Max Contemporary Furnishings | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Max Contemporary Furnishings

Shopkeeper Tommie Goodman showcases stylish, contemporary home furnishings in Max.

Shopkeeper Tommie Goodman showcases stylish, contemporary home furnishings in Max. Photo by Brandi Herrera Pfrehm

While the retail landscape is changing all over the Jackson metro area, the real renaissance has been happening in Fondren for years. There couldn't be a more apt benchmark to measure its success than Max Contemporary Furnishings in the Fondren Corner building. Five and a half years ago, design guru Tommie Goodman, 56, settled into the space after moving the store from Pear Orchard Road in Ridgeland, where it had been for 15 years. The punchy design firm/retail space is a showcase of all things mod-to-the-minute and it's been Goodman's ability to roll with the punches and mix up her business strategy that's given it such incredible staying power. We can see this fearless shopkeeper leading the pack of local shops for years to come.

Why and how did you come to open a retail space?
I majored in interior design, and even though I put myself through school drafting for architects, I really love retail over everything. No one in my family has ever been in retail, but since I was a little kid, I loved it—design, display, color. Things on paper bore me, and even though I have to do floor plans (for interior design), I'd much rather deal with three-dimensional things. When I was getting my BFA (at Louisiana State University), I preferred pottery and sculpting to drawing. And I've always had an interior-design firm. It's one thing to sell a bowl; it's another thing to do an entire room. It's like art that someone lives and works in; it's wonderful.

Who primarily makes up your clientele?
I get everyone from grandmothers with leopard dresses to children who want a monkey bank and everyone in between. Young professionals come in wanting to express their own personality. They're individuals. … They're fearless. MAX is not the norm; we aren't as big as Miskelly; therefore, our market is small. It's more of a niche. People who come here are very decisive. You don't come into a contemporary furnishings store and say, "I don't know … do I like this, do I not?' They're great to work with because they're diverse, and it's fun to work with their individual tastes.

Thirty-three years is a long life for any business—clearly you've done something right. What's your secret?
Well, you have to be able to roll with the punches. I was talking to a young person (in retail) and she asked, "Tommie, what about the economy?" I said, "Well girl, you just have to go with it; you have to make changes." I've been through the oil boom, the oil crash, the Gulf War, 9-11. … I've been through all of that—The first 10 years I was in Baton Rouge, and then I moved to Jackson—and the business survived. When the world changes, you have to change, too. Sometimes that's not fun. You have to cut back on your overhead, inventory, employees. And then I cut my space in half. You have to be flexible. The economy isn't great so I sell (fewer) high-end items now. It's so much more fun when you're affordable to everyone and can still keep the amazing design quality. But in the end, I've always sold contemporary. That's never changed.

What's in a Name?

"Max was my dog! I was 23 when I started, and had this short-haired Saint Bernard that drooled all over everything, and I took him everywhere. … I named my business after him."

Max Contemporary Furnishings
2906 N. State St. (first floor of Fondren Corner)
Shopkeeper: Tommie Goodman

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