Surya Honored During Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market

Surya_Icon_Honors_and_Visual_Display_Awards

Satya Tiwari, president of Surya, holds the ICON HONORS Award for Innovation in Technology and the AmericasMart Visual Display Award.

CALHOUN, Ga. — July 16, 2014Surya received two noteworthy awards during the recent Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market®, including an ICON HONORS Award for Technology Innovations in recognition of the home accessories brand’s comprehensive social media presence and strategy. Surya’s broad-reaching social media program includes regular postings of relevant content across multiple platforms, which can be shared by customers to generate brand awareness, showcase thought leadership and drive rug and accessory sales. The brand, which uses the “suryasocial” moniker on all of its social media sites, achieved several key milestones in 2013, including reaching 100K likes on Facebook, 5K followers on Pinterest and the launch of an Instagram page.

Surya was also recognized by AmericasMart® for outstanding visual presentation in a permanent showroom. Surya won a Best of Floor Award for its themed showroom, which artfully showcased a range of trends, including Modern Craft, Botanical, Heirloom and Metallic – unifying the vignettes, window displays and building lobby through use of an eye-catching bright pink color with orange and tan accents. This marks the third time that Surya has won the Best of Floor award.

“We are very honored to receive these esteemed awards,” said Satya Tiwari, president, Surya. “The Surya team works tirelessly to thoughtfully represent the depth and breadth of the Surya brand across all promotional mediums, whether that’s our social media platforms, showrooms and exhibit spaces or trade advertising. Our aim is not only to simplify the design and merchandising process for our designer and retailer customers but also to educate them on the power of social media and inspire them with fresh and innovative ideas that can be easily replicated.”

The ICON HONORS are sponsored by AmericasMart Atlanta, along with the Gift & Home Trade Association and Progressive Business Media. Honorees are selected by experts from the world of design, manufacturing and product development. AmericasMart Visual Display Award winners are determined by a distinguished panel of independent design and visual merchandising experts.

Connect with suryasocial on: Facebook, Pinterest, Houzz, Instagram , Twitter, YouTube, Google+

About Surya
With more than 35 years in the home fashion industry, Surya is the premier one-stop source for coordinating home accessories for a broad range of lifestyles and budgets. An expert at translating the latest apparel and interior design trends, Surya artfully combines color, pattern and texture to offer more than 30,000 fashion-forward products, including rugs, pillows, throws, wall decor, accent furniture, lighting, decorative accents and bedding. The company also provides a number of innovative display, merchandising and training solutions to support retailers in successfully promoting and selling home accessories. Surya currently exhibits in Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, High Point, Las Vegas, New Delhi, New York, Toronto and Tupelo. To learn more, visit www.surya.com.

About ICON HONORS
With a stable of more than 50 honorees selected through rigorous judging from among thousands of submissions and nominations recorded over its first four years, ICON HONORS recognizes the highest levels of professional and personal accomplishment. Submissions and nominations are fielded across an array of categories. ICON HONORS are conferred annually in July in conjunction with The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market. For more information, visit www.americasmarticonhonors.com.

About AmericasMart
AmericasMart Atlanta is the nation’s only global wholesale marketplace housing the world’s single-largest collection of home, gift, area rug and apparel merchandise. The largest of AmericasMart’s 14 annual Markets and shows, The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market and The Atlanta International Area Rug Market in January and July are the ignition switch for global retailing with buyers from every U.S. state and more than 90 countries discovering product in more than 1,400 showrooms and more than 2,500 temporary exhibiting companies. Located in downtown Atlanta, the AmericasMart complex contains more than seven million square feet of space. For more information, visit www.AmericasMart.com.

Groovystuff Offers Led Zeppelin Prize Pack to Las Vegas Market Shoppers

July 16, 2014

DALLAS – Groovystuff is teaming up with Warner Music Group (WMG) to promote the launch of the re-mastered first three Led Zeppelin albums by giving away a Zeppelin Prize Pack to a participating Groovystuff buyer at the Summer Las Vegas World Market, July 27-31, 2014. The Las Vegas World Market is host to more than 1,500 world-class manufacturers showing the latest industry trends at one state-of-the-art campus. Groovystuff exhibits on the Ground Floor of Building B, Showroom Number B-0146.

