And now Maurice Esofsky is putting the retail know-how he honed all those years ago to good use once again as he defies the doom and gloom surrounding the great British high street.
Maurice and wife Debby have invested £500,000 in the transformation of their Leeds-based family business from a discount shop into a top-quality furniture showroom.
QLM House and Home opened in 1997 at Meanwood's Northside Retail Park and, until recently, stocked more than 20,000 discounted products, ranging from pet supplies to paint and gardening equipment.
Its most successful lines, though, were beds and mattresses, together with a huge selection of Hallmark greetings cards.
Those products have now taken centre stage as Maurice and Debby embark on a new chapter in their business lives, turning the store into a two-floor showroom selling a range of more than 100 sofas and 60 beds as well as dining and occasional furniture.
They have also strengthened their partnership with Hallmark, with a standalone QLM Hallmark shop opening next door to the showroom.
Maurice said: “I’ve worked in the retail industry for more than 40 years, selling discount, low-margin, value products but the time has arrived, due to outside influences such as the internet and heavy cost-cutting by the bigger chains, to move away from this extremely competitive sector in order to build a more customer service led environment where we can offer a vast selection of quality furnishings from well-known leading brands at affordable prices.
"As well as offering value for money and exceptional customer service, successful retailers have to identify trends and react to the market, and that’s what we’re doing at QLM.
"We had two distinct divisions of the business that were doing extremely well and out-performing everything else, so it made sense to solely focus on and expand these.
"Plus, both cards and furniture are two things that people still largely buy on the high street."
QLM employs a team of 15 people, with its annual turnover of more than £2m predicted to rise by 30 per cent this year.