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From Home Furnishing Business

Consignment Stores

Consumers eager to buy new furniture are often just as eager to get rid of their old furniture – but there’s one small problem.
Unlike car dealers, furniture stores generally don’t take trade-ins, so moving out that old furniture can be a hassle, at best. And at worst, it can’t be moved at all, which may prevent the consumer from making the purchase.
Doug Wolf, president of Pennsylvania-based Wolf Furniture, saw this objection raised far too often and decided to find an answer.
No, he didn’t hire a bunch of car salesmen to begin wheeling and dealing on trade-ins. He developed a completely new business model built around consignment sales.
Called Alleghany Furniture Consignment, the results, he says, have been impressive. Start with a $400 average ticket at 60 points gross margin, and finish with zero inventory costs and minimal warehousing and delivery expenses.
“Our consignments do better than some of our closeouts or our clearance center,” Wolf said. “People feel like consignment products are in better condition and have been better cared for.”
AFC stores are now adjacent to three Wolf Furniture locations, and the consignment businesses are operated separately from the main furniture store. Wolf Furniture sales associates receive a referral bonus if one of their customers brings a consignment piece to AFC, but don’t get a commission from the consignment sales themselves.
“Our sales people tell us (the opportunity to sell old furniture on consignment) will help complete the sale,” Wolf said. “The customer is more ready to pull the trigger on a new furniture purchase.” According to the trade group NARTS, the Association of Resale Professionals, Wolf’s experience is not unusual, noting that the resale industry (which includes antique shops) has annual revenue of about $17 billion. Goodwill Industries alone, the group said, generated $5.37 billion in sales in 2014 from its more than 2,000 non-profit stores -- most of which have furniture.
“The resale market is blossoming, thanks to value conscious consumers,” the group said in a recent report on industry trends. “With an increasing awareness of the importance of reducing pointless waste, we are progressing from a disposable society to a recycling society -- a change that has enormous potential for the resale industry as a whole.”
NARTS estimates there are more than 25,000 resale and consignment stores in the United States.
“Resale shopping attracts consumers from all economic levels,” the association’s report read. “There is no typical resale shopper, just as there is no typical resale shop. No one is immune to the excitement of finding a treasure and saving money,” Wolf has developed a proprietary software package that keeps track of the consignment pieces in each store, and automatically marks down the price of each piece every 30 days. Consignment contracts typically run for 90 or 120 days, but he said most pieces sell during the first month.
If a piece doesn’t sell that quickly, the price goes down 15% after 30 days. After 60 days, AFC takes 40% off the initial price, and after 90 days, it’s 50% off.
AFC then splits the consignment sale price 50/50 with the consumer, and it’s up to the buyer of the piece to get it out of the store. (AFC does make referrals to local delivery services, however.)
If a piece hasn’t sold by the end of the consignment period, the consigner has seven days to pick it up. However, Wolf said such consigners usually tell AFC they don’t want it back, so AFC marks it down further and keeps 100% of the selling price.
The consignment stores are promoted through television and Internet ads as a type of “treasure hunt” where inventory turns over rapidly and “there’s always something new on the floor.”
The key to keeping those bargain-hunters coming back, Wolf said, is finding high-quality consignment pieces. He said AFC turns down about 60% of the pieces offered for consignment because they don’t meet their “gently used” standard.
That means AFC won’t accept anything with torn or ripped upholstery, lots of pet hair, broken or missing hardware, or deep scratches on the wood. And all doors and drawers must work properly.
Once accepted for consignment, the piece is listed on AFC’s website, www.afcshop.com and consumers who have their eye on a particular piece can get alerts on their mobile phone as soon as the price is marked down.
Thus far, Wolf has licensed the consignment software to one other retailer -- Delaware-based Johnny Janosik Furniture, who has operated one consignment store as Delmarva Furniture Consignment since early 2014 -- and is hoping to attract others.
“We’ve been very pleased with it,” said David Koehler, chairman of Johnny Janosik. “As long as a piece is in good condition, it sells pretty quickly.”
He agreed that the key to keep sales humming is to accept only top-quality pieces for consignment.
“It’s not so much about getting traffic through the door. There are always plenty of bargain shoppers or people on a treasure hunt,” Koehler said. “You’ve got to have good consigners willing to sell good pieces.”
In Johnny Janosik’s trading area, he said retirees and Baby Boomers downsizing their homes are often good sources of consignment pieces, as are more affluent consumers who own beach houses or other vacation properties.
Long-term, Wolf hopes to develop the furniture industry equivalent of Kelley Blue Book, the price Bible of the used car industry.
“Most people have no idea what value to place on a piece of furniture,” he said “If they went to 50 stores, they would get 50 different prices. A resource like that would make furniture a much more saleable asset.”
He realizes the myriad of styles and collections would present a huge challenge, but believes it’s important to give consumers at least “a ballpark price” on their used furniture.
“I want to give them an idea of what their existing furniture is worth so they can buy new furniture,” Wolf said

