by Pete Mazzaccaro
In 2005, Linda Moran took a step from part-time interior designer to business owner when she purchased The Hill Company from the Schmidt family.
Eli Schmidt, a prominent Hill businessman, started the Hill Company in 1949 under the name Hill Hardware. It was a more traditional hardware store that began to specialize in outdoor furniture in the early 70s.
A stay-at-home mom for 18 years, Moran got a certificate in interior design from Philadelphia University. With that certificate she talked herself into a part time job at the Hill Company working for Eli’s son, Bruce. She knew she could do more with the store.
“I realized right away it was too small,” she said.
She expanded to a Blue Bell location pretty quickly, and then moved to 8040 Germantown Ave. in 2014. The new, vastly more spacious warehouse is the former home of Diane Bryman’s rugs.
In the short time she owned it, Moran grew Hill Company from its small top-of-the-hill shop roots to a massive furniture warehouse that attracts a steady stream of regular customers from Center City to the Main Line and around the Northwest Suburbs. She tripled its sales and earned the business a national award.
“I did what I wanted to do,” Moran, 71, said. “I knew I could take this little business and make it into something great, and I think we did.
So it should come as no surprise that Moran’s business attracted the attention of Summer Classics, a large furniture retailer based in Birmingham, Alabama with 13 retail locations across the country. Summer Classics, she said, is one of the main manufacturers she sells.
“They do an unbelievable job,” Moran said. “They are gorgeous, gorgeous stores, and people are going to love it. It’s going to be a real asset to Chestnut Hill.”
And Summer Classics is eager to come to Chestnut Hill.
“I am really excited about opening the 14th SC Home store in Philadelphia,” said Bew White, the Summer Classics CEO in a press release. “The Hill Company has been a longtime customer of Summer Classics, so making this deal really hit home for me.”
According to the release, Summer Classics plans to renovate the 12,000 square-foot space to reopen in early 2019. Moran said that the new store will continue to offer outdoor furniture, but is expanding to include indoor furniture as well.
It’s a far distance from that small shop she bought in 2005.
“We have spread our name out there,” Moran said of the Hill Company’s stature. “It was kind of a little Chestnut Hill secret. We made our reputation.”
Moran, who currently lives in Ft. Washington, said she’s not sure what’s next, but she and her husband are considering a move to Florida, a common vacation destination for the couple.
While she seemed ready to leave the business behind, she said she was certain she’d miss her customers.
“I poured my heart and soul into this business. Truly, I’ve worked unbelievable hours, but it’s been a labor of love” she said. “After everything, it’s all about the customers. Without them, you’d have nothing. Ninety-nine percent of them are really great people and many have become friends.”
In the meantime, Moran said she is selling as much of her inventory as she can at a steep discount.
For more on the Hill Company, see hill-company.com