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APRIL 2016


Raul Toledo El Dorado Furniture

Retailer Resource Center info inside!


Accessories designed for effortless coordination. Website and catalog organized for easy product selection. Unsurpassed sales support. HIGH POINT MARKET




S H O WP L A CE 4 1 0 0

O P E N D A I LY 8 A M - 8 P M S H O P A D AY E A R LY — F R I D AY, A P R I L 1 5









1 Rethink your sales staff. 10 2 Support from peers. 32 3 New tech tools to boost your business. 44

4 5

Chip technology. 56 Revised tax laws. 66

10 WHAT’S INSIDE 2. 4. 18. 24. 30. 32. 34. 36. 56. 58.

HFA President’s Letter Editor’s Letter Member Portrait: Robert & Liz Werner Product Focus: Sustainable Furniture Next Generation: Mark Mueller Family Matters: Peer Group Support Take 2: Coconis Furniture HFA Retailer of the Year Nominees Member Benefit: Chip Card Technology HFA@Market: Exhibitors & Seminars in High Point Retailer Resource Center 66. Government Action: 2016 Tax Changes 68. HFA Community


DEPARTMENTS Cover Story 10. Sales Training for the 21st Century Operations 16. 22. 44. 48. 52.


Connect with the Affluent Customer Fishing for the Right Sales People Technology for Your Business Retailer Performance Report Stats Convert Shoppers into Customers

Sales & Marketing 50. Sales Training: Teach it or Preach it? RetailerNOWmag.com

APRIL | 2016


Change is no modern invention. It is as old as time and as unlikely to disappear. It has always to be counted on as of the essence of human experience.

President Jeff Child RC Willey

— James Rowland Angell

President-Elect Steve Kidder Vermont Furniture Galleries Vice President Jim Fee Stoney Creek Furniture

You can’t change others, but you can change yourself

Secretary/Treasurer Sherry Sheely Sheely’s Furniture Chairman Marty Cramer Cramer's Home Furnishings Executive Staff

(and HFA can help!) Jeff Child

Sharron Bradley Chief Executive Officer sbradley@NAHFA.org

HFA President

Mary Frye Executive Vice President mfrye@NAHFA.org Dan McCann Director of Marketing & Communications dmcann@NAHFA.org Membership Staff Kaprice Crawford Membership Team Leader kcrawford@NAHFA.org Jordan Boyst jboyst@NAHFA.org Sherry Hansen shansen@NAHFA.org Michael Hill mhill@NAHFA.org Jana Sutherland jsutherland@NAHFA.org Dianne Therry dtherry@NAHFA.org

Please call 800.422.3778 for membership inquires.

he first major retail holiday of the year for our company, Presidents Day, is in the books. I hope everyone had a great weekend. For us, 2015 was a good year, one in which we experienced some strong increases. It was Presidents Day 2015 when we realized the year had the makings of being very good and we were not disappointed. This year our volume was strong, but our percentage increases failed to match last year. We came to the conclusion that when we’re coming off a very good year we need to do things differently to reach the goals we have in place. Determining that is the easy part. How we come up with the ideas is a little harder. Fortunately, the Home Furnishings Association is going to help us all come up with smart ideas for 2016. Make sure you clear your calendar for May 22-24 and make the trip to Long Beach, Calif., for our annual HFA Networking Conference. Don’t be fooled by the name. Our conference is so much more than networking. Our industry is changing at incredible speeds. We have four Main Stage speakers who will help us learn how to lead and change our companies in the 21st century. You’re going to learn how to improve your bottom line, and how Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials can all work together. There will be many breakout sessions that dig deeper into the issues unique to our industry. Add to that the opportunity to network with other retailers and vendors, have some fun and enjoy Southern California, and I’m convinced it’s going to be a great conference. I can’t tell you how many ideas I’ve taken back to our business after attending one of these conferences. The one constant in life is change and the 2016 HFA Networking Conference will help us all learn to adapt to those changes. I hope to see you there.


Jeff Child Twitter.com/retailerNOW Facebook.com/retailerNOW Pinterest.com/retailerNOW


APRIL | 2016






Esteem has more engaging charms than friendship, or even love. It captivates hearts better, and never makes ingrates.

—Stanislaus Leszcynski

RETAILERNOW STAFF Lisa Casinger Editorial Director lcasinger@nahfa.org Robert Bell Editor rbell@nahfa.org

Connecting with your customers

Tim Timmons Art Director ttimmons@nahfa.org Lynn Orr Business Development Lorr@nahfa.org Cassie Wardlow Digital Marketing Coordinator cwardlow@nahfa.org

Robert Bell


Editor, RetailerNOW

Carol Bell Contents Interiors Tucson, Ariz. Travis Garrish Forma Furniture Fort Collins, Colo. Rick Howard Sklar Furnishings Boca Raton, Fla. Mike Luna Pedigo’s Furniture Livingston, Texas Andrew Tepperman Tepperman's Windsor, Ontario This Month’s Contributors

Eric Blackledge, Jeff Giagnocavo, Marty Grosse, David McMahon, Bill Napier, Connie Post, Wayne Rivers, and Tom Shay. Contact Us RetailerNOW 3910 Tinsley Dr., Suite 101 High Point, NC 27265 RetailerNOWmag.com 800.422.3778

arilynn is a blackjack dealer at The Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. I had the fortune (or from my wallet’s perspective, misfortune) of running into her the few nights I wasn’t exhausted from a long day at the Las Vegas Market. When she saw my market badge she got excited. Turns out she and her husband were buying a bedroom set later that week! As Marilynn told it, the process wasn’t easy. She and her husband visited three stores before they chose a bedroom set they both liked. I asked her who the manufacturer was and she couldn’t remember. I asked her what the style was and she couldn’t describe it. Then I asked her about the person who sold her the bedroom set. His name is George. Marilynn couldn’t remember much about her new bedroom set, but she knew everything about George. He has two kids, April and Jasmine. They moved to Las Vegas from Baltimore six years ago to be closer to his family. On and on she went. There’s something about good salesmen and saleswomen we connect with. They help lower our defenses and start building a relationship. With any luck, that relationship turns into a sale. I still remember Jenny, who sold my wife and I our first bedroom set 20 years ago. That’s the power of a good sales associate. Our industry needs more Georges and Jennys, men and women who have a knack for listening and helping—not selling. That’s what this issue of RetailerNOW is all about, finding the perfect men and women for your staff. They’re out there. They might even already be on your staff. But are they getting the support and coaching they need to succeed? Check out this month’s cover story beginning on page 10. One more thing, if you’re planning on being at High Point Market this month, I’d love to chat with you about any stories you’d like to see in your magazine. Drop me a note and we’ll do coffee at the Retailer Resource Center.


Subscription: $70/year RetailerNOW, ISSN# 2166-5249, is published monthly (except March and December) by the North American Home Furnishings Association, 500 Giuseppe Court, Ste. 6, Roseville, CA 95678. POSTMASTER: Address changes to: RetailerNOW, North American Home Furnishings Association, 500 Giuseppe Court, Ste. 6, Roseville CA 95678. If you would like to stop receiving RetailerNOW, please send an email to RNOWunsubscribe@nahfa.org.


Robert Bell rbell@nahfa.org

© 2016 North American Home Furnishings Association. Published by the North American Home Furnishings Association. Material herein may not be reproduced, copied or reprinted without prior written consent of the publisher. Acceptance of advertising or indication of sponsorship does not imply endorsement of publisher or the North American Home Furnishings Association. The views expressed in this publication may not reflect those of the publisher, editor or the North American Home Furnishings Association, and North American Retail Services Corp. Content herein is for general information only; readers are encouraged to consult their own attorney, accountant, tax expert and other professionals for specific advice before taking any action.

APRIL | 2016


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Is this the year mobile wallets take flight? As mobile wallets become standard on newer smartphones, proximity payment options are gaining ever-increasing visibility with consumers. Shoppers want payment processes to be simple, but delivering a seamless experience from aspiration to purchase is no small task. Even though iterations from Apple, Samsung, and Android are gaining traction, usage is not growing at anticipated rates. According to a recent Accenture survey, 52 percent of North Americans are “extremely aware” of mobile payments such as PayPal, Apple Pay, and Android pay, but a mere 18 percent use them on a regular basis. So what will help close the gap between awareness and adoption? Experts agree that the recent policy change surrounding EMV could help spur growth. “One of the biggest drivers is the EMV liability shift, which is helping seed the market with contact-less point-of-sale terminals. The infrastructure is beginning to fall into place,” says Jordan McKee, senior analyst at 451 Research. Also, connecting more of the retail commerce experience to mobile wallets, especially when it comes to offers, coupons, rewards and loyalty, will be critical to getting more people to pay with their phones. According to the National Retail Federation, 60 percent of consumers pay with smartphones because of loyalty benefits. While not every payment innovation will catch on, 2016 is sure to continue introducing changes to consumers and retailers, so retailers need to be sure to keep mobile payments on their list of trends to watch.

z COOL APPS Microsoft Outlook

Workflow (https://my.workflow.is/)

Microsoft Outlook is an email app for getting things done.

Workflow will automate tasks on your iPhone.

Meet Outlook for iOS, the app that helps millions of users connect all their email accounts, calendars, and files in one convenient spot. Newly redesigned, Outlook for iOS lets you do more from one powerful inbox. Thanks to its acquisition of the email app Acompli late last year, the Microsoft Outlook app has become quite good. It integrates with Exchange (of course), Office 365, Outlook.com, Apple’s iCloud, Gmail, and Yahoo Mail. There’s a built-in calendar view, a quick access to files stored in attachments, and some smart filters that, once you use, you find hard to live without. Business Insider calls it “…simply the best email app you can use.”