Larger Floor Plans Top Trends in New Home Building

New home purchases spur new home furnishings purchases like no other life event. As home building continues its slow but steady comeback from the recession, new trends in home building are emerging creating opportunity in many home furnishings product areas. Chief among the trends: Single-family homes are getting bigger – much bigger – (Figure 1) and lot sizes smaller.


According to a new HUD report, 477,000 new single-family one-unit houses were completed for resale in 2015, a number that is still only 37 percent of pre-recession levels in 2006. Single-family home building is up 23 percent since 2009 and for the first half of this year, new home completions are up 14 percent from the first half of 2015.

Some trends point to Millennials as they age as well as older, more established GenX families. These trends include an increase in multi-story homes with more bedrooms, baths, and multiple patios, porches and decks. Other trends point to the ballooning senior population downsizing to age-restricted communities with less interest in some design features such as fireplaces, but more interest in comfort features.

Houses are getting bigger and lot sizes are getting smaller

The median size of new homes grew 23.3 percent from 2000 to 2015– increasing from 2,060 square feet to 2,540 square feet according to the new report “Characteristics of New Single-Family Houses in 2015” from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). During the same time period, median lot size decreased 4.6 percent from 8,930 square feet to 8,521 square feet or about one-fifth of an acre. Table A compares the percent growth in new house sizes to lot sizes, 2000 to 2015. The drop in 2009 reflects the bottom of the recession.


As of 2015, over half (58 percent) of new single-family home lot sizes are less than 9,000 square feet or just over one-fifth of an acre. Moreover, lot sizes (cluster homes) under 7,000 square feet increased to 36 percent of new homes built.

Even with the housing market collapse in 2009, new homes have continued to get bigger since 2002. As shown in Table C, only 37 percent of new homes built in 2002 were over 2,400 square feet. Fast forward 13 years and 56 percent of new houses are now 2,400 square feet or larger. Also important is that in 2002, 34 percent of new homes were smaller than 1,800 square feet compared to only 15 percent in 2015.


More Bedrooms, Bathrooms, Stories, and Outdoor Living

As houses have increased in size, more bedrooms have become the norm. Over 53 percent of new single-family homes built in 2015 have four or more bedrooms – up from 38.2 percent in 2009 (Table D). Three-bedroom homes, once the majority in new constructions, have decreased from 52.6 percent to 40.7 percent since the recession – a drop of 23 percent. Homes with more bedrooms create product opportunities, not only for bedroom furniture, but also home office or other alternative uses.



Along with more bedrooms, a big jump has occurred post recession in the number of bathrooms. The percentage of new homes with three baths or more grew by 105 percent – from 23.6 percent of new houses to 41.1 percent in six years (Table E). Multi-story new single family homes are on the rise with 63 percent built in 2015 versus 58 percent in 2009 (Table F). Partly due to declining lot sizes paired with desire for bigger homes, single-story houses were down to 37 percent of completions in 2015.


