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Warren Buffett said an 89-year-old carpet seller would ‘run rings around’ Fortune 500 CEOs. Here’s the remarkable story of Mrs B

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  • Warren Buffett said an 89-year-old carpet saleswoman would “run rings around” the best corporate executives and business-school graduates in America.
  • Berkshire Hathaway’s billionaire boss praised Rose “Mrs B” Blumkin after he bought her company, Nebraska Furniture Mart, for about $55 million in 1983.
  • ”Put her up against the top graduates of the top business schools or chief executives of the Fortune 500 and, assuming an even start with the same resources, she’d run rings around them,” Buffett said, according to the New York Times.
  • Mrs B founded Nebraska Furniture Mart with $500 in 1937. It now generates an estimated $1.6 billion in sales and more than $80 million in after-tax profits each year.
  • View Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Warren Buffett said an 89-year-old carpet saleswoman would “run rings around” the best corporate executives and business-school graduates in America.

Berkshire Hathaway’s billionaire boss praised Rose “Mrs B” Blumkin after he bought 90% of her company, Nebraska Furniture Mart, for about $55 million in 1983.

”Put her up against the top graduates of the top business schools or chief executives of the Fortune 500 and, assuming an even start with the same resources, she’d run rings around them,” Buffett said in 1984, according to the New York Times.

If Buffett was starting a business and could draft any of the top 25 business-school graduates or Fortune 500 CEOs, or pick Mrs B, “I’d take Mrs B,” he said in a NBC interview after the takeover. “There aren’t any other Mrs Bs.”

Mrs B founded Nebraska Furniture Mart in 1937, and enlisted her children and grandchildren to grow it into the biggest home-furnishings store in the nation. Today, the business generates about $1.6 billion in sales and more than $80 million in after-tax profits, Glen Arnold estimates in “The Deals of Warren Buffett Volume 2: The Making of a Billionaire.”

Humble beginnings

Mrs B was born in 1893 in a village near Minsk, Belarus. She began working in her mother’s grocery store at age six, and was managing six people, all men, by the age of 16.

At 23, virtually penniless with no formal schooling and unable to speak English, Mrs B journeyed to the US to reunite with her husband, who had fled there to avoid being drafted into the Russian army.

She traveled across Siberia on the Trans-Siberian Railroad without a ticket or passport, convincing a guard on the Russia-China border to let her pass by promising him a big bottle of brandy upon her return, Arnold writes.

Soon after Mrs B made it to Iowa, she and her husband moved to Omaha, where she sold second-hand clothing and sent money home to help her parents and five siblings make the trip to America as well.

In 1937, aged 43, with four children, Mrs B started Nebraska Furniture Mart with $500 and stocked it with $2,000 of merchandise. Fearing she wouldn’t be able to repay her creditors, she sold all the furniture and appliances in her home, including her refrigerator.

Mrs B’s strategy was to undercut her rivals, prompting them to organize boycotts and haul her into court for violating fair-trade laws. During one trial, she explained that she turned a profit by selling everything at 10% above cost. The judge not only acquitted her, he bought $1,400 worth of carpet from her the next day. 

Buffett buys the company

Buffett was a longtime admirer of Nebraska Furniture Mart. At least 12 years before he bought it, he described it as a “really good business” to a writer he was showing around town, Arnold writes.

Mrs B resisted selling for years, but eventually warmed to the idea at the age of 89 in 1983. She felt bossed around by her children, and didn’t want them to squabble over the company and pay steep estate taxes when she passed away. She decided to cash out and distribute the windfall among her family members.

Buffett approached Mrs B’s son, Louie, about a buyout. The famed investor reassured him that the Blumkin family would continue to run the company, and Berkshire would take a long-term view as its owner.

When Buffett brought the deal to Mrs B, he didn’t check the store’s inventory or real-estate titles, audit the accounts, or conduct any due diligence. The agreement was done with a smile, a handshake, and a 1 1/4 page contract that Buffett drafted.

Part of Buffett’s appraisal was imagining being a rival retailer. “I’d rather wrestle grizzlies than compete with Mrs B and her progeny,” he said.

Mrs B retires, then decides to open a rival store

After Buffett’s takeover, Mrs B remained chairman and continued selling carpets.

“She runs rings around the competition,” Buffett wrote in his 1987 letter to shareholders. “It’s clear to me that she’s gathering speed and may well reach her full potential in another five or 10 years. Therefore, I’ve persuaded the board to scrap our mandatory retirement-at-100 policy. (And it’s about time: with every passing year, this policy has seemed sillier to me.)”

Mrs B eventually retired in 1989, aged 95, after a disagreement with her grandsons. However, she grew restless after three months and opened a rival store called Mrs B’s Clearance and Factory Outlet across the street from Nebraska Furniture Mart, the Times said.