Workflow is your personal automation tool, enabling you to create powerful workflows across multiple apps for your iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. You drag and drop “actions” together to make apps talk to each other in creative ways. Examples of what you can do with Workflow on the iPhone include making PDFs in Safari, adding voice memos to Evernote, uploading a photo and getting a Dropbox link, sending a message (including the last screenshot you took), and much more. You can also discover advanced workflows that other people have made and share your own creations in the Workflow Gallery. ‹ $2.99; iOS, Apple Watch

‹ Free; iOS, Android–Check out all of Microsoft’s apps available for your mobile devices, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, Skype, and Wunderlist. Want to share a cool app? Drop us a line at rbell@nahfa.org


APRIL | 2016



JANUARY | 2016




What tip would you offer a attending High Point Q: retailer Market for the first time?

Making Service a Culture, Not a Policy

Jim Bright Dunk & Bright Furniture Syracuse, NY “Be sure to make some time, maybe a few hours, for the Retailer Resource Center. Listen to as many pitches as possible, because there’s a good chance you might stumble upon a service that could have an existential impact on your business. Professionals in technology, finance, operations, logistics, etc., are all located in one place. A couple of years ago I was able to receive impromptu demonstrations from several e-commerce platform managers and found the perfect partner, which led to one of our most important initiatives this decade.”

Lisa Hurley Priba Furniture Greensboro, NC “Plan carefully! When shopping more than one furnishings category, it’s difficult to stay focused. Divide your time into category segments to maximize efficiency. Be inspired! Exhibitors spend an exorbitant amount of effort and expense to show their products. Many hire amazing design talent to create exciting environments to stimulate ideas and motivate sales. Use creative concepts gathered at market to freshen your sales floor. Take advantage of buyer’s transportation! The Market Authority has created a network of transportation options to safely transport buyers to every corner in High Point.”

(McGraw-Hill Education, 176 pages) Successful businesses are built on relationships. No relationships are more important than the relationships companies have with their customers, both internal and external. In Legendary Service, Ken Blanchard, Kathy Cuff, and Vicki Halsey champion the notion that truly caring about customers provides a competitive edge, makes employees and customers happy, and grows the bottom line. The legendary service they describe is based on the ICARE model, which begins with creating a vision of what ideal customer service looks like, then introducing that vision into the organization. To bring the ICARE principles to life, the authors take readers on business student and retail employee Kelsey Young’s journey as she discovers firsthand the difference legendary customer service can make to customers and employees. Legendary Service is a fictional account of a business student’s discovery of the ICARE model and the principles behind Ken Blanchard’s Legendary Service® training program. The book is intended for readers at any level who seek to improve customer service within their organizations and excel at providing customer service. In addition to providing an engaging narrative, the book’s chapters feature key points and present the principles of legendary service in an easy-to-understand way. The book concludes with a Legendary Service Self-Assessment tool for ongoing evaluation.

The Science of Capturing People’s Attention (Capitivology, HarperOne, 256 pages) In Captivology, author Ben Parr presents an organized approach to successful marketing that includes seven attention-grabbing triggers that tap into people’s natural tendencies and traits. The ultimate goal for marketers is to capture an audience’s immediate, short, and long attention for the purposes of promoting a product or concept. Parr shows you how it’s done.

Jimmy Partain Total Concepts Furniture Chattanooga, TN “On the first day, shop the main buildings and just visit the showrooms to get a feel for what’s offered. Make notes as to likes and dislikes. On the second day, go back and buy from the showrooms that fit your store the best, value-wise and style. This will spare you from buyer’s remorse! Wear comfortable shoes and drink plenty of water. Above all, ask someone how to find the way out of the main building. Everyone knows what I am talking about and so will you after your first time to market.”

Captivology offers a clear, explicit roadmap for marketers, entrepreneurs, and retailers who wish to draw attention to their companies, their products, or themselves. Parr uses interesting stories to illustrate the power of each attention trigger. He directly links each chapter to the next by discussing how the topics dovetail. Book review: bizsum.com


APRIL | 2016










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APRIL | 2016


Rebirth of a Salesman

These days, associates who see themselves as problem solvers are more likely to close the deal By Robert Bell


APRIL | 2016


Raul Toledo is one of El Dorado Furniture’s top salespeople.


APRIL | 2016



illy Loman, the beleagured road warrior in Death of a Salesman, stand a pale comparison to HFA member Raul Toledo. Toledo, cucumber cool, stands just beyond his showroom’s entry, hands clasped behind his back. He is waiting for opportunity to walk through El Dorado Furniture’s sliding glass doors. It does not matter if opportunity comes in the form of a married man, a single mom, an elderly couple or a family of six. They are all the same to him— opportunities. Toledo’s posture, his stance—everything about him, really—suggests a man with something to sell, waiting for someone who is ready to buy. It is a timeless pose. Toledo could easily be standing behind barrels of exotic spices in some far-flung Middle Eastern market place. Or waiting in an airconditioned showroom of Porsches and Ferraris. But in Toledo’s case, the man is selling sofas, loveseats, recliners dining room furniture. And he’s good. How good? Toledo was one of El Dorado Furniture’s top salespeople last year with more than $1.2 million in sales. You read that right: One man sold $1.2 million in furniture. Toledo is not antsy, but he’s not indifferent either. He’s ready. As though he knows a sale is imminent. There is a trace of a smile on his face. You could land an airplane on his chin. His broad shoulders are back. His is a look of confidence. And then, as expected, the showroom doors slide open and opportunity walks in…

Here’s the rub: Every home furnishings store has a Raul Toledo, someone who routinely writes more monthly tickets than the rest of their peers. There’s nothing magical about their skills, and they certainly aren’t born with the ability to sell. Steve Smith hates to hear someone like Toledo described as a natural-born seller. “Sure, some people possess a special quality,” says Smith, whose company, Profitability Consulting Group, helps home furnishings stores improve their staff’s sales techniques. “But good salesmanship isn’t bestowed on you at birth. The fact is it takes a lot of work—a lot of hard work—to become a good salesperson. People may not want to hear that, but that’s actually good news because it takes away the excuse that if you aren’t born with the skills, you’ll never be a strong salesperson. Nonsense. Good sales techniques can be taught.” If that’s the good news, here’s the bad: Ask an extremely successful salesperson, “What makes you different from the average ticket writer?” you’re likely to get an aw-shucks answer, if any answer at all. Frankly, the person may not even know why they are so good at their job because most successful salespeople are simply doing what comes honest to them. Toledo, for one, doesn’t have a clue. “I wish I knew the secret,” he says. “I wish I could write it down and teach it to others. But I truly don’t believe people are born with special powers to do one thing. You learn through experiences in life. Over and over you learn.”


APRIL | 2016

RAUL TOLEDO was one of El Dorado Furniture’s top salespeople last year with more than $1.2 million in sales.

Fill a room with a dozen sales training experts and you’re likely to get a dozen approaches to selling. Some argue product knowledge is paramount. Others will tell you nothing scares a customer away faster than a sales associate spewing foam density specs. For every expert who says you’ve failed if a customer walks out of your store empty handed, there are just as many who will point out you’re lucky to close roughly 7 percent on first-time shoppers. One thing is certain: The past 15 years has dramatically changed the way we sell home furnishings because over the last decade the way that people shop and buy has fundamentally changed, too. Remember the old paradigm when your sales associates were the first point of contact for your uninformed customers? Your store held all the cards when it came to pricing, quality, or recommendations. Those were the days, weren’t they? “That position of power and advantage has completely shifted,” says John Egger, president of Profitability Consulting. “These days it’s the consumer who’s in the driver’s seat. They’re not just walking in off the street without any idea of what they want. They’ve done their homework and might know more about that sofa than the person selling it. That makes the salesperson’s job even more important.” Building successful ticket writers has a bonus effect for store owners. Mike Petersen, president of The Furniture Train Company, places the turnover rates for home furnishings sales associates at better than 50 percent within the first year, a number that climbs even higher after another two years. When you factor in the cost and time of training a sales associate compounded by the number of lost sales—revenue your store might never get back—Petersen just shakes his head. “That’s a lot of sad hearts all around,” he says. “We can’t sit around and let that happen.” In 17 years running the consulting firm of JRM Sales & Management, Joe Milevsky has seen his share of sad hearts. “I can’t tell you how many gorgeous, to-die-for stores I’ve walked into where the store owner has done everything right—from design to marketing—to attract the right customer, who then has to deal with a sales associate who has not been trained,” says Milevsky. “All that hard work is lost.”


Milevsky, Egger, Smith and Petersen spend thousands of hours each year talking to salespeople—the good, bad, and awful in the industry. But if you talk to Petersen and other sales training experts about what makes a good salesperson, a few traits begin to emerge.

Personable “It really comes down to two main issues,” says Petersen. “It really comes down to integrity and being personable. If you have somebody who has integrity and is personable, you can teach them to sell. This isn’t rocket science. They can be taught product knowledge and how to sell, but you can’t teach friendliness and integrity because if it’s taught, it’s not real, and customers catch on quick.” Too often, Petersen and others say, many sales associates stumble right out of the gate when dealing with a customer. He doesn’t blame the associate; he blames the person who trained them. “I have so many store owners tell me, ‘just cut me to the chase of how to close a sale.’ When I hear that,” says Petersen, “I know we’ve got problems because if you haven’t done the front-end work, you’ll never get to the close.” Smith agrees. “It’s greed and ignorance,” he says of sales associates who rush a client. “A lot of salespeople are focused not on the individual, but the product, which is ironic in a way because when you turn it around and put the buyer first, the sale is more likely to follow.” In other words, build a rapport from the start. Larry Floyd of HFA member Marchant Home Furnishings in Grandview, Wash., cringes when he hears a sales associate with the best of intentions walk up to a shopper and ask, “May I help you?” Even worse, “What are you looking for today?” “That tells me they’re focused on their own gain, not the customer,” says Floyd, who urges sales associates to speak to customers as a friend not someone you’re doing a business deal with. Smith suggests coming up with conversational hooks that help the shopper lower her guard and see you less as a seller and more as a problem solver. “Never greet a customer in a way that positions you as the seller and them as the buyer,” he says. “Do you live close to the store? What’s going on with the traffic outside? How are you handling all this snow? Those are questions that treat the person as your equal and set the stage for engagement.” That’s not being manipulative, says Petersen, because the best sales associates want to know about their customers. “They’re not extroverts or introverts,” says Petersen. “They’re somewhere in between. They know when to be there for the shopper and when to back off.”