As outdoor living has become a major feature in many new homes, multiple porches, patios, and decks are trending for the larger homes– up to 46 percent in 2015 from 43 percent in 2010 (Table G).

 

Laundry Rooms, Fireplaces, and Air Conditioning

As more new houses are being built with multiple stories, laundry rooms are moving out of the basement and off the main floor and up to top floor (second floor).


In 2015, 29 percent of new homes have top floor laundry rooms compared to 16 percent in 2009 – an increase of 81 percent.

A surprising trend especially given the increasing size of new homes is that fireplaces are becoming less important except in the Northeast (Table I). And while over half (51 percent) of the new homes being built still have fireplaces, this is down from 61 percent in 2002. In the Northeast fireplaces are still important – climbing from 62 percent of new homes in 2002 to 66 percent of in 2015.


Air conditioning is becoming the norm across the country with 94 percent of new homes built with AC in 2015 – up from 89 percent in 2002 (Table J). The fastest increase in new houses built with air-conditioning has been in the Northwest and West – both jumping 10 percentage points from 2002 to 2015.

 

Age-Restricted Developments and Homeowners’ Associations

Another important new trend in new home communities, especially in the South, is the increase in the number of age restricted developments (generally 55+). Although still less than 5 percent of new homes built in 2015, these neighborhoods have increased 54 percent from 2009 to 2015 (Table K). The Midwest and South doubled construction in age restricted developments since 2009 while the Northeast declined 33.3 percent indicating seniors making this lifestyle move want to escape the colder climates. The West showed no growth. The growth in these age restricted communities may partially explain the decline in fireplaces in warmer climates as they become less important to seniors.


New single-family houses are increasingly being built in communities with structured homeowners’ associations (HOAs), except in the Northeast. In total, new homes with HOAs jumped 11 percentage points from 2009 to 2015 – 62 percent to 73 percent. In the South these structured communities are especially important with 81 percent of new homes built in neighborhoods with an HOA. Meanwhile, in the Northeast in 2015, homes built in HOA communities represented only 40 percent of the region’s new construction.


As the population ages, Millennials and Baby Boomers will be defining the trends in new homes. Millennials may enter the home buying process a little later than earlier generations, but the demand will be there. Meanwhile the growth in new senior lifestyle communities is projected to accelerate. If the current new home trends continue, home furnishing product areas in bedroom and outdoor will be a main focus as well as lifestyle furniture designed for senior living.

 

Avoiding Some of the Pitfalls of New Technology

This month’s theme deals with Retail Innovation and new ideas that have freshened up our stale industry in the last decade or so. It is a great subject for us to address because innovation normally involves some changes to how you do things and change is not easy for most of us individually. It is even more difficult to create and drive it within an organization! Most successful businesses embrace change and are able to make it happen within the company, helping them maintain an edge on their competition.

Sometimes in our excitement and desire to embrace new ideas, we rush forward without properly considering if it is actually the best thing for us to do. Other times we might not have the discipline to properly implement a new program. As a result, we can either end up doing something that is not right for us or doing something that is right for us the wrong way - ending up in a way that doesn’t gain the maximum benefit for the change we have created.

Every situation and company is different, so it is difficult in a brief article to put forward recommendations that will work for everyone. However, we have seen some pitfalls on the sales side and can give you some cautionary advice about how to reduce the possibility of having an unintended negative result from bringing innovative new ideas, systems and/or processes into your selling organization.

First off, I must say that personally I am kind of a Geek for new technology and ideas! I love being up to date with my devices, systems and processes and enjoy the challenges of changing things I do for the better. That said, I have found that not everything that is new is necessarily better and some new things that work for one person or company, don’t work well for others. There are many reasons for this, which involve a wide range of issues from ingrained culture or habits to current knowledge or abilities.