Buyers at the Las Vegas Market will not only be the first to view the extensive new line up of product introductions by Groovystuff, they will also have an exclusive opportunity to win a musical prize pack from a band that was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. With over 300 million albums sold worldwide, Led Zeppelin resonates with fans young and old. Groovystuff is celebrating this rock-n-roll dynasty at the Las Vegas Market by giving away a musical prize package from WMG to include:

  • Led Zeppelin Re-mastered CD Collection (1 of each CD) [click to see Re-mastered CD cover art]
  • Led Zeppelin Lithographs of each Album Cover
  • Led Zeppelin Poster & Hanging Mobile
  • Led Zeppelin Button & Coaster Set
  • Led Zeppelin Turntable Mat
  • Led Zeppelin Tote Bag & T-Shirt

In 1968 Led Zeppelin came together as a group, and over the next decade, the band would become one of the most influential, innovative and successful groups in modern music. Chris Bruning, company founder and co-sponsor of the promotion added, “Groovystuff is a manufacturer that specializes in furniture, lighting and home décor designed to meet the demographic of buyers in the Led Zeppelin audience so this promotion is something that our buyers can relate to.”

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Founded in 1998 by Chris Bruning, Dallas-based Groovystuff designs, produces, and distributes unique, eco-friendly, reclaimed teakwood home furnishings at upper-medium and high-end price points.

Surya Employees Do Habitat for Humanity “Build Day” in Calhoun

CALHOUN, Ga. — July 10, 2014 — Twenty Surya employees and their family members recently participated in a Habitat for Humanity home build in the Calhoun, Georgia area. The Surya team rolled up their sleeves, volunteering their time and energy on a Saturday to help landscape the new home, which is scheduled to be completed by early fall. The project is part of an initiative by Habitat for Humanity of Gordon County, Georgia.

Surya employees gave generously of their time at the Habitat for Humanity homesite in Calhoun, Ga.Surya employees gave generously of their time at the Habitat for Humanity homesite in Calhoun, Ga.

“At Surya, we are unified in our commitment to serving the communities in which we live, work and serve each day,” said Satya Tiwari, president, Surya. “Participating in the Habitat for Humanity project not only provides us with the opportunity to support our neighbors in Calhoun but also builds our team spirit through a shared undertaking that will make a lasting difference.”

Tiwari, who grew up in a small village in Northeastern India understands the importance of helping local communities. Each year, Surya sponsors a number of initiatives in the villages where its weavers reside, including providing 7,300 schoolchildren in rural India with nutritious lunches via Akshaya Patra and donating high school scholarships for 200 Indian girls through East Meets West. The company also sponsors educational and vocational training for 160 students through Project Mala.

Surya looks forward to participating in a local Habitat for Humanity project again in the near future, with plans to volunteer on an ongoing basis.

To learn more about Surya’s commitment to social responsibility, visit www.surya.com/social-responsibility.

About Surya
With more than 35 years in the home fashion industry, Surya is the premier one-stop source for area rugs and coordinating home accessories for a broad range of lifestyles and budgets. An expert at translating the latest apparel and interior design trends, Surya artfully combines color, pattern and texture to offer more than 30,000 fashion-forward products, including rugs, pillows, throws, wall decor, accent furniture, lighting, decorative accents and bedding. The company also provides a number of innovative display, merchandising and training solutions to support retailers in successfully promoting and selling home accessories. Surya currently exhibits in Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, High Point, Las Vegas, New Delhi, New York, Toronto and Tupelo. To learn more, visit www.surya.com.

About Habitat for Humanity of Gordon County
Habitat for Humanity of Gordon County is a nonprofit housing ministry that builds affordable, structurally sound homes for low income families in the community. Partner families are selected based on their need, ability to repay a no-interest mortgage, and willingness to partner with Habitat. They invest hundreds of hours of labor—sweat equity—into building their own homes and the homes of others. Because the houses are built with volunteer labor and some donated materials, mortgage payments are very affordable for partner families. Their mortgage payments provide the funds to build even more houses in the community. For more information, visit www.gordonhabitat.org.

Home Depot Executive to Headline WithIt Professional Conference

July 8, 2014

GREENSBORO, N.C. — After five years at the marketing helm for The Home Depot, one of the world’s largest retailers with more than 2,000 stores, the leadership trait Trish Mueller says she values most – in herself and others – is political acumen.