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Empathy Make no mistake, says Toledo, there’s money to be made selling home furnishings, but what gets him up in the morning and has him walking into El Dorado every day with a smile is knowing that he’s about to help someone fill a need or untangle a problem. “There’s something gratifying about listening to someone tell me what it is they’re looking for and tarrying to guide

Visit us at High Point - April 16-20, 2016 Retailer Resource Center #40 1.866.785.0235 | tcsmarketing@twcs.com | www.tidewater.credit © 2016 Tidewater Finance Company™. All rights reserved. Program may not be available in all states.

“You can’t help the customer if you don’t know what’s available to them,” Morales says. “We want our salespeople to be “… If you make furniture selling about money, humble when the customer walks in, you and your employees are going to be but we want them to be educated, too. fighting an uphill battle because it’s not all The customer expects them to be also. about money. It’s about having empathy for They’re counting on us to help them.” Of course, not every home furthe customer, listening to what their need or nishings store has the resources of El problem is and having a genuine desire to Dorado to help teach their sales staff. help them find a solution to that problem. The That’s where store owners need to interesting thing is when you approach the job rely on their manufacturing reps for that way, the money will come.” help. Geoff Weed spends his Saturdays travelling and teaching Ashley Furniture — Mike Petersen, The Furniture Training Company. sales associates about the latest in sales techniques, but also in product specs. Possessing that knowledge is important for any sales associate, but Weed, who is also president of the International Home Furnishings Representatives Association, cautions against using too much knowledge on a customer. “Product knowledge in the wrong hands can be bad,” he says. them to make a decision,” says Toledo. “If I only did this for “I’ve seen customers’ eyes glaze over when a salesman starts hamthe money, well, that’s just not me. I need to get something mering them with facts about steel strength or coils. Good salesmore out of it and I do. When someone comes back to me a few years later and remembers how I helped them out and they people know when to pull (product knowledge) out and when to leave it alone. They use it wisely.” want my help again? You can’t put a price on that—not me at Petersen knows some of these changes will be challenging for least.” some salespeople to embrace. His company, as well as Milevsky, Petersen says empathy is a more common trait in good sales Smith and Egger’s, help stores adapt to the changing consumer, associates than you might think. “It’s not about the pushy but all know one trait hasn’t changed with the 21st Century sales elbows and being aggressive anymore,” he says. “First and foremost, if you make furniture selling about money, you and your person: motivation. “You have to like your job,” Toledo says. “You need that fire every employees are going to be fighting an uphill battle because it’s morning within you. If you don’t have it, maybe you need to think not all about money. It’s about having empathy for the cusabout something else. Me, I love getting up and coming to work tomer, listening to what their need or problem is and having every day. I get to sell you furniture. How great is that?” a genuine desire to help them find a solution to that problem. The interesting thing is when you approach the job that way, the money will come.” Remember that paradigm shift? Now that customers are more knowledgeable, the sales associate’s job has become more of a guide. That’s why Milevsky says when store owners are looking to hire a new sales associate, they should be lookRetailers interested in learning more about improving ing for people passionate about style and design. But just as their sales staff can drop by the Home Furnishings Asimportant, they need to find people who are just as passionsociation’s Retailer Resource Center at the High Point ate about helping others solve a dilemma. “You can teach the Market from April 16-20. sales management process, you can measure closing rates and category sales, but there are some things you just can’t teach. If The sales training experts mentioned in this story— they don’t have a passion for helping others, they’re not going Profitability Consulting Group, The Furniture Training to make it in this industry.”

Want To Learn More?

Knowledgeable Mario Morales is El Dorado’s senior general sales leader. Every morning Morales meets with Toledo and the rest of the company’s sales staff to go over any new products that find their way onto the sales floor. The meetings are often short—15 minutes tops—but serve up an important weapon for every salesperson who’s about to walk out on the floor that day: product knowledge.


APRIL | 2016

Company and JRM Sales & Management—will be available to answer any questions you might have. Joe Milevsky of JRM will also hold a seminar, “The Anatomy of a Salesman,” on Saturday, April 16 at the RRC.

The Retailer Resource Center, located on the first floor of Plaza Suites on Main Street, features more than 40 vendors ready to help you grow your business.


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Connect with the Affluent Consumer By Jeff Giagnocavo


elling a $30,000 mattress is not easy. Selling a $30,000 mattress to an affluent customer who flies via private jet to purchase a mattress is even harder. The affluent customer I speak of is author, marketer, speaker, and business consultant Dan Kennedy. Imagine if Dan called and told you he wanted to fly, by private jet, into your town to visit your place of business. Would you welcome the opportunity? My business partner and I didn’t flinch when Dan announced he wanted to travel to our Lancaster, PA showroom and buy a new mattress. Our unique, information-first marketing caught Dan’s eye and intrigued him enough to fly from Ohio to buy a one-of-a-kind mattress. You might think selling a $30,000 mattress is rare. Yet, for the past several years, we’ve been selling mattresses that range in price from $15,000 to $30,000 to affluent consumers, many of whom travel from outside Pennsylvania to experience exactly what a handmade mattress feels like. And, they end up becoming customers and fans. A review of affluent-oriented catalogs and magazines proves there is a flourishing segment of the buying population that demands and expects the very best; for this demographic price is of little concern. Ironically, the day I wrote this, the “big” news was about Mariah Carey’s 35-carat diamond and platinum engagement ring worth millions. The only reason this ring exists is because somebody had the nerves of steel to serve the needs of the consumer who wants to buy a 35-carat engagement ring. Regardless of what you may think, there’s a high probability there’s an affluent segment for what you sell. And while affluent consumers like Dan are by no means the norm, they do exist, and can be identified, targeted, intrigued, and moved along from lead to prospect to customer to raving fan with properly designed marketing tools, systems, and automation. Compare how we sell our wake-up-happy-and-pain-free sleep solutions to how others sell their white-rectangles-starting-at-$99 and you’ll see how to attract and serve the affluent consumer.


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I think you’ll find it interesting to take a peek under the hood of our business to see how we target and serve an upscale clientele. The five opportunities I’m sharing comprise the roadmap that motivated Dan and other customers like him to spend tens of thousands of dollars on their mattresses; a roadmap that can be modeled and tweaked by any furniture or mattress store owner. Make the decision to attract and serve the affluent consumer. While this might sound rather obvious, many store owners have a mental roadblock when it comes to doing what it takes to attract and sell to the well-to-do consumer. I can’t think of any traditional furniture or mattress store owner who can’t make the decision to have a focused effort on the affluent consumer. But most don’t and rather than investing the time in thinking about and putting together a plan, they list all the reasons why they can’t. The truth is this requires work, which is why only 20 percent of business owners do it. Doing something new and different requires you to stretch and grow in many different ways, yet you can do it. The first step is the personal decision and commitment to doing it. ACTION ITEM: Make the personal decision to identify and serve the affluent segment of your consumer base. Write it down, proclaim it to business partners, your spouse, etc. Be the sought-after expert and advisor. You can do this. And, while it takes time, the investment can pay off for the rest of your life. Dan Kennedy has a saying, “People pay you for WHO you are. Not WHAT you do.” The ONLY way to become a sought-after expert is to focus on becoming the sought-after expert. Read biographies about successful people, model truly successful people, and become the preeminent provider of furniture and mattresses in your market place. Seek out opportunities to speak to groups. Host educational seminars at your store. Hold customer-appreciation events. Write a book. Be as everywhere as possible in your market. Affluent consumers look for expert diagnosis, expert prescription, expert service, and expert care.




ACTION ITEM: Find three successful entrepreneurs you identify with and read their biographies. Study how they became who they became. Information-first lead generation. Unlike the masses, the affluent consumer is typically well-informed. Information gathering is part of their daily experience and to attract them, you must have properly designed and written information that speaks to their specific needs, wants, and contentment. Don’t confuse this type of reading with sales-focused promotions and sales copy; rather think to educate and inform about how to buy what it is you sell. Information-first tools like books, buying guides, audio CDs and DVDs and videos will immediately position you above your competition. In my business, the educational short book is a tool we develop for every client, because it works. Crafting such content requires you to use specific language and design. Resist doing everything online and create physical media. ACTION ITEM: Determine what type of information-first tool you can develop (or improve) to attract the affluent consumer. Identify a single tool, for now, and put a plan together to complete it within 60 days. Make it an experience. As you move up the affluence pyramid toward the top of the top, you have a very different consumer with very different expectations. They want to be treated differently than everybody else and they look for a better experience, which is why simple things like First Class-only lanes exist at the airport, leading the person to their First Class seat. When Dan and his wife flew in, I personally picked them up and took them to the store to go through a private prescriptive sleep assessment. Afterward, we took them to a local bed and breakfast, where the exact mattress they were considering was made-up for them in their room. The next morning I picked them up to return to the store to make their final purchase decision. This is the type of white glove, exceptional process one must have to attract and serve the upscale consumer. Creating an interesting and engaging experience opportunity exists in your business. We have our world-famous Dream Room which is a significant step-up from the traditional, bounce-on-a-mattress-for-five-minutes-before-buying process most retailers have. A client of ours turned its entire upper mezzanine into a Dream Room-like design experience studio and saw immediate and continued sales from that effort. ACTION ITEM: Look at your business and sales process with an intense focus on uncovering an opportunity to create an exceptional experience. Maybe it’s special, appointment-only times. Maybe it’s a special qualification process. Maybe it involves an exclusive location not for the masses. Work at uncovering this opportunity. Automate, so 100 percent of the follow-up that should happen, happens 100 percent of the time. This is an opportunity for everybody you interact with in business, not just the affluent consumer. Having automated follow-up is a huge game-changer for the business owner who embraces and implements automation, the right way (the right way means having more than just one or two autoresponder emails that say here’s your newsletter or coupon). The benefits of true marketing and sales automation for the furniture and mattress store owners are huge, which is why companies like Infusionsoft, Hubspot, Ontraport, Office Autopilot, and our company, Infotail exist. Automated follow-up is another level of assurance that the affluent consumer is being properly guided, informed, thanked, and asked to refer and review. Automation doesn’t mean everything is canned and robotic-like. Instead, proper automation allows you to extend a very personal, relevant, and hand-crafted approach. The last thing you want to do, after doing all the above, is to rely on manual efforts. ACTION ITEM: If you have no marketing automation or are using barely 10 percent of any automation platform you have now, make it a specific point to investigate the opportunities that exist for your business. Automation tools and CRMs are great tools, but in the hands of a Main Street business automation expert, it can transform your business.