One issue we have seen is that somewhere in the pursuit of innovation and change, companies often forget who they are and how they got there. So my main caution is that in the mad rush to embrace change, don’t forget what has worked and abandon any of the things that have helped made you successful in the past. As the old coach once said: “blocking and tackling still win football games!” Here are examples of some pitfalls to consider as you embrace new sales support systems, processes and technology:

Automated Sales Reporting Pitfall

This will open a can of worms, so let’s start with it right away! A critical element of sales management has always been the consistent reporting of accurate sales performance data, so that it can be used to measure each individual’s results on the selling floor. There are three steps to this process: gathering the numbers, organizing/tracking them and most importantly, reporting them in such a way that the sales manager can use them during the coaching process to help improve each person’s performance. In the very beginning, before computers, the sales person wrote down their daily results and gave them to the sales manager who recorded them in a spreadsheet and made calculations to come up with coachable statistics like closing rate, average sale and revenue per Up.

With the advent of computer systems, this process has become more and more automated, in some cases, to the point where no one actually “touches the numbers” until the system spits out the reports. The question is: have we streamlined the process to the point where no one actually takes ownership of the numbers and thus the results?

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for making things easier and cutting out paperwork so we can spend more time with our people and they can focus more on their customers! The point I want you to consider is that when sales people had to write down information on their sales each day, the numbers seemed to matter more to them – at the end of each day they faced how they did. When managers had to get the sheets and input them into the system, they too knew what each person had done and what had happened that day in the store – in real time. Everyone in the process had a role they understood and because of that they were better able to work together, using the reports to determine where and how to improve sales. Isn’t that better than just collecting a sheet of paper off the printer, after the fact, and putting it into a mailbox or worse yet just emailing a file to each sales person?

I can tell you that those retailers who have automated the reporting process but still kept the staff involved in all of the steps, tend to perform better. So be careful just how streamlined you make this important process and make sure that in so doing, you have not watered down the importance of “owning the numbers”.

Selling Process Pitfalls

One of the most exciting things I have seen in the last decade is the use of Tablets on the selling floor to assist and augment the process of helping a customer find the product they want and creating the room/home of their dreams! To me this is one of the greatest potential uses of new technology for the sales person. We know that the majority of people we end up seeing begin their search online and most likely visit many sites including ours, before visiting a store. So in a very real way, we are an extension or continuation of that tech based process and the more we can tie into it the better. We also know that if the sales person has to leave a customer in search of information, they have a greater likelihood of losing that sale. Lastly, having web sites, design ideas and the ability to draw or create a room with the customer on the floor using their tablet provides further excitement and can enhance the process for some customers. All of that said, there are some things you need to keep in mind as you design and implement any selling process technology:

  • A critical factor in having technology in the hands of the sales person is obviously their ability to use it “gracefully” and only when needed. Too often I have seen sales people act like a kid with a new toy and focus mainly on showing the customer all it can do instead of on how they can use it to help. Make sure anybody using Tablets/PCs to work with customers is fully trained not only in how to make the device work, but also on how to use it in the selling process – don’t assume they know, they don’t!
  • Many people are technophobic or intimidated by technology. They may not be comfortable working with a sales person using technology. In this case it could still be a good support tool to get information, but it should not be at the center of the process.
  • One of the things I have personally felt when working with a professional who is using a Tablet to take notes or to help me find something, is that it often seems to be a distraction, with the person spending more effort interacting with it than with me. We are there to create a personal touch in the process otherwise they might as well buy on the internet! Don’t let it get in the way of that happening.
  • There are some great sketching apps, which could be used to sketch with a customer during the selling process. However, in my experience they are not as quick, convenient nor as effective as a good old-fashion free hand sketch. Sketching during the selling process is meant to be a very simple and quick drawing of the room to help the sales person gather needed information and create a visual representation that will help them solve the customer’s problem. It may be powerful for design customers that are willing to sit down and spend more time on it, but for the vast majority of retail encounters using a Tablet to sketch is too cumbersome and detracts from the process, instead of facilitating it.