It’s really about understanding your audience, “which is probably more of an art than a science,” she explains.  “If you lack political acumen, you won’t be successful.”

Mueller will deliver the keynote address, “The Art & Science of Leadership,” for the 2014 WithIt Professional Conference August 11-13 at the Atlanta Marriott Buckhead Hotel and Conference Center.

As the senior vice president and chief marketing officer for The Home Depot, Mueller is responsible for the company’s strategic marketing vision, as well as brand development. Her journey to senior leadership at the home improvement retail giant has included senior marketing management roles at The Sports Authority and American Signature – the $1 billion furniture retailer based in Columbus, Ohio – as well as 15 years at Montgomery Ward.

In recent years, as she has worked to develop her team at The Home Depot, Mueller says she has come to appreciate the value and importance of political acumen.  She describes it as understanding the power structure within an organization and being able to maneuver through that structure to frame and sell your ideas.

“It’s not about manipulating people,” she cautions. “It’s about understanding their motivation and creating win/win situations.” The result is more adept communications that produce desired results.

The WithIt Professional Conference is open to all industry professionals. Registration is available online at www.withit.org. For a special group rate at the Atlanta Marriott Buckhead, which is centrally located in the heart of the Buckhead business, shopping and entertainment district, call 404-261-9250 and request the WithIt Conference rate of $159.

A complete conference agenda also is available on the WithIt website conference page. Highlights include:

  • The Art of Empowerment: Straight Talk on Confidence and Courage, presented by Becky Blalock, managing partner at Advisory Capital, and author of the 2013 book, “DARE: Straight Talk on Confidence, Courage and Career for Women in Charge.”
  •  The Art of Networking: Essential Relationship-Building Inside and Outside Your Company, presented by Helen Lollis, partner and president of Pathbuilders, Atlanta.
  • The Science of Advancement: What’s Choking the Pipeline of Women to the C-Suite, presented by Paula Scott Fogarty, who served as president of Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Kindel Furniture from 2000-2006, and is now researching and writing a book on the role of women in the furniture industry.
  • The Art of Living a Life of Purpose: How to Volunteer, Give Back and Make an Impact, presented by Lisa Robison and Kim Turner, founders of the Dallas-based non-profit Dwell With Dignity.
  • The Science of Harnessing Technology: Tools That Pump Up Productivity, presented by Krisstina Wise, founder and CEO of Good Life Companies.

The program also includes the Art of a Good Time, as WithIt members and guests gather for their annual silent auction, appreciation dinner and entertainment from Atlanta folk singer Amy Andrews on Tuesday evening, August 12.

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 WithIt is a non-profit organization founded to encourage mentoring, education, networking and leadership development for professional women in the home and furnishings industries. It is based in High Point, N.C.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Sara Lyke
336-880-2188
director@withit.org

AHFA Marketing Summit 2014

July 3, 2014

HIGH POINT, NC – Technology has changed the way Americans live, work and communicate, and home furnishings marketing executives must stay one step ahead of those changes to connect with today’s consumers.

“The ability to see around the bend and anticipate changes in the marketplace is the hallmark of successful marketing strategies,” says Jackie Hirschhaut, vice president of public relations for the American Home Furnishings Alliance.  “AHFA’s Annual Marketing Meeting will feature forward-thinking executives from both inside and outside our industry who will help marketers explore a wide variety of technological platforms for reaching consumers.”

“Marketing Reboot: Changing World…Changing Channels” is the theme for the 2014 event, slated August 6-8 at The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City.  Registration is available on the EVENTS page of the AHFA website at www.ahfa.us.

Adrian Madland, a 10-year veteran of Google who works with clients in the specialty retail sector, will headline the meeting with an exploration of digital solutions to driving business. Based in Ann Arbor, Mich., Madland helps Google business clients integrate online and offline strategies using Google’s full portfolio of products and services, including Google Search, YouTube, Mobile and Display.

Also on the program is Beth Brenner, chief revenue officer of the new Domino Media Group, home to Domino magazine and domino.com, a first-of-its-kind e-commerce site. The quarterly Domino magazine has a circulation of 200,000 and a $12 cover price. The new domino.com website uses both original and archived content to inspire consumers to buy what they love – without ever leaving the site.

Brenner, who was Domino’s original publisher from 2005-2009 and, more recently, was publisher of Meredith Corporation’s Traditional Home, will de-mystify Domino’s new business model and discuss the unique relationship between content and commerce in the new business environment.