Jeff Giagnocavo is an HFA member, mattress retailer, and CSO of Infotail Systems, an Infusionsoft Certified Partner and creator of Automatic Mattress Profits. Infotail has developed Automatic Mattress Profits to help mattress retailers increase sales and profits without any new advertising expense. Jeff can be reached at jeff@automaticmattressprofits.com.


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Out with the Old, Expanding the New Robert and Liz Werner gambled on opening a home furnishings store in Las Vegas. In a city that likes to take chances, they’re about to double down.


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By Robert Bell


That doesn’t mean Furniture Market can coast through a work HEN LOYAL CUSTOMERS SAW THE week. “We can’t use that as an excuse because the people who do Going Out of Business sign in front of Robert shop with us are very demanding,” she says. and Liz Werner’s store earlier this year, they To meet those demands, Furniture Market is staffed entirely panicked. Furniture Market, one of Las Vegas’ by designers. In addition to the Werners, Furniture Market has go-to stores for contemporary home furnishings was closing its three full-time saleswomen—all with degrees in interior design. doors? Say it ain’t so! Those designers, Liz Werner says, know it’s not enough to simply Fortunately, Liz Werner assured her clientele, it ain’t so. In sell a sofa. “We have a philosophy here that it’s layers that make fact, just the opposite: Once the Werners close their antique a room,” she says. “Our designers are wonderful at listening to mall adjacent to their furniture store later this year, they plan the stories, the visions people have for their homes and bringing on using that extra space to expand Furniture Market. That those stories to life.” sound you might hear are Furniture Market’s clients breathing Robert says his wife and the store’s designers help set Fura collective sigh of relief because, in a city known for its eclectic niture Market apart from other retailers in the city. “So many architecture and style, Furniture Market has earned a reputadesigners are limited in their vision,” he says. “A lot of designers tion among residents looking for unique home furnishings. will give the customer their own vision rather than the cusNot bad for a store that’s barely nine years young. “I always tomer’s.” knew we had a loyal following,” Liz Werner says. “I just didn’t Liz Werner agrees: “When they (the customer) can express to know how loyal until people thought we were shutting down.” us their look and vision, our designers can help them make that The Werners, like their furniture, are a bit eclectic, too. They happen,” she says. “That’s what we do well and why so many never intended to open a home furnishings store. For years people come back to us when they have a new room or house to Robert Werner’s family was a major player in the Las Vegas decorate.” floral industry, supplying many of the city’s hotels and resorts Conventional wisdom says Furniture Market shouldn’t be here with high-end arrangements. When those resorts decided to today. The store was open for only a year when the Great Recesstop outsourcing their floral business in the 1990s, Robert sion hit in 2008. By some measures, Nevada was hammered Werner’s father was left with a large building he built on the more than any other state, shedding more than 186,000 jobs outskirts of town. Werner’s father gave his son and daughterthat led to a 14-percent unemployment rate. The state still leads in-law the keys to the building and told them to reinvent the the nation in new foreclosures. Only exasperating the problem is family business. that Nevada’s economic numbers aren’t spread out to absorb the The Werners tried an antique mall in the space, renting out impact. Roughly 2.1 million of the state’s 2.8 million residents 114 booths to dealers around the city. It didn’t take the couple live in Clark County, which covers the Las Vegas metro area. long to realize that furniture was one of the items that sold quickly. When the adjoining building became available, the Werners swooped in to open a furniture store in 2007. Furniture Market did a little advertising at the start, but today it relies on wordof-mouth and loyal returning customers who show up every few weeks just to see what the store is offering. They’re often impressed with what they find: 24,000 square feet of Natuzzi, Italia, Elite Modern, American Leather, Century, Johnston Casual and more. Las Vegas is known for many things, but furniture isn’t one of them. That’s what started the Werners thinking about opening a store. “We have a pretty lackluster furniture presence here, one that went even further down during the housing recession a few years back,” Liz Werner says. “We knew BIGGER, BETTER Liz Werner peeks at some of the finds at their antique store there was a niche that wasn’t being filled. adjacent to their furniture store. The Werners are closing the antique store later this In fact, our biggest competitors aren’t year to expand their furniture operations. even in town.”


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“There were scary days—months, actually—a lot of them, but we never thought it was the wrong decision,” Liz Werner says. “The housing recession really hit us hard. High-end stores dropped off and never came back. Maybe we were just so busy we didn’t have time to give in to the fears the economy was generating at the time. We were too busy, too determined to make it.” It helped that the Werners owned their building. It also helped that Furniture Market customers were and remain better insulated from the slowdown that the rest of the nation faced. The Werners frequently work with professional families looking to decorate second homes or luxury high-rise condos near the city’s famous strip. Liz Werner says her customers aren’t obsessed with chasing the best deal. “They want something that’s not disposable,” she says. “They don’t search by price; they’re looking for value. I’m not saying money’s no object for them because of course it is, but they want something made well that’s going to be an investment for many years to come—not something they’re going to have to throw out a few years down the road from now.” Liz Werner has a degree in finance, which doesn’t help much when it comes to buying, but she has an eye for the transitional and contemporary lines her customers are drawn toward. And while she’s comfortable crunching numbers, she’s equally at easy buying for her store. She’s learned to shop astutely and recognize when manufacturers are offering something different—something her clients might embrace.

Unlike other family-owned stores that try to limit the number of manufacturers on display, Werner has more than a dozen manufacturers on her showroom floor. “I probably buy from too many manufacturers,” she says, “but that’s only because I know how much our clients like to mix and match. Someone from the outside might think we stretch ourselves too thin in terms of what we show, but we know what works for us and our clients.” In the coming months, the Werners are about to stretch themselves even more. Once they close the antique store, the couple plans to expand their store by another 24,000 square feet and sell more traditional furniture lines to go with their alreadyeclectic lines.


The association is like being part of a community that looks after one another. There are always great education seminars being offered for whatever area you’re looking for. I read the articles in RetailerNOW and there’s always something I take away feeling a little smarter.

Liz Werner, Furniture Market, Las Vegas, NV

DETAILED DESIGN The Werners, with their family dog Shadow, rely on three full-time designers to help customers make their visions a reality for their homes.


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That’s not all. The couple has spent the past year touring outdoor furniture stores they like in California and Arizona, and plans to open a high-end outdoor showroom between their two buildings later this year. Robert Werner has been thinking about ways to grow the Furniture Market for years now. “It’s always in my mind, but even more so the past few years,” he says. Because the family owned the antique store in the back of the building, it made sense for Furniture Market to absorb that space. All that was left was to decide what to put in there. Liz Werner says that Las Vegas, when you venture beyond the neon and exploding volcanos of the city’s famous strip, is just like any other city. “There’s a demand for more traditional lines that’s always been out there that we’ve never really tapped, so we’re excited to try this.” In a city that loves to gamble, Robert Werner sees little downside to the couple’s latest venture. “This is something we’ve thought a lot about,” he says. “We’re ready to make it happen, and I’m convinced that when we do it, it’s going to be a big success.”

FACE LIFT The space between the back of the Werner’s furniture store (above) and antique store will soon be transformed into a showroom for outdoor furnishings.



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N G I H S I F for the Right Salespeople By Marty Grosse


ow would your salespeople react if you announced that your store was stopping all advertising? Would they be shocked, frightened, or angry? Would some simply run the other way while announcing you had finally lost your mind? Yep, I created this scenario once for my selling team. After carefully positioning myself between the salespeople and the door, I baited the hook by explaining our owner was disappointed in the store’s sales performance and decided to take a drastic step. As I cast my line that all advertising would cease, I painfully waited until they took the bait then set a hard hook. The reactions ranged from shock to anger, fear, disbelief, and instant gritty determination. The original purpose of this exercise was designed to stimulate a serious conversation about prospecting and the role it could play in our selling environment. Once I let them in on my ploy, the subsequent discussion was lively and we quickly filled a flip chart with ideas for improving our sales productivity. But that’s not what I really achieved. During the discussion it hit me that I had two distinct types of salespeople. One group was willing to put up a good fight while others were simply willing to be reeled in. I learned I needed to find salespeople with the qualities and traits necessary to fight through the rigors and adversity of selling. From that day forward I decided to go fishing for the right kind of salesperson. The meeting and interactions revealed the qualities I really wanted in a salesperson and within my selling team. They must 22