She grew it into Omaha’s third-largest carpet store in three years, and Buffett bought it in 1992 and merged it with her family business. He joked that he wouldn’t let Mrs B retire again without signing a non-compete agreement.

The tireless Mrs B worked at the store until she was 103. She died a year later, in 1998. Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren now run the business.

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Conor McGregor hugged ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone’s grandma after his knockout win

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  • Conor McGregor dominated in his return to UFC action on Saturday night, knocking out veteran fighter Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in just 40 seconds.
  • After the fight, McGregor was quick to show respect to Cerrone, going in to hug his fallen opponent, as well as his grandmother, who had entered the ring for support.
  • Fans on Twitter expressed excitement to see McGregor showing love to the legendary fighter.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Conor McGregor made a statement in his return to UFC action on Saturday night, knocking out veteran fighter Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in just 40 seconds.

McGregor charged right at the opening bell, and after missing a rocket of a left hand, clinched Cerrone and beat into his nose with his shoulder. After connecting with Cerrone’s jaw with an impressive kick, McGregor sent his opponent to the ground and finished him off while some fans were still chewing their first bite of popcorn.

While McGregor has been disrespectful of some opponents in the past after his thunderous knockouts, he was quick to show love to Cerrone after his victory.

With 34 UFC bouts under his belt and a record 16 UFC finishes to his name, Cerrone is a legend of the sport. McGregor acknowledged as much after his knockout win, rushing over to hug his opponent.

McGregor’s lovefest didn’t stop there, as he also gave Cowboy’s grandmother, Jerry Cerrone, a big hug in the ring as she entered to support her grandson.

On Twitter, fans loved the interaction.

While the amount of respect McGregor shows in his next fight will largely depend on his opponent, it’s clear fans were excited to see the Irish fighter back in action on Saturday night.

Dan Bilzerian lost a monstrous pile of cash betting against Conor McGregor

A 21-year-old American’s dream of becoming the UFC’s youngest-ever champion was crushed by a classy flyweight veteran in a brutal and bloody win

How Conor McGregor went from Dublin plumber to the king of combat sports

An American southpaw knocked his UFC opponent down with a crafty left hand, held him down with one fist, then punched him 11 times while he lay defenseless on the canvas

Photos show how Conor McGregor’s body has drastically changed as he’s accelerated through the UFC



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Trump legal team official response calls impeachment case ‘dangerous’

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  • President Donald Trump’s legal team argued in a six-page letter that House Democrats’ articles of impeachment were a “dangerous attack.”
  • The letter was the first formal response to the House’s two impeachment charges: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
  • The letter revealed the strategy Trump’s legal team will use in the Senate trial beginning next week, arguing that the articles of impeachment don’t include any criminal actions.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump’s legal team issued its first formal response to the House Democrats’ articles of impeachment on Saturday, calling the case a “dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their President.”

Trump faces two impeachment charges: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The charges are based on allegations that Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine after urging its president to investigate Trump’s political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

The White House’s six-page formal response called the charges “an affront to the Constitution of the United States, our democratic institutions, and the American people,” lambasting the House impeachment proceedings as a “rigged process” conducted by vengeful Democrats.

“This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election — now just months away,” the letter said. “The highly partisan and reckless obsession with impeaching the President began the day he was inaugurated and continues to this day.”

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as he welcomes the 2019 NCAA National Championship Football team the Louisiana State University Tigers to the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 17, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as he welcomes 2019 National Championship Football team the Louisiana State University Tigers to White House in Washington
Reuters


The letter also revealed the strategy Trump’s legal team will be adopting — mainly arguing that the articles of impeachment don’t include any criminal actions and are therefore unconstitutional.

The Constitution allows Congress to remove a president from office after determining the president is guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the definitions for which have stoked much debate in recent months.

Yet the White House’s letter urged senators to reject the articles of impeachment in the trial that begins next week, arguing that both articles failed to state impeachable offenses, crimes, or violations of law.

“They are defective in their entirety. They are the product of invalid proceedings that flagrantly denied the President any due process,” the letter said. “They rest on dangerous distortions of the Constitution that would do lasting damage to our structure of government.”

Also on Saturday, House impeachment managers filed a 46-page trial memorandum arguing that Trump “abandoned his oath” by using “his official powers to pressure a foreign government to interfere in a United States election for his personal political gain,” and must be pulled from office.



