For more than a decade, Many Happy Returns has been servicing the interior design community, doing a task many firms put off until the last possible minute: organizing and returning textile samples. President Suzanne Goldberg, an interior designer herself, saw a need in the industry that wasn’t being met and a way for designers to do more of what they set out to do—design. We caught up with Suzanne to learn more about how the New York City–based company came to be, and how it is able to cater to each and every designer in the area.
How did you come up with the idea of Many Happy Returns?
When I got my first job in a design firm as an assistant designer, in 1990, I thought I had gotten my dream job. One of my first days on the job, I was instructed to open a closet and samples poured out onto me, the floor, everywhere. I did as I was told: I sorted, I labeled, I returned. I knew that I was in the same situation as many others, so I started planning an alternative….
How did you get your business up and running?
In 1995, I opened my design firm, SBG Design—I was running the business from my home. About a year later, I rented office space in the basement of the DDB and officially opened Many Happy Returns. I had been working on the plan for years but could not open the business until I was in a location that was convenient to designers. After a few years, I began to sublet a small space in Window Modes until it closed, which is when we moved to Mason-Art (Suite 506). In these DDB showroom locations, traffic flow increased tremendously.
What is a typical transaction like?
Since we service all size firms, the transactions vary. We have some firms who call us several times a month, they request a pickup, and we pick the bags up the same day and bring them to our sorting location on East 56th Street.
Our drop-off bin in the Mason-Art showroom is for the designer who has one or two shopping bags that they can manage to drop off. Our manager, Ivette, checks the bin three times a week. All samples are weighed and logged so that we bill accordingly. We try to make the service work for all types of firms.
Ivette and Suzanne returning samples
Is there a certain time of year when MHR is most busy?
I am still trying to figure that one out. Often, before holidays we see a lot of cleanup and therefore we tend to get a lot of returns. However, just this past year, April, May and June, we were gladly flooded with returns.
Do design firms enlist your service on a regular basis? Or are one-off requests more frequent?
It really varies with the firm. We have some firms that use us consistently, meaning at least once a month. Then there are those who use us sporadically. We encourage all samples to be returned, and we make every effort to accommodate the needs of all designers and architects, whether it is once a week or once a year. I can proudly say that we have some designers who have been using our service since 1998.
How else does the DDB building play a role in your business?
I would say that about 90% of the samples are returned to the building. There are several showrooms that have our business card at their sample desks, and there is no charge to the showroom for our service, so we try to make all showrooms aware of the benefits of our service. Being that we are not tenants of the building, the exposure is due to our efforts and the help of the showrooms.
In terms of running MHR, what is most important to you?
We are a service, so it is most important that we return samples neatly, organized and in a timely fashion. We also feel strongly that no sample should be thrown away, as it is environmentally unfriendly. Any samples that are unlabeled or damaged are offered to design school libraries. No samples should be discarded.
What is one 2017 goal you have in mind for MHR?
In 2017, we plan to make all showrooms aware of the benefits of Many Happy Returns. If we keep the libraries stocked by returning samples, we keep the designers and the showrooms happy. No job is too big or small. We feel, as an integral part of the design community, we should work together—designers, showrooms and Many Happy Returns—to make sure all samples are returned.