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possess a will-not-quit spirit. They should be open to training and feedback. They could swim with the sharks but not be a shark. In other words, a team player. Do not misread that I immediately wanted to purge my sales team, rather I made a commitment to improve the quality and performance of my selling team by bringing in new salespeople with these qualities as opportunity and attrition presented itself. Having a will-not-quit spirit is an essential quality for any professional salesperson, particularly if they will be on commission. Learning how to deal with the emotional lows and the highs of selling is not for the faint-ofheart. Look seriously at applicants who have run their own business or already have experience in sales. Previous experience helps them know if they can handle the ups and downs. Explore with unexperienced applicants a time or situation where they had to persevere or deal with adversity. Everyone deserves an opportunity but it’s critical to assess the ability to deal with selling rigors. Before this point I thought I could teach people how to not quit. I realized I’d hired some nice people who didn’t have the internal drive, passion, and wherewithal to be successful in sales. Face it: Any salesperson will have to be trained in your ways, your systems, and your merchandise. Look for experiences or educational background to get a glimpse of previous training episodes. Applicants with a military background always catch my attention since they’ve spent a great deal of time being trained. Does the applicant ask you about your training processes? Those open to training will ask about it. Ask the applicants to tell you about a time where they experienced good training or poor training. Make careful note of their responses to compare RetailerNOWmag.com

your training approach to their experiences. Tell the applicant you like to give regular feedback to all employees. Guide them to tell you how they like to receive feedback or the best/worst time they ever received feedback. The responses will provide valuable insight. Even though selling is about individual performance, it also centers around working on a sales team. I look closely at previous team experience in clubs or sports environments. Ask applicants to tell you about a time they either won or lost on a team. Have them describe the best and worst team leader they ever experienced. Listen closely and follow up with clarifying questions. Where do you go fishing for quality salespeople? At risk of sounding a bit trite, go where the big fish live! Spend time in any retail environment and observe how employees are performing. Ask who’s the best salesperson. Competitors won’t like it, but learn who’s doing well in other furniture stores and cast your line carefully. The first time one of my top salespeople left for a competitor was a wake-up call about my competitive naiveté. Don’t be afraid to cast a wide net across many industries. Anywhere there are salespeople, the fishing might be good. Often the big fish salespeople will be hard to land. Set your bait, slip on your selling waders, put a gone fishing sign on your office door, and begin improving the quality and productivity of your selling team. Marty Grosse is an industry veteran who’s held executive positions across six top-tier furniture retailers. His website, Furniche.com provides furniture shoppers real, relevant, and timely shopping advice while researching local furniture stores and manufacturer information. Email martygrosse@furniche. com to learn more.


APRIL | 2016


Good Wood

LOCALLY HARVESTED To reduce its footprint, Simply Amish harvests its hardwoods within a 500-mile radius of its craftsmen.


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Sustainable furniture has always made sound environmental sense. For some retailers it’s starting to make smart business sense. By Robert Bell


HEN CIRCLE FURNITURE, AN INDEPENDENT HOME furnishings store, opened for business 30 years ago, owner and HFA member Peggy Burns knew what she was up against: Circle’s market is one of the nation’s most competitive for home furnishings retailers. If history is around every corner in Boston, a close second just might be furniture stores. “The competition is everywhere,” says Burns. “National chains, regional gains, big independents—they’re everywhere. There’s just so much competition.” Burns never flinched. She knew what she wanted to sell and went looking for it: Small, independent manufacturers who made their furniture with respect to the environment—from the materials used all the way to the non-toxic finishes. “I don’t think the word sustainable was thrown around like it is today, but that’s who we wanted to be associated with,” says Burns. “Manufacturers who put some thought into what they were making and how it might affect the environment and the consumer.”


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It’s safe to say Burns was on to something. Over the years Circle’s customers have followed her thinking. “They want to know so much about what they’re buying,” she says. “They’re very demanding in wanting to know what it’s made of, how it was made, and about the finish. They want to know what they’re putting into their house.” Burns wasn’t the first home furnishings retailer to carry the torch for sustainable furnishings, but she’s one of the most vocal. Today, an increasing number of consumers want to be assured that what they’re putting in their homes won’t harm them. Retailers and sustainable experts say demand for both knowledge and product is at an all-time high. According to the North Carolina-based Sustainable Furnishings Council “an increasing number of shoppers are aware of home furnishings sustainability, and want to be a part of it,” says Susan Inglis, the council’s executive director. “The interest is even more so when it pertains to energy savings and reclaimed materials.” A recent SFC study shows that consumer interest in green furnishings is growing. More than half of all furnishings consumers are interested in buying eco-friendly home furnishings if they like the style and the price is right for them, Inglis says. The study shows that price sensitivity may have even peaked. Those who would pay nothing or up to a five-percent premium fell from a peak of 78 percent in 2010 to 70 percent in the most recent study last year. “We’re seeing price as less and less of a barrier,” Inglis says. “Just like in other parts of their lives, people want to do the right thing when it’s time to buy furniture.”

Sustainable furnishings doesn’t have to mean clunky, roughhewn wood fashioned together with weathered reclaimed fixtures—though there’s certainly a market for that. As a founding member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, Illinois-based Simply Amish practices sustainability throughout the manufacturing process—from its selection of slow-growth U.S. hardwoods within 500 miles of its craftsmen to the energy-efficient geothermal system used to heat and cool the manufacturer’s international distribution center. “We’ve always been a big believer in sustainability from the start,” says Kevin Kauffman, co-founder and owner of Kauffman Brands, which produces the Simply Amish line of furniture. “It’s never been a cause for us, just something that made good business sense that we’ve always believed in doing. And it’s never affected the style of our furniture. You can have great style and still be socially responsible.” Simply Amish’s audience is the 40- to 55-year-old professionals earning six-figure incomes. Its hardwood, hand-crafted and hand-finished furniture reflects those professionals’ wants in their furniture, says Kauffman. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Kauffman’s Crawford bedroom and dining room groups, part of the company’s Modern Farmhouse collections. Kauffman debuted both late last year and they’ve been well received by retailers and consumers. Few manufacturers are as committed to the sustainable movement as Lee Industries, according to Inglis. The North Carolina company offers soy-based cushions and padding, which allows Lee to conserve 57 gallons of oil a day. Lee’s products do not have toxic flame-retardants. Its pillows are filled with recycled fiber

CLEAN & GREEN The clean lines of Simply Amish’s Crawford collection make it one of the company’s most popular sets.


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LOCALLY HARVESTED Lyndon Furniture has been building sustainable furniture like this Japanese-inspired table, left, and live edge table, below, for more than 40 years. Lynwood’s hardwoods are harvested from U.S. forests.

SAFE HOUSE HA member Peggy

SAFE HOUSE Burns, center, of Circle Furniture, says customers are drawn to sustainable furniture like this Lyndon table. “They want to know what they’re putting in their homes is safe,” she says. Burns is pictured with Circle employees Renee Devlin, left, and Anita Munoz. RetailerNOWmag.com

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MODERN APPEAL Copeland Furniture has developed a strong following among consumers who like contemporary and modern furnishings. The company’s U.S. hardwoods, such as those used in the Audrey dining room set, are sustainably harvested.

filling and its metal components are recycled. The company uses low VOC (volatile organic compound) finishes and organic and natural fiber fabrics. “They’re one of the many (manufacturers) who are doing it right,” says Inglis. “It’s not a marketing ploy with Lee. It’s a core commitment to the environment.” Of course, that commitment comes with a price. Like a lot of sustainable furnishings, both collections will cost a little more than imports that do not follow sustainable practices, but Kauffman and others say customers looking for a sustainable story to their furniture are willing to pay a little extra. “The market share (for sustainable furniture) is small, but is growing as a whole,” says Shawn Straffin, head of product development and lead designer at Vermont’s Lyndon Furniture, which makes high-end, live-edge tables and other pieces that are distributed internationally. Experience tells HFA member John Wells of Wells Home Furnishings in West Virginia that consumers are willing to spend 10 to 15 percent more for a piece of furniture that’s designated sustainable. “If it’s more than 20 percent is when we’ve started seeing some pushing back, but the demand is certainly out there,” says Wells, who joined the Sustainable Furnishings Council nearly a decade ago. “People want to do what’s right and they want to walk the walk, but at the end of the day it still has to be priced competitively.” Located in Vermont, a state known for its deep environmental roots, manufacturer Copeland Furniture has never boasted of its sustainable practices, but acknowledges its philosophy attracts consumers to its line of modern furniture. Copeland harvests its hardwoods from within a 500-mile radius of its plant. The company uses a type of finish on its products that is Greenguard-

certified for low chemical emissions. “All of our processes have the consumer in mind, but just as important, all of our processes the environment,” says Ben Copeland, director of sales and marketing for the family-run business. Copeland said the push for sustainable furnishings wasn’t a decision made in a corporate boardroom. “This was inherent in our business practices from the start,” he says. “Vermont has strict environmental regulations, and being a family-owned company that’s been here forever that was our way of thinking, too. We understand the need to be responsible with our surroundings locally and the environment at large.” In recent years Copeland has reduced its costs for packaging materials with the installation of a box-making machine that allows the company to make only what it needs. Copeland recycles all packaging waste and has reduced its reliance on landfill disposal. Retailers and consumers also think Copeland happens to make a nice piece of furniture. In the past 10 years Copeland has evolved from a designer of transitional furniture to pieces that are more modern and contemporary in style. Two bedroom collections released recently show just how contemporary Copeland has become. The company’s Wave and Canto bedroom sets show off a number of organic shapes and turns inspired by local craftsmen. Copeland says an increasing number of consumers are drawn to companies that have an eye on style and the environment. “Money is always going to be a factor," he says, "but if you give them a choice between sustainability and non-sustainability, I think they will almost always opt for the sustainability story.”

Featured Manufacturers Lyndon Furniture | lyndon.com | 802.626.4263 Simply Amish | simplyamish.com | 217.268.4504 Lee Industries | leeindustries.com | 828.268.8318 Copeland Furniture | copelandfurniture.com | 802.222.9282


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250 of the top names

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This show means business. Star speaker: David Chilton, former “Dragon” and best-selling author

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Industry party, new exhibitors, awards, networking, gala, new products, trends, and more!

