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From Home Furnishing Business

Retail Details : Looking For Opportunity

By Powell Slaughter

An eye for opportunity and continuing development of new market segments and services has Stacy Furniture & Design staking a claim in the highly competitive Dallas/Ft. Worth market for home furnishings.

Last year, Stacy racked up more than $42 million in sales at its Grapevine and Allen, Texas, namesake stores, an outlet store at its Flower Mound distribution center, and another location at a
former Robb & Stucky store in Plano.

Since incorporating as a retail operation in 1991—prior to that it was a wholesale furniture distributor, serving dealers in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Louisiana—Stacy has grown into a full-service home furnishings resource, building its price points into the middle and upper end, and offering full design services.

The showrooms Stacy’s customers see today are a long way from its beginnings as a store. The retail operation opened initially in the warehouse that served the original distribution business, “selling in and through our racks,” said Dorian Stacy Sims , Stacy Furniture & Design president, and daughter of founder and owner Rick Stacy .

“This proved to be cost effective but made for very difficult conditions for our customers,” Sims said. “The heat in a warehouse during a typical Texas summer can be grueling.”

Despite the less-than-ideal shopping environment, business continued to grow at a steady, dependable pace, helped along by a wave of home developments in the market.

In 1998, Rick Stacy, who Sims called “our leader, visionary, chief  ‘dreamer’” decided it was time to build a “real” store, and construction began on Stacy’s Grapevine property. That store opened in July 2000.

“His vision was a one-stop shopping experience for our customer’s home furnishing needs,” Sims said. “The Grapevine property has 40,000 square feet on the first floor dedicated to other needs for the home that Stacy’s doesn’t sell.  For instance, we have Carpet One, Morrison Appliance, Yard Art, a drop-in day care facility and a restaurant as tenants.
“The Stacy Furniture showroom is on the second floor featuring 90,000-plus square feet of stained concrete and carpeted areas displaying furniture in both category specific and lifestyle vignettes. Over the years we continue to evolve with our assortment, display and price points due to the ever-changing needs of our customer.  In 2003, we opened a similar, one-story footprint in Allen, Texas, and have had great success with that expansion of the market area.”

When Gabbert’s decided to leave the Texas market in late 2005, Stacy looked at purchasing its Fort Worth facility. The structure, however, didn’t fit Stacy’s needs, so while it passed on the building, it expanded its own reach with consumers by hiring the former Gabbert’s Design Studio staff.
“We opened Dorian’s Interior Design studio in Fort Worth in 2005 to expand our selection in higher-end goods and design services,” Sims said.
A new Trader Joe’s grocery leased that Fort Worth property in late 2011, and the Design Studio moved out, but design services for a higher-end clientele by that time were an established part of the retailer’s repertoire. And that meant a new brand to reflect Stacy Furniture’s abilities.
“This dynamic product assortment proved to be a very successful decision and a challenging one at the same time,” Sims said. “We began to incorporate more and more of the higher end lines, such as Henredon, Hickory Chair, Century and Sherrill into our existing Stacy Furniture stores until it became more efficient for us to incorporate the entire mix together and change our company name to simply, Stacy Furniture & Design. Today the customer experience at any Stacy Furniture & Design will host a wide variety of price points from Klaussner to Henredon, custom window treatments, whole house finish out and so much more.”

Stacy will be moving out of the Former Robb & Stucky location in Plano this year. The retailer had a short-term lease on the property, and while Dorian said that location has been successful, the landlord has contracted to demolish the building and replace it with multi-story office towers.
“At this time, we are currently running a moving sale event and negotiating details on another property in the North Dallas area,” Sims noted. “We’re hoping to make a ‘new home’ announcement very soon.”
The product selections between the existing Grapevine and Allen stores are primarily the same, but the feel of the two showrooms is different due to interior details. The Allen store, for instance, is a former Kmart location and has very high ceilings and carpeting. The furniture showroom segment of the Grapevine store has stained walls and tile flooring over much of the area.
“Since starting our moving sale from Plano, we’ve begun to remodel and enhance the displays at our Allen location,” Sims said. “By creating a more open feel in some areas while building smaller, power display opportunity areas the customer can shop the store with ease.”

Stacy Furniture & Design’s primary advertising medium is television.
“Rick and I personally appear in our commercials and try to balance between event driven offers as well as informative messages about products or services,” Sims said. “We are doing more and more social and digital media but are still trying to find the best balance to reach our customer.
“For several years now, biannually we’ve mailed a 44-page Magalog (an upscale catalog) piece that has been very successful in expressing to our customers what we really offer in a format customers are proud to keep on their cocktail table for months to come.”
The retailer also is working on scaling up the brand image.
“Our trade line has always been ‘if you’re not shopping at Stacy’s your burning money,’ but that just is too price-oriented, and that’s not how we want to compete,” Sims said. “We’re working on our marketing and branding to expand and talk to the current customer we’re trying to sell.”
Sims noted that Stacy Furniture & Design is in a very competitive market with very astute independent retailers and successful chain operations.
“It forces Stacy’s to keep on our toes, stay ahead of pricing issues and marketing opportunities, and ultimately makes us better merchants,” she said. “We are different in the respect that we offer a wider variety of price points and opportunities to fully address any customer’s needs—no matter the budget. From the chain perspective, you can never replace the value of a locally owned and operated, family business dedicated to great customer service.”

Like most retailers, Stacy Furniture & Design felt the heat during the recession, but Sims is optimistic about the retailer’s prospects.
She said Stacy’s had been on a consecutive sales growth pattern for 17 years until late 2008.
“While Texas was slower to feel the fall out of the economy than other areas, we have felt it,” Sims said. “Sales did drop, significantly at times, and we had to make many changes to our operation costs and cut expenses wherever possible.
“I think the most important thing we’ve learned is, most likely, you can always keep evaluating expenses and overhead to reduce waste, and it should be a priority, not fall to the back burner. For the customer, we continued to partner with manufacturers that have shorter lead times to help manage our inventory costs but also provided the customer with a quicker delivery fulfillment.”
Sims said she’s hearing good things about the housing market picking up in the market Stacy’s Furniture & Design serves.
“By continuing to expand our advertising and fine tune our product mix message, we feel we are doing a better job at reminding them how important it is to make their house a ‘home’” she said. “Boiling it down, we are continuing to advertise as much as possible to remind people that new furniture is a good thing.”  HFB


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