Zuffa Home: New Vanier store specializes in mid-century modern furniture

Photograph by Bruno Schlumberger

They’re still in university, but brothers Jamil and Elie Nassif are already savvy businessmen.

In October, they opened Zuffa Home, a furniture store in Vanier specializing in mid-century modern reproductions.

The 8,000-square-foot showroom on Montreal Road was a no-brainer for the young entrepreneurs, who had already been selling contemporary furniture and accessories online for two years. The brothers had found their niche with $1.3 million in revenue to prove it.

With financial support from their dad Georges, the duo decided it was time to expand their business from the cyber world to a bricks-and-mortar storefront in the up-and-coming Vanier neighbourhood.

“We considered Montreal, but we saw a potential in Ottawa,” says Jamil, a smooth talker and stylish dresser with a level of self-confidence well beyond his 21 years. “No one is offering what we’re offering,” he says.

Catering to young condo buyers and an older nostalgic market, there are 1960s-style Pod chairs in a rainbow of funky colours, streamlined sofas covered in rich Italian leathers, Brazilian cowhide rugs and freestanding chrome arc lamps hovering over sleek glass coffee tables. There’s even a replica of the iconic Arne Jacobsen Egg chair (Denmark, 1958) in bold red with a matching ottoman.

To keep their prices down, the Nassif brothers buy directly from manufacturers in Italy — many of whom are relatives — and handle all of their own importing rather than going through a shipping agent.

When they’re not in the store, they’re on their home computers — they both still live in Alymer with their parents — placing furniture orders and overseeing the online business.

Oh and did I mention they’re full-time economics students at the University of Ottawa?

“It’s crazy,” gushes Elie, 19, of their busy lifestyle.

Between classes, the two log about 20 hours a week each in the store, not including the time they spend in front of their keyboards. So when do they have time to date?

“Something has to be put on hold,” says the wiser older brother with a sheepish grin. “You can’t have everything.”

IF YOU GO

Location: 81 Montreal Rd., Vanier

Hours: Monday to Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Sunday.

Cool finds: Samba Italian leather sectional with built-in iPod docking station, reclining seats and adjustable headrests for $3,420; Brazilian cowhides for $300 and a 1970s-inspired clear bubble chair that suspends from a metal stand for $1,240.

Contact: 613-604-2880 or zuffahome.com

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