May 28-30, 2016 The International Centre — Toronto, Ontario canadianfurnitureshow.com


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ANSWERS with Mark Mueller

My earliest memories are coming in with my mom when I was maybe three or four. We used to have Mueller Furniture yard sticks and I remember having sword fights with Chuck Fairburn and Ron Rolfschneider. Chuck is now our rep for Hooker Furniture. I remember helping my Grandma Peggy dust the cherry wood tables. I loved the way they looked. I helped out with deliveries when I was old enough and strong enough, but we were never pressured to be part of the business. I went to Coker College in South Carolina and played baseball there. After college I played a little baseball for the Gateway Grizzlies in the Frontier League. It was 2004 and I was killing time between the end of the season and spring training when my dad and I were watching SportsCenter. I owed him some money, like a lot of college kids owe their parents, and he offered me a job—$500 a week! Are you kidding me? I jumped at it. I remember going to my first market in High Point in 2004 with our top salesperson at the time. I loved the building of the relationships, getting to know the vendors, and learning how to optimize our floor space. I came home thinking, “I can be something in this business.” We don’t try to compete with the big boxes. We compete around them. One big advantage we have is the big stores are locked into vendors in a way we would never want to be. They’re stocked so deep they’re committed to the inventory they have. If we see something we’re able to move quickly. Last year we were the first store in the St. Louis area to show Southern Motion with the power headrest. Everyone has it this year, but we were able to get it on the floor last year right away and it’s done well for us. My first apartment was right on the riverfront in St. Louis, maybe 650 square feet. I bought a Flexsteel left-armed love seat with a right-armed chaise lounge. Perfect for parking it in front of the big screen and relaxing. I still have them.


Next Generation for me is all about the networking with peers. I’ve formed some great friendships through the years. I look forward to seeing everyone at the markets and conferences because they inspire me to improve myself and my business. I’ve had a chance to sit down and talk with some of the pillars of our industry. I’ve been able to talk with Lee Fautsch of Flexsteel about staffing and Keith Koenig (City Furniture) about scouting out a site for a new store. To be able to learn from those guys is priceless.

Mark Mueller Co-owner & General Manager Mueller Furniture



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Six Answers is a monthly profile of a Next Generation Now member. Next Gen NOW is an HFA-hosted community of young industry professionals whose mission is to give voice to the needs and goals of the industry’s next wave of leaders. Connect with members at nextgenerationnow.net or Twitter @ngnow.


You’ve got product, we’ve got buyers. Let us help you connect. RetailerNOW is the only association print and digital media dedicated entirely to your target retail audience. Our readers are the CEOs, owners and decision makers you want to reach. Ready to connect? Advertise now. Call -://033 at 916.757.1160. RetailerNOWmag.com


APRIL | 2016



Tapping a Peer Group’s Support Sometimes a family business needs an outsider’s perspective. By Wayne Rivers


uring a recent break at a CEO performance roundtable meeting, we used the time to undertake a little market research into the hearts and minds of leaders of family businesses. While we thought we knew some of the answers to the questions posed, we weren’t about to let that all too common conceit prevent us from getting valuable, first-hand information from successful business leaders. We were running a meeting of seven CEOs and other senior executives from non-competing companies. The companies ranged in sales from $20 million to about $65 million and were located from Virginia to Arizona. The simple question was: “Why do you invest your time and money to participate in a peer review program?” In even simpler terms, “What’s in it for you?” First, let’s define what peer advisory groups or peer review meetings are all about. Peer groups, or performance groups, allow for facilitated discussions of industry issues, best practices, profit opportunities, and business building strategies among non-competing business leaders. The purpose of the groups is to help executives develop their skills as leaders, to rise above day-to-day operational issues, and to reap the benefits of other members’ experiences, insights, and knowledge. If it’s true that the seeds of family business implosion are sown in good times—and our experience says this is quite true—


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leaders need a place to go where they can recognize and avoid complacency and “status quo” thinking and behavior. And not just anyone can call out a successful entrepreneur. They can easily retaliate, “You don’t understand my business!” or “We’ve run our business successfully this way for 50 years; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Because peer groups are made up of other risk-taking retailers, these rationalizations simply will not fly. Peer advisory groups allow execs to invest time working on their businesses versus simply working in them. While there are several different delivery systems for peer groups, the thrust of most of them is the same: To provide a sounding board for senior business leaders who experience first-hand the old cliché of “it’s lonely at the top.” Peer groups can seem daunting to many because of the time necessary to travel to meetings and prepare for and deliver feedback to others, the cost of participation, and that one is quite vulnerable among a group of executives who experience life and business from the same lofty height as you. In other words, participating in a peer group can make one feel quite uncomfortable. Peer advisory groups are, in essence, informal boards of advisors for each other. But they’re not for everyone; those who are thin skinned or unwilling to listen objectively to the views and critiques of their peers will find themselves in hot water pretty quickly. To be a good participant and to reap the benefits a peer


group can deliver, one must be genuinely willing to face up to uncomfortable realities, take advice which might be difficult to hear, and—especially—take action on the items on which the group advises. Participation means both taking and giving sometimes harsh news and advice, and it takes a good dose of courage to do both. Here are some of the comments from the CEOs in answer to the question, “What’s in it for you?” “We get confidential, blunt feedback here we can’t get from our employees or our advisors.” “We can’t discuss the kinds of details we discuss here among our local competitors.” “The group provides a support structure. I don’t usually need support, but when I do, I now have a place to turn.” “It helps me identify my own problems when I hear from the other guys discussing theirs.” “I learn from the other guys’ mistakes, and they learn from mine, so we don’t make silly decisions we could’ve easily avoided had we had the right information.” “The others look at my business objectively which a CEO usually has a hard time doing. They’ve helped open my eyes about a number of issues in my company.” “By lifting up our skirts around these other fellows and letting them see all there is to see about our businesses, we create a

system of accountability for one another.” “This is the ONLY PLACE where others understand my business and are not afraid to tell me the truth about what they see in my company.” This informal research points out that family business CEOs increasingly recognize the need to get out of their comfort zones and actively seek challenges to avoid “hardening of the attitudes.” They know if they continue to do things the way they’ve always done them, their businesses will plateau, and the competition will pass them by. Peer review groups are more and more common in a number of industries, and especially in the home furnishings industry. If you want to learn more about the specifics see our performance roundtable program. Wayne Rivers is president of The Family Business Institute. Email questions to Wayne at wayne. rivers@familybusinessinstitute.com.

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I can’t win. Whenever I make a difficult decision at my store—and last I checked it was still MY store—there always seems to be someone in the family who’s upset. Is there a proven methodology for arriving at a decision or should I decide not to decide in order to make Thanksgiving and Christmas more enjoyable?


The issue might have to do with your decision-making style. You state that you make difficult decisions; why is this? The best decisions in family businesses, in our experience, are bottom-up decisions. That is, an issue arises, the issue is placed before a group for discussion, the group arrives at a conclusion, and they communicate their recommendation to the boss, in this case the family business leader, for ratification and implementation. Top-down, command-and-control, unilateral decisions imposed on other family members and employees don’t work very well in the 2016 environment. But you say, “The problem is we can’t seem to have a productive discussion as a family group. We get off track, the pot boils over, we exchange heated words, and we never get anywhere.” If this is the case, you need to start in a more fundamental place. You need help creating rules of engagement for communication and for deciding how to decide. It is also likely that some of the family members on the team shouldn’t be on the team at all. I am a firm believer that a family business fish rots from the head down. It might be time in your business for some serious introspection of your own leadership, and some tough love for other family members on the team.


johnthomasfurniture.com APRIL | 2016



A Second Life Coconis Furniture transforms an old lumber showroom–and its business By Connie Post


hen HFA member Randy Coconis of Coconis Furniture first showed me the building he’d purchased in Heath, Ohio, my heart leapt. The old, 11,300-sq.-ft. pole barn was indicative of construction techniques employed throughout the country’s heartland. Converting this building into what is, one year after its grand opening, the talk of the community, seemed so simple in my mind, yet proved to be more challenging. That afternoon, the existing skylights made me immediately envision furniture displayed beneath the lofty, rustic beams. Being all about affordable design, I wanted little changes to the existing structure. Yet, it became apparent early on that there would be nothing “affordable” about bringing my initial vision to reality. Structural load issues for what the roof could handle, costs attached to insulation, and HVAC made keeping the romance of the old pole construction impractical. Randy will tell you one of his favorite parts of the design is how we were able to mimic those beautiful old beams on the interior with plywood and good-quality faux wood grain wallpaper. He also loves the interior columns that we covered in stone, identical to the stone we used on the exterior.


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Husbands can catch the Ohio State game on the flat-screen television just inside the entry to the new Coconis Furniture.


The old lumber showroom still possesses many of its original architectural lines in its new life as Coconis Furniture.

My challenge was to double the building’s footprint and create an updated look that would be right for the customer base and still feel at home in the surrounding farmlands. We extended the existing metal building left and right. At only 90 feet deep, it was critical to visually capitalize on the building’s new length, so inside, we created large, visual expanses to underscore the perception of broad product selection. We achieved this with a long, open aisle that travels the store’s length. Look left and you’ll see the mattress department at the end of the aisle. Look right, and the motion gallery beckons with large lifestyle graphics. Just inside the entry, when customers look forward, they see an open stone fireplace with a flat-screen television (where husbands root for Ohio State on game days while their wives shop). The fireplace is surrounded by the upholstery presentation, while casegoods line the perimeter of the store. To maximize the open layout, we created a series of lifestyle pods, from

ilding (above) the original bu rchitectural of e lin of ro The long illusion of a up with the was broken top). e osite pag , elements (opp

Lake House, to Traditional, to Contemporary, which negated the need for walls in the middle of store. Vinyl wood flooring used throughout adds to the residential feel of the entire space. On the exterior, we created the illusion of architectural elements to break up the long roofline. Customers see two entrances. The main entrance beneath the tower features wood doors with an upscale residential feel, and plenty of windows that allow natural light to flood the interior entryway. The other door opens into the Mattress First bedding department. This additional entry and applicable signage gives Coconis the look of a category specialist, and enables them to effectively compete with mattress specialty stores in their marketplace. In fact, Randy says that bedding, once 18 percent of the company’s business, now accounts for 27 percent!

