July 25 – Happy Birthday Donald Olender

526591The famous Amsterdam last names that became synonymous with the specific products they provided have been many through the ages. For example, Sanford will always be associated with rugs, Larrabee’s with hardware, Conover with office supplies, Hotaling with flowers, and thanks in large part to today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant, Olender with furniture.

The Rug City version of Olender Furniture was opened at 81 East Main Street in 1902 by Wlliiam Olender. His son Charles became president of the business in 1945. A year later, Olender’s moved to its iconic location at the corner of Market and Main in downtown Amsterdam.

Today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant, Donald Olender was born on July 25, 1922, to Charles and his wife Anna. He graduated from Wilbur Lynch High School in 1940 and then attended NYU. Service in WWII disrupted his college education. Young Donald enlisted in the Army shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor and served as a radar technician.

After the War, he returned to his hometown and became an integral part of the family business, eventually taking over as President from his dad and becoming the highly visible face of Amsterdam’s favorite place to buy furniture and bedding. His ability to stay on top of home furnishing styles and trends and his retail promotional skills were essential to the stores continued prosperity and growth.

Arterial projects first  began to change the face and layout of Amsterdam’s downtown in the mid 1960’s…

You can read the rest of my story about this former Amsterdam businessman in my new book “A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam Birthdays.” To order your copy, click here.

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