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Brick’s Fine Furniture matriarch Cynthia Brick dies

Opened downtown furniture store with husband Fred in 1969

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Cynthia Brick, the matriarch of Brick's Fine Furniture, died at age 78 on Friday during a short battle with an undisclosed illness.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/07/2018 (1659 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Cynthia Brick, the matriarch of Brick’s Fine Furniture, died at age 78 on Friday during a short battle with an undisclosed illness.

Marsha Brick, Cynthia’s daughter, said her mother’s death while in hospital at the Health Sciences Centre was unexpected as she had been planning to rejoin Marsha at work in the family’s furniture store at 171 Bannatyne Ave.

Cynthia and her late husband Fred, who died in 2016, together operated their downtown furniture store since August of 1969 and together won a five-year legal battle in the 1990s with furniture giant The Brick to uphold their family’s right to use their name as their store’s name.

Cynthia Brick died at the age of 78 on Friday during a short battle with an undisclosed illness. (Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press Files)

“My mother had five children but she really had six, the sixth being the store,” said Marsha, the store’s manager who has worked there for nearly 12 years.

“The business was a very important part of her and my dad’s lives. They started off small where she would go to people’s homes with samples and catalogues. They had to go to 13 different banks to finally get a line of credit.”

In a Winnipeg Free Press story after Fred died, Cynthia said the couple was proud they beat the big box store in the early 1990s to keep their name.

“Fred always said the only thing we have in this world is your good name, so I don’t want them to take it from us,” she said.

Marsha said Cynthia had considered closing the store for good when she thought she was going to have hip surgery, but when it was determined she wasn’t a good candidate for the surgery, it was full-steam ahead.

She said Cynthia was always active in the business, even in the early days when women weren’t often in prominent business roles, and had great fun in the male-dominated industry by driving a hard bargain to purchase products for the store.

“She was very spunky,” Marsha said. “She would go to the markets and she liked to play the little old lady role. She talked people into giving her these special prices because she looked like this little grandmother and they couldn’t say no to her.”

Cynthia and Fred Brick in 2011. The couple opened their downtown furniture store in 1969. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press Files)

She said her mom was also an excellent saleswoman.

“There’s this line of mattress we carry that Queen Elizabeth sleeps on and she bought them one November. In December (that year), we had sold 24 units. We beat everyone in the country. In December, you don’t sell mattresses in the furniture industry because everyone is buying Christmas presents,” Marsha said, laughing.

Marsha said the store is smaller now than it has ever been — she and her mom were the store’s only employees of late — with an inventory of pieces they felt were the best sellers.

Readers of the Winnipeg Free Press knew Fred and Cynthia from the weekly column-advertisement in the newspaper. Fred started it in 1993, but Cynthia took it over after her husband’s death.

The column, which Cynthia called “a slice of life,” regaled readers with tales from their store, the furniture industry and insights into the lives of their family, their dogs and other topics.

Marsha said she will carry on with the store and the weekly column.

“That’s the intent at this point,” Marsha said, adding the family is still in shock.

Cynthia Brick took over running Brick's Fine Furniture following the death of her husband in 2016. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press Files)

She said she had been writing the newspaper column for her mother in the past few weeks and doing her best to have it “in mom’s voice.” The next one will be a farewell tribute to her mother.

Cynthia’s funeral will be held at Shaarey Zedek Synagogue on Monday at 1 p.m. She is survived by her and Fred’s five children — Marsha, Ira, Robert, Lisa and Stuart — and seven grandchildren ranging in age from 3 to 27.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

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