We took advantage of the ope n layout by creating lifestyle pods, from Lake House, to Tra ditional, to Contemporary. This negated the need for walls in the middle of the store.

trance lend of the main en plenty of s or do d oo w The and sidential feel, ior. an upscale re flood the inter to ht lig l ra tu na w windows allo

Retail design strategist, trend expert, author and owner of Affordable Design Solutions Connie Post International, Connie specializes in retail home furnishings store designs. She can be reached at missconniepost@aol.com


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2016 Retailer of the Year Nominees Every year the Home Furnishings Association recognizes members for excellence and outstanding achievement with its Retailer of the Year Award. The HFA celebrates a retailer from two categories—those with sales volume less than $10 million and those with more than $10 million. Manufacturers, vendors, fellow retailers, and you nominated the following HFA members for the 2016 Retailer of the Year. Winners will be announced this month and honored at the annual HFA Networking Conference, May 22-24 in Long Beach, Calif. RetailerNOW wishes each nominee the best of luck!


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Retailer of the Year Nominees

Circle Furniture Tubman/Burns Family, Acton, MA

American Furniture Warehouse Jake Jabs, Englewood, CO American Furniture Warehouse was founded by Jake Jabs in 1975; today there are 14 stores in Colorado and Arizona. AFW carries a full line of mid-priced furniture and is known for its large distribution centers. The retailer reaches consumers using traditional and social media and has a robust web presence with an online-exclusive shopping area. AFW serves its local communities with an extensive corporate giving initiative by supporting education and helping those who cannot help themselves. Jabs credits AFW’s success to “the basic American philosophies of hard work, long hours, self-confidence, the courage to take risks, the desire to give value and service to every customer as well as the passion for community service.” Nominated in the more than $10 million in sales volume category.

C.S. Wo & Sons

(Harold, Jessica, Erica, Peggy (Burns) and Richard Tubman)

Michael Wo, Honolulu, HI (Standing L-R Wendell, Bub, Bennett, Scott; seated L-R Mike, Robert and Betty Wo) A family-owned business, C.S. Wo & Sons has been serving the people of Hawaii for more than 100 years. What began in 1909 as a small general merchandise store on North King Street is now the state’s largest furniture retailer. Today, C.S. Wo & Sons is owned and operated by the third generation of the Wo family. C.S. Wo & Sons offers brand name furniture, bedding and accessories from around the world. The retail stores are C.S. Wo, HomeWorld Furniture, SlumberWorld, Ashley HomeStore, and Red Knot. New store openings and special in-store events customarily benefit local artists, arts, and human service institutions. Family members also offer their personal time and business expertise serving on various community boards.

Circle Furniture has provided unique, quality furniture for contemporary to traditional homes for more than 60 years. As a familyowned and operated business, Circle Furniture has developed a reputation for quality products from local manufacturers, an eclectic selection, fast delivery on made-to-order items, a commitment to philanthropy and sustainability, support of the regional economy, and, most of all, fun! Circle Furniture has six locations in the greater Boston area and an outlet and warehouse in Acton, Massachusetts. Its design team offers complimentary in-home and in-store design services by appointment. The company also welcomes partnerships with design professionals and offers a program exclusively to the trade. Nominated in the more than $10 million in sales volume category.

Nominated in the more than $10 million in sales volume category.


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Retailer Flamingo Furniture Jonathan Mitrani, Brooklyn, NY

Dunk & Bright Del Sol Furniture Alejandro Macias, Phoenix, AZ (Venancio, Rosa, and Alejandro Macias) Del Sol Furniture was started in 1997 by the Macias family; today there are seven family members working in the business. Del Sol has three locations in the metro Phoenix area where it sells mid- to promotionallypriced furniture, bedding, electronics, and appliances. The company started with a focus on the underserved Spanish-speaking consumer, but since 2009 has changed to a more diverse, bilingual market. Though it lost 60 percent of its business when the economy stalled from 2007 to 2009, Del Sol has since seen double-digit growth. It’s invested and embraced online and offline technology and training and it’s expanded and remodeled its showrooms and increased its warehouse. Del Sol hopes to open a fourth store later this year.

Jim Bright, Syracuse, NY Dunk & Bright Furniture is the largest furniture, mattress, and carpet showroom in New York. The store features certified IDS and ASID interior design staff and has extensive custom-order furniture capabilities. More than 25 experienced salespeople and interior decorators assist customers on a daily basis and they offer in-home complimentary design. Dunk & Bright’s furniture selection includes bedrooms, dining rooms, living rooms, mattresses, wall-to-wall carpeting and area rugs, window treatments, as well as office and contract furniture and a range of modestly priced furniture such as Ashley up to and including the very finest furniture made such as Harden Furniture. Nominated in the more than $10 million in sales volume category.

Nominated in the less than $10 million in sales volume category.


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(Jonathan Mitrani, Albert Mitrani and Wynn Yap) Flamingo Furniture was founded in 1976 by Albert Mitrani; today there are two locations in Brooklyn, New York and Albert’s son, Jonathan, is the CEO. The original store was small—an 1800-square-foot showroom packed with furniture. Now Flamingo Furniture spans 40,000 square feet over three floors. Jonathan’s focus is to make sure Flamingo sets itself apart from other stores by offering furniture at a value while at the same time guaranteeing exceptional service. Nominated in the less than $10 million in sales volume category.

of the Year Nominees Furniture Divano Alexandra and Codrin Coroama, San Diego, CA

Furniture Mall of Kansas Jamie & Jeff Winters, Olathe, KS

Garden City Furniture

Family-owned Furniture Divano has been serving the greater San Diego area since 1993. The retailer moved into its current showroom in 2013 (previous showrooms were City Sleepers and Sofa Recliner). Those showrooms were larger with product from a broader assortment of manufacturers. Over the last two decades Alexandra and Codrin have narrowed their product selection and their focus is on working toward their goal of smaller boutique showrooms throughout San Diego County.

(Jamie and Jeanne, June and Jeff, Joyce and Bob Winter)

Dianne W. Ray, Garden City, SC

Nominated in the less than $10 million in sales volume category.

The Winter family has owned and operated a Kansas retail furniture location since 1933 and has a Furniture Mall location in both Topeka and Olathe. Each Furniture Mall of Kansas houses five smaller stores that offer 150,000 square feet of selection. Furniture Mall provides customers with a one-stop shopping experience where they can browse among five furniture stores: RoomMakers (good), Discovery Furniture (better), Marling’s Furniture (best), and also a Mattress Headquarters and Flooring Headquarters. Jeff and Jamie Winters are third-generation owners who believe this store within a store concept allows them to keep a small store feel with the hometown service their customers have come to appreciate.

Garden City Furniture was incorporated in 1963; it was one of six stores owned and operated by Hubert Watson, Dianne Ray’s father. For the last 38 years Dianne has managed the store and now her son, Joey, is managing the business. The 40,000-square-foot store, 12 miles from Myrtle Beach, serves the Grand Strand area (a 50-mile radius) furnishing permanent homes as well as a large second home and retirement market. Garden City Furniture’s marketing philosophy is to offer the best made furniture for a reasonable price. Nominated in the less than $10 million in sales volume category.

Nominated in the more than $10 million in sales volume category.


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Retailer Great American Furniture Warehouse

Garrison’s Furniture Brian Garrison, Central Point, OR (Brian and Alissa Garrison, with Harper) Garrison’s opened in January 2007 with eight employees, a 15,000-square-foot store, and a 7,000-square-foot warehouse. Fewer than nine years later, Garrison’s has four stores (two furniture stores and two mattress galleries) with 43,000 square feet of showroom, a 12,000-square-foot warehouse that will soon be expanded, and employs more than 40 people. Garrison cites their “culture of customer service” as the primary reason they’ve doubled their sales in three years. “It sounds simple, and it is; but creating a true culture of service is a long process. We’ve worked and continue to work extremely hard on hiring, retaining, and cultivating great people that fit within our culture. It may not be complicated, but it’s certainly not easy.” Nominated in the less than $10 million in sales volume category.


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Dean Cowell, Bend, OR

Gorman’s Tom Lias, Southfield, MI Ben Gorman founded Gorman’s in 1940 when he began buying and reselling damaged freight—such as canned goods—from railroads. Damaged furniture was soon added to the mix. Gorman would repair and resell it. Soon his store earned a reputation as the premier place to buy furniture in Detroit. CEO Bernie Moray bought the company in 1965 and continues to be involved with Gorman’s along with Jeff Roberts, who has been with the company for 40 years, and Tom Lias, who joined in 1983 and is now president and COO. Gorman’s is a multi-brand destination store for quality design and service. It’s not a “big box,” but its expansive offerings and services exclude Gorman’s from being classified as a “small, independent” retailer. Nominated in the more than $10 million in sales volume category.


Great American Furniture Warehouse is a locally-owned and operated central Oregon retailer that’s been in business for more than 35 years. Its mission is to provide the community with great customer service and the best deals in town on high-quality home furnishings through two locations in Bend and Redmond. GAFW specializes in home furnishings, mattresses, and some accessories. In this family-owned business, Dustin and Rachael Cowell are learning the ropes to become the second generation of Great American, carrying on the same passion and drive for the business and industry that they’ve grown up knowing. Nominated in the less than $10 million in sales volume category.

of the Year Nominees INTERIORSHOME Todd Lehman, Lancaster, PA (Todd, left, Justin, and Gregg Lehman)

Hudson’s Furniture Fred, Josh, & Adam Hudson, Sanford, FL Hudson’s was founded in 1981 in Ormond Beach, Florida and today there are 17 home furnishings stores that sell middle- to high-end products. The retailer focuses on vendors in America that allow for custom options and quick delivery cycles. Hudson’s Furniture primarily uses TV marketing and loves to offer healthy discounts with high energy and a brand story. Hudson’s has doubled its mattress business in the last four years and its design business is a big contributor to its growth as well. Nominated in the more than $10 million in sales volume category.