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Police called after Target manager refuses to sell 1 cent toothbrush

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  • A man claiming to be an award-winning journalist churned up viral outrage after he says he called the police on a Target manager who refused to sell him an electric toothbrush for 1 cent.
  • David Leavitt tweeted a photo of the Target manager, a display that advertises an Oral-B Pro 5000 toothbrush for $0.01, and a screenshot of Massachusetts law dictating that stores must sell items for the lowest price indicated on a sign or advertisement. 
  • A GoFundMe started by a third party has raised more than $16,000 so far for the Target manager, who has only been identified as “Tori” – but the GoFundMe account owner has yet to track down the real Tori, so it’s unclear where the money will actually go. 
  • Leavitt, who also claims he plans to sue Target, is verified on Twitter and says he has bylines with CBS, AXS, Yahoo, and the Examiner, but his journalism credentials are questionable and he’s repeatedly gone viral for outrageous, offensive tweets. 
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A self-identified “award-winning multimedia journalist” became the target of outrage on Twitter after he posted a picture of a Massachusetts Target manager and claimed he called the police on her because she wouldn’t sell him an electric toothbrush for one cent. 

David Leavitt, who is verified on Twitter, tweeted pictures of “Tori” the store manager, a display for an Oral-B Pro 5000 toothbrush with a price tag for $0.01, and a screenshot of a webpage about the Massachusetts Item Pricing Law, which requires that stores sell items at the lowest price indicated on a sign or advertisment.

That law also states that if there is a discrepancy between the price listed on the shelf and what the item rings up as, the customer should be given a $10 deduction from the lowest advertised price. Leavitt went on to claim that Target “refused” to sell him the toothbrush and so he called the police.

Leavitt then tweeted that the police “verified” that the price of the toothbrush was listed as $0.01 and that “Tori refused to sell me the toothbrush for the displayed price.” He said the police “said I need to sue them” and that they would make a report of the incident to “take to court.”

david leavitt twitter

A screenshot of the original tweet posted by David Leavitt.

Twitter/@David_Leavitt


“Corporations like @target are not above the law,” Leavitt tweeted. “The police officer told me they’d testify that they saw the price and that the manager wouldn’t sell me the item for the price listed.” 

Most of the angry responses to Leavitt’s tweet criticized him for blaming the store manager and for posting a photo of her. A GoFundMe was started by a third party on behalf of “Tori” called “Send #TargetTori on a Vacation” and has since raised more than $16,000. 

Many aspects of the viral moment are questionable, from the GoFundMe to Leavitt’s journalism credentials

Leavitt didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment, and didn’t provide any evidence of his encounter with the police or the report he says the police officers made on Twitter, so it’s unclear if he really called the police. 

Additionally, he wrote in a follow-up tweet that “I have not been able to afford to go to a dentist in over three years. So yes I wanted a good toothbrush and was thrilled to see such an amazing prize on an @OralB but @target refused to honor it and now I have to take them to court.”

Other Twitter users pointed out that Leavitt tweeted “#YouAreWinningWhen you get the dentist’s office waiting room to turn off Fox News” on April 24, 2018, contradicting his claim that he hadn’t been to a dentist in over three years. 

Leavitt’s bio on Twitter is also questionable. He claims to be an “award-winning multimedia journalist” with bylines at CBS, AXS, Yahoo, and the Examiner – but he has repeatedly gone viral for outrageous, offensive tweets, and both CBS and AXS have tweeted that he is not affiliated with them.

He appears to have been a freelancer at one point, and a screen capture on the internet archive the Wayback Machine shows he authored at least one post for AXS in 2014, but his author page has since been removed from the website. 

When Leavitt last went majorly viral, it was because he tweeted “The last time I listened to Ariana Grande I almost died too” the day of the Manchester Arena bombing at a Grande concert that left 23 people dead. After that tweet received media attention for the backlash it sparked, both CBS and AXS disavowed him.

david leavitt ariana grande tweet

A screenshot of another David Leavitt tweet that went viral for sparking outrage.

Twitter/@rainkinsgreen


The only other recent writing Leavitt seems to have done is for his own blog, LuvItOrLeavitt. On his Muck Rack page, a site that collects journalist’s clips, most of the articles that appear to be authored by him are not actually written by Leavitt. Some are written by or are about the author David Leavitt, who is a different person. 

Additionally, the GoFundMe started on behalf of the manager “Tori” is not actually linked to the Target manager herself. Despite quickly raising more than $16,000 at the time of publication, the GoFundMe was started by someone who has yet to establish communication with the real “Tori,” so the money will actually go to the third party. 

The name of the GoFundMe account raising money is Carpe Donktum, who is a semi-prominent pro-Trump meme creator. They have over 200,000 Twitter followers, and used the platform to raise money for “Tori” quickly.

An update posted by Carpe Donktum, who didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment, says “I am in the process of tracking her down to discuss how to transfer the funds.” On Twitter, Carpe Donktum also said they believe they have made contact with “THE TORI” and is working to confirm her identity. 

“You don’t know me, but many others do, and I hope they would say I have built my reputation as an honest person with integrity,” the account replied to someone asking how donators know the money is really going to “Tori.”

Target didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. 



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