Other Potential New Technology Pitfalls

  • The Furniture Training Company and several vendors have created extremely useful online programs to assist retailers in their efforts to get sales people trained and keep them up-to-date. Our view is that any quality online training program you use will most certainly help improve performance. However, there is nothing that replaces in-person, face-to-face, sales training. Online and video type sessions are great at presenting information like product knowledge, but it takes hands-on training and coaching to instill the behaviors they will need to consistently apply that knowledge on the sales floor. Don’t think that you can maximize your success with only online training, best if you use both.

I am all for using an automated system to contact customers to set up delivery, get survey responses and/or just to stay in touch. They get the job done relatively well and are better than not having it happen at all. My biggest caution with any of the new technology that deals with the consumer is that we do not let it replace the person-to-person contact and relationship that separates us from the online buying process and turns customers into lifelong clients of a company. Never let an automated system completely replace the personal touch that has built all of our businesses!

Sitting is Believing

 

By Trisha McBride Ferguson

If there’s one piece of furniture that establishes the style and décor of a home, it’s the sofa. As fashionable as they are functional, sofas serve as the centerpiece to the family room, living room, den, bonus room and plenty of man caves. Together with loveseats and upholstered chairs, they provide the go-to space for relaxing and entertaining.

The stationary upholstery category continues to grow, although at a slower pace (3.74 percent for the first half of 2016) than the impressive growth posted during the same period last year (5.31 percent). In 2015, stationary upholstery sales finished at $19.32 billion, up from $18.34 billion in 2014.

Combining stationary and motion sales, the total upholstery segment comprised 38.67 percent of total furniture industry sales (excluding bedding) last year, up from 38.55 percent prior year. For this first half of this year, it is trending flat at 38.67. Factoring in bedding sales, the first half of 2016 looks slightly more positive with total upholstery sales accounting for 32.98 percent of total furniture sales, up from 32.88 percent in the same period last year.

Design Matters

A quick look at Pinterest and Houzz shows that upholstered furnishings not only anchor a room’s design and functionality, they give consumers a way to express their personal style. Yet 44 percent of consumers who bought upholstery in the last 18 months cite product selection as the biggest shopping challenge they faced, according to Home Furnishings Business’ most recent survey. Respondents cited wanting a wider selection of products as a more significant challenge than experiencing higher prices than expected (19 percent), difficulty in distinguishing differences in products (12 percent), and inexperienced salespeople (4 percent).  

As for design preferences, more than half of those surveyed (54.4 percent) identified their style as traditional, followed by contemporary (28.8 percent), country/rustic (6.3 percent), transitional (4.4 percent), cottage (3.8 percent) and mission/shaker (2.3 percent).

Shopping Savvy

It comes as no surprise that consumers are browsing and searching online before purchasing upholstery. A notable 61.9 percent of those surveyed report researching products online before making their upholstery purchase. When asked about the importance of upholstery manufactured domestically, 62.5 percent of those surveyed said they’d pay more for an item made in America.

Eco-friendly upholstery products are valuable to some, but not to a majority of shoppers. When asked about the importance of environmentally friendly furniture, 18.7 percent cited it as important, compared to 23.1 percent who classified it as unimportant—with the majority of respondents (58.2 percent) falling somewhere in the middle.

When it comes to shopping, the majority of these consumers are acting decisively. According to this survey, 39.1 percent shopped two weeks or less before purchasing, with an additional 28.6 percent buying within the first month. Their willingness to wait for custom-order upholstery mirrors this trend, with 65.3 percent of those surveyed reporting they would wait up to four weeks, 23.6 percent would wait up to eight weeks, and only 11.1 percent willing to wait longer than eight weeks.

As for brand preferences, the importance of a brand name is declining. Of respondents most recently surveyed, 63.7 percent rated the brand as somewhat influential to their purchase—the middle ground between very influential and not influential at all. This is down from the 67 percent of shoppers who responded similarly in last year’s survey.
 