Brothers and business partners Jeff and Jason Harris, both executive vice presidents at Furnitureland South, Jamestown, N.C., will shed light on yet another interactive retail venture, this one anchored in online video and a new broadband television network owned by the pair. They recently launched “Space Off,” which airs on their network and offers viewers a glimpse into the process of “real people making real decisions for decorating and designing their homes.” The shows feature online product integration, allowing viewers to click through to view or to purchase the products they see in the video.

Furnitureland South was founded by their father, Darrell, and is now the largest home furnishings store in the world.  Last summer, the brothers launched a state-of-the-art Design Center with a range of sophisticated high-tech tools for the company’s team of more than 135 design consultants. The 17,000-square-foot center incorporates interactive televisions that enable several people to view product images and information together at the same time. Positioned at eye level in collaborative work spaces, the TVs have internet access for viewing products, manufacturer websites and other online resources.

Attendees also will be the first in the industry to preview results of new consumer research exploring the generational differences between furniture shoppers.  It is the latest edition of The American Living Survey™ conducted by Design Research Reports Inc., an AHFA Supplier Division member. It is the fourth “wave” of research by the company, which profiles how Americans are living, how their tastes and style preferences are changing and what they are4 seeking in future purchases.

“We hear a lot about the Millennial generation and how big they are,” explains Rick Babick, president and founder of Design Research. “They are actually a larger age cohort than the Boomers. However, only half of them have reached the age of living on their own, and they are much poorer than the Boomers were at this same life stage due to the weak economy. Marketers need to understand these things.”

Additional presenters during the day-and-a-half meeting include:

  • Ann Looper Pryor, publisher of Landscape Architecture Magazine, the magazine of the American Society of Landscape Architects. In “Landscape Architects: Your Billion Dollar Sales Opportunity,” Pryor will describe how architects have become key players in specifying and purchasing furnishings for outdoor spaces.
  • Molly Foshay, director of creative services for Sappi Fine Paper North America, a paper mill producing 1.3 million tons of coated fine paper annually. Foshay will address the debate about the future of print, citing independent market research showing reading demographics, emotional triggers, browsing and shopping behavior and niche marketing.
  • Michael Beaulieu, director of business development for Wayfair. The nine-year veteran of the e-commerce site will talk about how Wayfair strategizes to drive traffic into brick-and-mortar stores.
  • Chris Andreson, Washington counsel for AHFA, who will provide a brief overview of key regulatory issues and their impact on the marketing of home furnishings.

Another highlight of the 2014 event will be a “retail safari” to the premier home furnishings store in metro Washington, family-owned and -operated Belfort Furniture in Sterling, Va. In addition to a visit to the 35,000-square-foot showroom, the group will join owner Michael Huber for a wine tasting and dinner at Stone Tower Winery on the grounds of the family’s 200-acre vineyard.

Registration is $700 for AHFA members and $1,500 for non-members and includes an opening reception and dinner on Aug. 6, as well as breakfast, lunch and the Stone Tower Winery tour and dinner on Aug. 7, and breakfast on Aug. 8.

Registration is available online on the Events page of www.ahfa.us.   A limited number of rooms are available at The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City, at a discounted group rate of $199 per night.  Those wishing to stay at The Ritz-Carlton are urged to make reservations early to ensure they receive the group rate.  The group’s discount code is AHGAHGA.

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The American Home Furnishings Alliance, based in High Point, N.C., represents more than 200 leading furniture manufacturers and distributors, plus over 150 suppliers to the furniture industry worldwide. AHFA is the industry’s representative on Capitol Hill and elsewhere throughout the United States on legislative and regulatory matters that impact the import and manufacture of residential furnishings.

Sklar Furnishings named 2014 Small Business Leaders of the Year by Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce

June 10, 2014 –

Rick and Pat Howard, co-founders and owners of Sklar Furnishings, have been named Small Business Leaders of the Year for 2014 by the Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce. Sklar Furnishings, which specializes in contemporary furniture, is known for its modern, high-end furniture and lighting. The retailer is a member of the North American Home Furnishings Association, for which Rick currently serves as President of the Board.

