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Former NFL linebacker Darryl Sharpton is now thriving with a web based furnishings retailer

Darryl Sharpton # 51 of the Houston Texans against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on October 23, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Grant Halverson | Getty Images

When the Houston Texans entered the 2020 National Football League season, as they did last season – at a loss – their former comrade Darryl Sharpton was busy winning on retirement.

The former NFL linebacker, who played a pro for five years before leaving due to injury, told CNBC that its e-commerce furniture stores are nearly doubling due to a boom in online shopping sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sharpton is the founder of furniture companies Edloe Finch and Albany Park with his wife Jessica. He said the companies that have Amazon and Wayfair as wholesale buyers had sales of $ 10 million this year, up from $ 3.9 million in 2019. However, the pandemic has forecast this year's forecast at 20 million US dollars increased.

"With Covid-19, online shopping trends have accelerated in five years," Sharpton told CNBC in an interview. "We're in a good room at a good time."

Sharpton, 33, said he was looking for investors to expand the Albany Park line. Because of a potential takeover offer for the company, he does not want to part too much with the company's stake.

Whether he's keeping the business or outsourcing it, Sharpton said the company is in a good position as the end of 2020 approaches.

Go away

Sharpton, selected by the Texans in the fourth round in 2010, retired from the NFL after signing with the Arizona Cardinals in 2015 following a variety of injuries, including a hip injury. After his Houston, he also spent time with the Chicago Bears and Washington Football Team Stint.

"I was unhappy," said Sharpton when describing his final moments in the NFL before he was injured in August 2015. A number of ankle injuries also helped derail his career. Sharpton admitted, "I couldn't take it."

He finished his career in 47 games with 176 tackles and one sack. But Sharpton had to turn down one final offer before officially canceling it. The New York Giants offered him a training session, but Sharpton said he "couldn't paddle back" if he decided to leave.

Sharpton wanted to focus on e-commerce, a passion he had had since college at the University of Miami. During his senior year, Sharpton said he stumbled upon the opportunity to sell furniture after buying a sofa from Craigslist.

He remembered going into a woman's house that served as a showroom, buying the sofa, and asking about her dealer.

"What I realized was a sofa that would play an important role in your home," said Sharpton. "To decorate a house, you need to have a sofa and a mattress."

He bought couches and marked the price at about $ 50. After exiting the NFL, he took his career earnings – approximately $ 4 million – and started his current furniture locations.

"I was fascinated by the economics of selling something to someone," said Sharpton, who was a college graduate in finance.

When asked if he regretted declining the Giants tryout because he thought he had reinvigorated his career, Sharpton said: "I would be lying if I said I never had that moment that I did Wonder what it would have been like if I'd given him someone else. But I was looking forward to the post-football life, knowing that moving from a high-paying employee to a show of my own would be riskier. "

Jessica and Darryl Sharpton on Albany Green Velvet Sofa

Source: Melissa Fitzgerald West

Go forward

Sharpton launched Edloe Finch in 2017 and Albany Park in 2019 – both as business-to-business e-commerce platforms, with Amazon and Wayfair serving as the top retail partners. His model moved to business-to-consumer after the pandemic and currently accounts for 90% of business, he said.

The Albany Park line is a box-branded sofa that "ships direct to a customer's home in three business days," said Sharpton. He and his wife design the furniture and have them made in China and Malaysia.

Despite his company's current growth, Sharpton remembered his fair share of racism when he traveled the country to attend furniture fairs. Sharpton recalled being stereotypical – often mistaken for a worker at the events – or refused entry altogether.

Fearing that the business would suffer from his being Black, Sharpton and Jessica, who are Asian and White, they initially decided to only use their face on the websites, much to his family's horror.

"Today I can't imagine myself being in this place mentally, but definitely at the time when I was [unsure] whether people would feel comfortable buying furniture from me where they might question everything – the quality, the validity, "said Sharpton.

After Sharpton grossed just $ 1.7 million in 2018, Covid-19 revenue raised the company's revenue forecast to $ 20 million this year, a pace of $ 60 million in 2021 and could reach $ 100 million in 2022.

Why sell

Sharpton plans to add furniture with African prints to the Albany Park line, which is due to hit the market in November. With revenues increasing, Sharpton said, "The need for capital is not as urgent as it was before." But he said he would entertain investors who have experience in logistics and direct marketing for consumer brands.

Darryl Sharpton

Source: Julie Soefer

Sharpton said a larger mattress in the Box Company was talking about acquiring the company. He kept the name a secret as the negotiations are still in the preparatory phase.

When asked why he'd have deals if business is going well, Sharpton said, "It's something Jessica and I talk about all the time," adding his desire to spend more time with his kids than one another factor.

He said he was torn with the possible takeover bid. "I'll be going back and forth," said Sharpton, to keep Edloe Finch and Albany Park for his children's future.

But while he makes up his mind, a pandemic continues the NFL season with Sharpton serving as one of the many spectators. Sharpton admitted he was "at peace" with the end of his football career, but admits he misses the sport's physical contact.

"I didn't know how therapeutic this was for me until now," he said. "But the aspect of being an employee, having to show up at 6 a.m., going to all meetings, training camps, I don't miss that part."

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