Vanguard Furniture’s Brit

Rolled arms, casters, and a button-tufted back give Vanguard’s Brit sofa a casually elegant look. Ultimately configurable, its cover (available in fabric or leather), finish and embellishments can be customized. Suggested retail starts at $4,800.
 

Uptown from American Furniture Manufacturing

“This is one of our bestsellers because it has a casual, contemporary style, a soft chenille fabric with attractive coordinating toss pillows, and it’s a tremendous value at $499 for the sofa.”


Kennedy from La-Z-Boy

Petite in scale with narrow arms, the Kennedy is perfect for smaller spaces. It features welt trim, fully padded arms, and ComfortCore® zoned cushioned seating. Suggested retail as shown is $879.
 

Universal Furniture’s Corbin

Sleek and urban, the Corbin’s signature is an exposed chrome frame complemented with upholstered arm caps and loose, box cushions. It’s available in gray cloud velvet (quilted), brown leather or gray leather. Suggested retail ranges from $1,500 to $2,250.
 

HTL’s RS-11048

This sofa-chaise from HTL features slightly flared, curved arms with welt detailing and espresso-colored wood legs. It’s also available in coordinating sofa, loveseat and chair configurations. Power reclining models such as this include USB port for device charging.
 

Rachael Ray Home Collection by Craftmaster

Part of the Upstate collection for Rachael Ray Home, the R7612 Sofa is shown here in fabric Frasier 10. It features a relaxed traditional aesthetic and classic details such as pewter nailhead trim. Suggested retail sofa price is $1,299.
 

Sherrill Furniture

The 2361 Sofa from Sherrill Furniture is made in the USA and features eight-way, hand-tied construction and feather-down throw pillows. It’s shown here with the Falcon Brown fabric cover, a contrasting welt in Porto Tobacco, and bronze nailhead trim. Suggested retail is $4,439.
 

Santor from Taylor King

Transitional in style, the 85” Santor is Taylor King’s best-selling sofa. It boasts a distinctive silhouette with thin, track arms and a comfortable seat depth. Suggested retail is $5,547.
 

Bellini Modern Living’s Lauren

Luxurious without being fussy, the Lauren sofa offers contemporary styling, clean lines, and neutral versatility. Its leather cover is distinguished by unique quilted detailing on its inner arms. Suggested retail is $5,249.
 

Oliver from Best Home Furnishings

This transitionally styled sofa offers clean lines and coil-encased seat cushions. It’s available in over 700 fabrics, with a choice of pillows and finish options. Suggested retail starts at $1,099.

 

A.R.T. Furniture’s Stuart

The Stuart Sofa has a classic sleigh-style exposed wood frame with three-cushion seating. Its four pillows feature linen and animal print fabric and custom trim. Suggested retail is $3,927.
 

Magnussen Home’s Swan

Inspired by the elegance and grace of a swan, this namesake upholstery group features a curved, solid-wood exposed frame, a v-shaped back, channel tufting and luxurious coordinating accent pillows. Suggested retail is $999.
 

Klaussner’s Leisure

 “This sectional features down-blend deep seating—its slightly lower seat height is what makes it retail well.” Suggested retail is $1,999.
-Len Burke, Vice President of Marketing
 

Flexsteel’s Blake

The Blake upholstery group from Flexsteel features lifetime-warranted blue-steel spring construction and design details such as clean lines, small nailhead trim and block legs in a rich wood finish. Shown here in leather 014-07, the suggested retail for the chair and ottoman is $2,835.
 

Nicoletti Calia’s Romeo

Combining European contemporary style with modern functionality, the Romeo sofa with chaise features ultra-smooth, virtually silent, power motion. Its sleek, off-the-floor silhouette has a sculptural, stainless-steel base and is available in multiple configurations. Suggested retail is $4,999.
 

Somerton Dwelling’s Miranda

A fresh option in seating, Somerton Dwelling’s Miranda chair is stylish and comfortable. Available in a variety of fashion fabrics, it can be used as an accent chair, dining chair or desk chair. Suggested retail is $340.
 

