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Blumkin was born to a Jewish family as Rose Gorelick in Schidrin near Minsk, Belarus where her father was a rabbi and her mother ran a grocery store. When she was twenty, Rose married Isadore Blumkin. Blumkin immigrated to the United States in 1917 and Omaha, Nebraska in 1919 where she started a used clothing store and then opened the Nebraska Furniture Mart in 1937 originally selling used furniture.
Blumkin grew that business to become the largest indoor furniture store in America and eventually sold 90% of the business to Buffett in 1983 for $60 million. Blumkin later opened another store and started competing with Buffett with "Mrs. B's Clearance and Factory Outlet across the street from the Furniture Mart" until Buffett acquired that company as well with a non-competition clause. Blumkin continued to be involved in day-to-day operations until shortly before her death at the age of 104.
Blumkin was also an active philanthropist and namesake of the Rose Blumkin Performing Arts Center, and large donor to the Omaha Jewish Community Center. She received honorary degrees from New York University and Creighton University.
Blumkin was buried in the Golden Hill Jewish Cemetery.
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