Sklar-Furnishings---Boca-Raton-Chamber Standing: Rick Howard, Troy McLellan
Sitting: Pat Howard

According to Boca Chamber CEO and President Troy McLellan, the Howards earned top billing, not only for the one-of-a-kind home and office showroom and design center they created in Boca Raton where they direct a “diversified team of credentialed home and office designers and space planners, collaborating with hundreds of custom vendors and suppliers from around the globe,” but also their “robust industry leadership roles, long-standing commitment to community and sustainable live/work philosophy, they set the standard extremely high for others who work, live, and play in Boca Raton and Palm Beach County.”

Also a member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, Sklar and the select custom furniture lines it carries is dedicated to reducing the environmental impact of its operations and use of reclaimed natural materials. What’s more, Sklar has teamed with the National Forest Initiative, donating a tree to one of Florida’s four national forests for each purchase of a wood product.

Beyond business, the Howards and Sklar are active in the community, working with Habitat for Humanity, Florence Fuller Child Development Centers, Junior League of Boca Raton and Rotary International.

NAHFA member Selden’s to be featured on Animal Planet “Treehouse Masters”

June 5, 2014 —

Be sure to check out this weeks local episode of Treehouse Masters on Animal Planet. The episode "African Safari Hut" will air this Friday @ 7pm PST. Also keep an eye out for the featured furniture, because it's all from Seldens.

North American Home Furnishings Association member Selden’s Home Furnishings is going to be featured on TV!

The retailer posted on Facebook today: “Be sure to check out this weeks local episode of Treehouse Masters on Animal Planet. The episode “African Safari Hut” will air this Friday [June 6] @ 7pm PST. Also keep an eye out for the featured furniture, because it’s all from Selden’s Home Furnishings.”

Links —
Check out some of the furniture Treehouse Masters used
About the Show
Treehouse Masters on Facebook

Industry Associations Continue Joint Efforts On Prop 65 Relief

June 3, 2014 —

 

Successful NAHFA/AHFA Meeting in Sacramento Yields Proposed Solutions to Product Labeling

SACRAMENTO, CA – Representatives from the North American Home Furnishings Association (NAHFA) and the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) met with officials from the California Office of Environment and Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) May 19 to discuss Proposition 65 product labeling challenges within the home furnishings industry.

“AHFA and NAHFA have been working with California officials, legal experts and our respective member companies on Prop 65 issues for more than a year,” notes AHFA CEO Andy Counts. “Our two associations have been in regular, sometimes weekly, conversations about best practices for our member constituencies.”

During the May 19 meeting, the parties discussed the possibility of a “general retail warning” that could appear in California stores to meet Prop 65 requirements. The law requires stores to warn consumers when a product contains a chemical “known to the State of California to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm.” There are more than 800 such chemicals on the Prop 65 list, and more are added every year. The consumer warning must be “clear and reasonable” and be available to consumers prior to exposure – in other words, prior to purchase.

A few industries have been successful with “general retail warnings.” For example, Starbucks posts a Prop 65 warning for acrylamide on the doors of retail establishments or at the sugar/creamer station, rather than on every coffee cup. But acrylamide is a chemical that occurs naturally in the process of roasting coffee beans – so it is present in all coffee. The furniture industry, on the other hand, uses chemicals that may be present in some products but not in others within a single retail environment.

“A general retail warning would help solve our industry’s challenge of notifying consumers about the presence of a particular chemical in some products,” notes Bill Perdue, AHFA’s vice president of regulatory affairs, who attended the Sacramento meeting on AHFA’s behalf. “But a warning on a furniture store door would not necessarily be product-specific.”

Therefore, to augment the general warning, the two associations discussed the possibility of language that might appear on a purchase receipt. Receipts for furniture purchases are generally retained by the customer for warranty purposes, unlike hangtags or other point of purchase materials, which are often discarded after delivery.

“Working with AHFA in these talks and meetings with OEHHA is important,” says NAHFA CEO Sharron Bradley. “I’m encouraged by our progress and hopeful that OEHHA will continue to be receptive.”

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The American Home Furnishings Alliance, based in High Point, N.C., represents more than 200 leading furniture manufacturers and distributors, plus over 150 suppliers to the furniture industry worldwide. AHFA is the industry’s representative on Capitol Hill and elsewhere throughout the United States on legislative and regulatory matters that impact the import and manufacture of residential furnishings.

