Business

Dreaming Big: Why She’s Leading Her Family’s Old Wholesale Bedding Business Into ‘Scary’ Change Online

By Diane Mastrull
The Philadelphia Inquirer

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Janet Wischnia is leading her longtime family business into the future with a focus on e-commerce, social media, and sustainability.

PHILADELPHIA

Janet Wischnia has been working in her family’s wholesale bedding and bath linens business, ATD-American, for nearly half of its 88-year history, 10 years as president.

About to turn 60 in August, the grandmother of three was itching for a new challenge within the company. She found it by venturing way out of ATD-American’s comfort zone, launching in January a line of U.S.-made sheets created from 100% organic cotton grown in West Texas for sale direct to consumers online.

That’s right, a company started the year that Al Capone was convicted of tax fraud and a dozen eggs cost 18 cents is vying for customers in today’s social-media-driven retail environment, where so-called influencers, those with big online audiences, can make or break a business with a blog post or YouTube video review.

“You can’t be afraid to change. It’s scary, but it’s also fun,” Wischnia said recently about her new “baby,” American Blossom Linens, which she’s overseeing from ATD-American’s headquarters in Wyncote. “It’s good to learn new things.”

Selling anything but wholesale is not something that ATD-American or its sister company, Thomaston Mills, has done in about 60 years, ever since Wischnia’s father, Jerome Zaslow, and his brothers Arnold and Spencer changed course for a business their parents started in 1931 as Jaffe’s Art Linens, a storefront in what was Philadelphia’s garment district.

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