’s merchandising and marketing prowess is available to all of them, so that their customers receive the same value and selection of product as the corporate stores.
For more information about Leon’s Franchise opportunities, please click here.
Leon’s is proud to support the Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada.
Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada is a leading charitable organization providing programs to children and youth that support the healthy physical, educational and social development of 200,000 young people and their families each year. In 700 community locations across Canada, dedicated, trained staff and volunteers offer access after-school, and at other times when children are not in school, to affordable opportunities for physical recreation, homework help, technology learning, life and leadership skills development, arts exploration and more. Many Clubs also provide nutritious snacks and meals, emergency shelter, family support programs and other supports to children, youth and families at risk.
Each Club creates a safe, supportive environment where young people can experience new opportunities, develop healthy attitudes and behaviours, overcome personal challenges, build positive relationships and develop confidence and skills for life. Boys and Girls Clubs have been helping young Canadians to discover, develop and achieve their potential, for over 100 years. To learn more or to make a donation, please visit www.bgccan.com.