The North American Home Furnishings Association (NAHFA) was founded in 2013 with the merger of the three largest home furnishings retailer associations in the U.S. The NAHFA is the nation’s largest organization devoted specifically to the needs and interests of home furnishings retailers, with more than 1,800 members representing more than 7,000 storefronts across all 50 states and several foreign countries. Association offices in the East, West, and Central United States provide its members with programs, resources, services, and a unified voice in government relations by partnering with home furnishings industry suppliers, vendors, affiliates, and other organizations. For more information on the NAHFA visit www.nahfa.org.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Jackie Hirschhaut, AHFA, 336/881-1016
Lisa Casinger, NAHFA, 800/422-3778,ext. 305

Getting to Know the Next Gen: Alex Macias

June 1, 2014 —

RetailerNOW: How did you come into the home furnishings industry?

Alex: I joined our family business in 2007. Back then I didn’t have a title. I guess you could say I was in charge of doing everything no one else wanted to do, or didn’t know how to do. Before 2007 I had worked in several areas of the business—cashier, deliveries, sales, and I eventually got into buying. I’m currently the vice president and oversee all operations related to the retail part of our business.

RetailerNOW:  What changes have you seen in the industry?

Alex: With only seven years in the industry and really only three actively participating in industry events, it’s hard to say. Everyone has told me it was a blessing that I joined the industry during the recession because it taught a valuable lesson: There are ups and downs and you need to save for those tough years, it’s a cycle. It seems business is much better for those of us who made it through. I have also seen a big focus by retailers and vendors to recruit and mentor the next generation. As the years pass, I see more and more young faces at markets and conferences, and I see them taking on bigger roles. The companies that have embraced this have seen a quick return on this investment.

RetailerNOW: Why do you think it’s such a challenge for our industry to recruit and retain the next generation?

Alex: It’s a shame this industry doesn’t have better PR. The first thing people think about when it comes to running a furniture store is that it means long hours, working weekends and holidays, and dealing with employees and customers. I would have to say, in the seven years I’ve been in the business, that is not my only impression. The furniture industry is a lot of hard work but it’s also so much fun. I hear a lot of complaining and negative comments from the current generation running the industry—business isn’t what it used to be, the Internet is destroying the industry, people aren’t buying as much furniture, vendors are commoditizing the product, customers’ expectations are too high, employees are hard to recruit and keep, etc. Why would your son or daughter want to join a business or work in an industry that you constantly complain about? Change is upon the industry and those who realize it’s an opportunity will do well. Like Randy Pausch, said, “Complaining is not a strategy.”

RetailerNOW: In your opinion, what challenges do our industry face in general?

Alex: Technology! It’s incredible how behind the furniture industry is compared to other retail industries. I think this has a lot to do with not embracing the new generation that grew up with computers and the Internet. I really think this is a great opportunity for our generation to come in and change this. It’s also a great opportunity for young entrepreneurs who are looking for an industry to make a difference in. I don’t understand why people are scared of ecommerce. Online retailers will never have what a good brick-and-mortar furniture store has; a showroom full of furniture with expert associates. Buying furniture is hard, people need help. I don’t care if you give me 20,000 sofas to pick from, I want to ask questions and sit in it.

RetailerNOW: As a consumer (not just of home furnishings products)—what do you expect and want from a shopping experience? Which retailers get it right? 

Alex: Make it easy for me to buy. If you don’t have log in with Facebook button – hassle! If you don’t have a pay with Paypal, Amazon, Google wallet option– hassle! Make me wait two weeks for delivery – hassle! No returns – hassle! Make it easy to buy, have great customer service, give me ads/coupons that are relevant to me, and if I don’t like it – I’m sending it back.

Which companies do it right? Amazon, Zappos, Macys, Costco, Apple, Chick-fil-A, and Ikea.

RetailerNOW: You are one of the founders/leaders of the NGN group—why are you so passionate about this group and why do you feel it’s important to the industry? 

Alex: I love our family business, my job, and this industry. The mission of this group is a perfect fit for me. There are great people in this industry and our group has come across so many wonderful mentors! There is so much opportunity right now in the furniture industry and this generation has everything it needs to run with it. I want to help recruit, network, and promote all of these young people so we can get this rolling faster! There are so many talented individuals that are on the verge of making a difference. It’s a shame at times it’s their own parents holding them back, or even their direct boss. I’m so lucky my parents have allowed me to have an important role in our family business. I hope other parents and business owners will see the potential. We will make mistakes, but we learn fast and we don’t quit!