Manhattan from Ekornes

With a fixed back, gently sloping contours and a curved exposed wood frame, the Manhattan has an evolved sense of style. It’s available in a traditional three-seat sofa, a two-seat loveseat, and chair. Suggested retail is $3,395.
 

CH Living’s Sutton

The Sutton's squared back gives it modern appeal, while its recline, glide and swivel features make it a top-seller. It boasts a hidden-release mechanism and is available in over 200 fashion fabrics—shown here in Honor Flurry. Suggested retail ranges from $675 to $825.
 

Lee Industries’ 3583-03

This classic track-arm sofa features a bench seat and three back cushions. It’s shown here in Belize Camel—a 100-percent Belgian linen, and complemented by legs in a tobacco finish.

Suggested retail starts at $3,231, as shown $4,701.
 

Hancock & Moore’s Sundance

A bestselling stationary sofa for Hancock & Moore, the Sundance exemplifies the designer aesthetic. There is a slight concavity to its shape that makes it a perfect sofa to float in a room. Subtle button detailing on the sides and nailhead trim give it universal appeal. Suggested retail is $9,825.

Innovation: A Pathway to Profitability

 


By Bob George
 

This issue’s focus is on innovation, a focus that we plan to repeat each year.  We believe that it is important to recognize the impact of game-changing developments that contribute to the future success of furniture retailing.

I have been fortunate to be involved with Impact Consulting’s performance groups over the past decade.  A cornerstone of the process is to share “Best Ideas.”  Each member prepares a written presentation that describes a best idea expanding upon why this best idea was developed, what was the approach to implementation, and finally the success of the best idea.  The members take the process seriously contributing dollars to a winner pool.  This pool is won by the idea voted the best by the group.  The ideas are often simple and receive comments from the group such as “Why didn’t I think of that?”  But more importantly, these ideas are shared with others in the group to be not only implemented, but also improved upon. 

 

As a management consultant attending these meetings with the confidentiality agreement firmly in place causes my mouth to water at the possibilities of sharing with others these unique ideas.  However, I resist the temptation and wait for the idea to emerge in the industry and it will because good ideas cannot be suppressed. Fortunately, some retailers give permission to distribute because they know that an idea is worth nothing until it is implemented.  Implementation is what differentiates great retailers from good retailers.   If the traditional retailer is to survive the onslaught of new distribution models, then innovation or more simply put best ideas, must become part of the ongoing process.  Our performance group members are consistently in the top quartile of financial performances.  The best ideas that they generate focus on specific financial elements and the results reflect that execution.

We are considering creating an industry-wide “Best Idea” contest.  There will be an entrance fee, a panel of seasoned retailers who will judge the entrants, and finally a winner to share the pot.  What do you think?  This is how innovation occurs – a single idea that evolves to a positive outcome.  Why should we leave out the manufacturers?  They need to innovate as well. 

An Update

As we communicated in the May issue we have changed the structure of our editorial staff to have editors with specific expertise in each area.  In that effort we are pleased to announce the following.

Veteran journalist, Larry Thomas, who has covered the home furnishings industry for more than twenty-five years, has joined Home Furnishings Business as business and financial editor.  In his new position he will focus on business and financial news and will write feature articles for the monthly magazine.  He will also oversee the daily newsletter, Home Furnishings Business Now, and will write additional content for the HFB website, www.HFBusiness.com. Larry’s expertise will add a depth of understanding of the business and finance implications of the issues facing the industry.  Please send any information to lthomas@hfbusiness.com.

Home Furnishings Business is pleased to have Trisha McBride Ferguson on our staff as our Product & Style editor.  She brings over twenty years of industry experience as a writer and designer.  She has worked closely with many leading home furnishings manufacturers.  She is also Editor in Chief of our customized retailer magalogs which blend consumer home decorating content with furniture product information to drive retail traffic.  Please send information about your product-related news and events to trisha@hfbusiness.com.

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