Next Generation-NOW

Next Generation NOW (NGN or Next Gen NOW) is a community of young, passionate and engaged home furnishings professionals. Next Gen NOW seeks to give a voice to the unique needs of future generations entering the workforce to educate the industry on how to attract and keep young talent. Connect with members online at social.ngnow.org or on Twitter @ngnow.

Into The Great Wide Open

June 1, 2014 —

In case you haven’t noticed, outdoor furniture has become a hot category in home furnishings. According to an upcoming Freedonia study, Outdoor Furniture & Grills, U.S. demand for this segment is expected to rise 4 percent annually through 2017.

Lee Beatrous, production manager for Groovystuff says, “I have seen reports that the U.S. outdoor furniture industry is expected to reach $4.4 Billion by 2015. With steady growth throughout the early and mid-2000s (with the exception of the 2008 hiccup) the outdoor market has remained strong in its growth pattern.”

Beatrous attributes this growth to “the change in lifestyle and the general population’s idea of the importance of spending more time with family and enjoying the present place and moment. The hurried pace lifestyle that people are living is also an encouragement to enjoy the luxuries of home when time is spent there.”

ProductFocusOutdoorLaneVenture ABOVE: This grouping from Lane Venture includes the Clare sofa, with a marine-grade wood frame, removable slipcovers, and aluminum legs; chairs and woven tables from the St. Simons collection with hand-woven polyethylene synthetic fiber on cold-drawn premium aluminum frames; and a cocktail table from the Industrial Renaissance collection, with a solid aluminum top with sound padding and an extruded aluminum base.

Weather obviously has a big impact on outdoor furniture sales. Teresa Buelin, vice president of sales and marketing for Heritage Home Group/Lane Venture says the “long bad winter didn’t help with first quarter sales, but that means there’s pent-up demand.”

Distribution channels for outdoor furniture have changed in the last several years as more traditional furniture retailers jumped into the category.

“Traditional furniture stores are looking for a new revenue source and outdoor living is such huge category now,” Buelin says. “There are so many complimentary products that help sell the furniture: outdoor lighting, rugs and accessories. Selling outdoor typically means a larger sale—at least five or six pieces.”

PFOutdoorGroovystuffoutdoorpicTF-1027

Rory Rehmert, vice president sales and marketing for Pride Family Brands and past chairman of the International Casual Furnishings Association, adds that retailers are recognizing that the sales-per-square-foot for outdoor are almost double that of other furnishings categories.

Adding outdoor furniture comes with a bigger learning curve than does another category such as youth for example. The materials, construction, warranties, vendors and markets are different.

One of the challenges retailers face is in competing with casual furniture retailers, according to Beatrous. “The competition is tough,” he says. “A few [casual] retailers have a stronghold on the market so you need proper knowledge and research to break into it.”

Rehmert says while traditional retailers do need to “learn about the attributes of the products, components and construction,” there are many opportunities for education including trade shows such as the International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market.

Outdoor furniture styles and designs has become as on-trend and fashion-forward as indoor furniture as consumers embrace the idea of extending their living spaces with outdoor rooms. Buelin says conversation seating, especially surrounding the increasingly popular fire pit, is big right now as is the use of mixed materials a woven sofa with an upholstered chair and aluminum table. “Consumers want their outdoor living space to be eclectic, just like indoors,” she says.

ProductFocusOutdoorPrideFamily

ABOVE: The English Garden Collection from Pride Family Brands features hand-woven aluminum, original castings, hand-painted detailing and tailored cushioning. Castelle luxury fire pit features state-of-the-art functionality and durable cast and extruded aluminum construction. 

“The luxury outdoor furnishing category continues to grow,” Rehmert says. “For those buyers, the ability to purchase custom designed furnishings is a growing trend. Nearly 50 percent of our production is driven by custom orders. We’re also seeing tremendous popularity in our fire features in the luxury category. The entertainment factor incorporated into these features creates an add-on interest from homeowners.”

Beatrous says trends vary depending on location and changing lifestyles, but one trend he sees as universal among all furniture categories is the “desire for eco-friendly furniture.”

The facts are there—the outdoor market is growing. More traditional furniture retailers are cashing in on this once ignored segment. Maybe it’s time to find out if exploring the great wide open makes sense for your business.