INTERIORSHOME is a fullservice, middle- to high-end home furnishing and interior design retailer. It provides award-winning design services and sells every category of home furnishings, custom wall and window coverings, and hand-made rugs. This 47-year old company evolved from a small design store to a major independent in central Pennsylvania. While its values and mission have been constant through the years, INTERIORSHOME embraced change to navigate and thrive through the unique challenges of the economy and our industry. INTERIORSHOME was one of the family’s two businesses, this one founded by Lillian and sons Todd and Gregg. Todd and Gregg run the company, which now has two locations and 79 employees, including Todd’s son Justin.

Knight Furniture David & Joey Gunn, Sherman, TX Knight Furniture is a 103-year-old full-line furniture and bedding store in its fourth generation of family ownership. There are two retail locations in North Central Texas with approximately 82,000 square feet of showroom plus a warehouse/ distribution center. While Knight’s offers an extensive assortment of top brand names at a guaranteed low price, what sets it apart is small town hospitality, meaningful attention after the sale, and extensive community involvement combined with full-featured modern shopping conveniences. Customers have rewarded Knight by naming it the Best Place to Buy Furniture for 10 years running. Nominated in the less than $10 million in sales volume category.

Nominated in the more than $10 million in sales volume category.


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Retailer Rotmans Furniture Larrabee’s Furniture + Design Scott Larrabee, Littleton, CO Larrabee’s Furniture + Design is a Colorado family-owned company, spanning four generations, that has been operating continually under the Larrabee name since 1943. Owners Scott and Carolyn Larrabee opened their newest store in 2013 in Denver. Larrabee’s is an uppermedium to higher-end store with a 48,000-square-foot showroom that offers a broad selection of styles from contemporary casual to traditional, in addition to being a full-line outdoor furniture provider. Larrabee’s also offers a complete array of complimentary in-home design services. Nominated in the less than $10 million in sales volume category.

Rife’s Home Furniture

Steve & Richard Rotman, Worcester, MA

Kevin Rife, Eugene, OR

(Barry, Steve, Ida, and Bernie Rotman)

(Tammy and Kevin Rife) Rife’s Home Furniture opened in Eugene in 1998; today, there are seven locations throughout Oregon. Rife’s goal has always been to provide a selection of quality furniture at great prices, and to ensure a positive store experience for all of its customers. Owner Kevin credits much of the success of Rife’s Home Furniture to his wife Tammy’s likable personality, which regularly shines through on their television commercials. The retailer gives back to the community through its support of numerous local charitable causes focused on the most basic necessities of life: food and shelter. Nominated in the more than $10 million in sales volume category.


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Rotmans, a family-owned furniture business, began in the 1950s and today the 200,000-square-foot retailer is one of the largest single-store operations of its kind in the country; it’s slogan was seven stores on five floors under one roof. The Rotmans family attributes its success to large inventory, competitive pricing, experienced sales associates, and comprehensive customer service programs. The Rotman family has long been committed to addressing social needs throughout Worcester County. Rotmans feels that business is not just about making money, but also about giving back to the community that has made them the success they are. Nominated in the more than $10 million in sales volume category.

of the Year Nominees Saundra’s Furniture and Design

The Futon Shop

Saundra Wilma, Colville, WA (Genevieve Wilma-Young and Saundra Wilma) Saundra Wilma and Genevieve Wilma-Young are the forceful mother-daughter duo behind Saundra’s Furniture and Design. After a fire destroyed their showroom in 2013, the Wilmas rebuilt a beautiful new facility with a department-store like theme including a coffee shop, linen shop, window and flooring design department, and several furniture galleries. Saundra’s Furniture has always been involved in the communities it serves. Saundra’s and the Wilma women have stayed strong and true to their core values over the years and created an aura with which employees and customers are proud to associate. Nominated in the less than $10 million in sales volume category.

Suzanne Diamond, San Francisco, CA

Schewels Marc Schewel, Lynchburg, VA Marc Schewel is CEO of Schewel Furniture Company, a retail furniture chain with 52 stores in Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina. Stores vary in size from 15,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet and in annual sales from $1,000,000 to $8,000,000, depending on individual markets. The company carries furniture, bedding, appliances, and electronics, and provides additional value to its customers by self-financing 80 percent of their purchases. The company is headquartered in Lynchburg, Virginia, from which it distributes merchandise to its satellite locations. Schewel and his brother and sister are the fourth-generation owners and operators of this family business, which celebrated its 118th anniversary last year.

Suzanne Diamond is the heart and soul of The Futon Shop. She has been creating organic furniture options for 40 years. Suzanne and her team are committed to enhancing every customers’ health and well-being with organic options for their homes. The Futon Shop prides itself on its commitment to organic and sustainable business practices and its partnerships with socially responsible businesses and entities. The Futon Shop empowers people to protect themselves and their families to create a healthy and sustainable community. Nominated in the less than $10 million in sales volume category.

Nominated in the more than $10 million in sales volume category.


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TECHNOLOGIES to Break Out Your Business By Bill Napier


hy is it that technology runs virtually everything in our daily lives, but so many companies ignore its impact when it comes to selling furniture? Think about that sentence. We get up, read the news online, check our email, use GPS when we drive, read reviews and buy stuff online, spy on our kids with social media, post most of our daily life on Facebook, Tweet or Pin the rest, but when it comes to our business of running a home furnishings store, we don’t use new technology to attract, engage, inspire and sell our products to the 210 million consumers who use technology the way they do to “buy stuff.” I know many in our industry are scared to death of technology, simply because they either don’t understand it or they refuse to learn about it. That needs to change. There are many tech companies (not as many as I’d like) that actually innovate for our industry, helping retailers show, tell, and sell more product. Here are three readily available technologies that have proven successful in increasing engagement and growing sales.

CIMAGINE This technology is all about augmented reality that lets shoppers place furniture/product anywhere in their homes so they can see how it looks before they buy. Consumers can rotate it, see the sides, back, front, top, underside—every angle. Cimagine lets shoppers look at fabrics up close and shows dimensions so they know exactly how the sofa or table will look in the space where they want to place it. With this technology, the consumer’s home is now your showroom. And it’s a free app. (It should be noted that it works on the newer Android platforms; I tried it on my Samsung Galaxy 5 Android phone and it works amazingly.) Imagine if your salespeople were equipped with this tool. Shoppers come in with pictures of their rooms saved on the app. They scan the label or QR code of the furniture they’re interested in and the app superimposes a 3D image of the item onto the photo of their room. They can then move the piece of furniture around in the room, anywhere they want. They can also switch between available fabrics or finishes to get just the look they want. Once the shopper is happy with the placement of the furniture, a still photo— Cimagine calls them “scenes”—can be taken and quickly shared with friends via email or social media.


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3D VISION Cimagine allows retailers and consumers to use their mobile devices to visualize a piece of furniture in their home. This can be done at the store or from the shopper’s kitchen table.

Cimagine has clients like Coca Cola using this technology to show retailers how their vending machines would look if placed in their stores. Coke officials say they are getting a 20-percent boost in sales of coolers and equipment, with a 92-percent success rate when using the technology to engage a customer. Vending machines are no different than furniture, if you think about it.


MAKING CONNECTIONS VideoEngager is an easy software to add to your website that allows you to chat with consumers and show them products from your store.


Change how you interact with your customers with video chat. With VideoEngager, consumers can click a button on your website, connect with a salesperson in your store (not India), and ask questions about specific products and more. We are all familiar with video calls using tools like Skype, FaceTime, or Hangouts. Those tools are great for video calls with your friends and associates, but they make it very difficult to talk live to potential customers who are looking at merchandise on your website right now. That’s where VideoEngager comes in. With VideoEngager, a customer who is browsing merchandise on your site can instantly launch a live video call with your instore sales staff. The salesperson receives the video call on their Smartphone or tablet. They can then answer all of the customer’s questions, build a face-to-face relationship, use their Smartphone camera to show the customer actual merchandise in the store, and also screen share with the customer to show them other options and even a store/showroom tour. The consumer can do all this right from their browser session without having to register, log-in, or install an app. What I really like about VideoEngager’s video chat is that it helps you monopolize the consumer’s time and attention. A consumer browsing your site is usually planning to visit your site and three competitors. When you engage that consumer in an

immediate video visit, they end up spending more time talking to your staff and looking at your furniture. That’s less time for browsing elsewhere. Your competitor’s staff is still waiting for that customer to come into their store, but you’ve already sold them. Imagine a consumer sitting at home getting a complete tour of your showroom and the products in it, a virtual, customized tour. It’s also another great way to up sell those tables, lamps and more to increase your sales ticket. And for manufacturers, think how your sales reps can do a showroom walk through with customers who couldn’t make it to market. Best of all, it’s simple. No technology upgrades, just a simple line of code placed on your website that shows a floating icon on every page of your website: “Live Video Chat Now With A Salesperson.” A recent study conducted by Forrester Research stated that 44 percent of online consumers say having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online search or purchase is one of the most important features a website can offer. You’re there for the customer in the store—why wouldn’t you be there for them on your website? Forrester Research goes on to state 62 percent reported being more likely to purchase from the site again. Another 38 percent of respondents said they had made their purchase due to the chat session itself.





In less than

Media, Sporting and Hobby Goods

5 years 32% of home furnishing sales will be online!

Electronic and Appliances


Furniture and Home Furnishings 20% Clothing and Accessories - - - - - Projected Sales Percentage Source: Business Insider


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CGI INTERIORS Three Tree Commerce takes home furnishings products and creates inexpensive computer-generated interiors for retailers doing ecommerce business

Now let’s take your product photography to a new level. No more expensive room shots or scenes that don’t look real or, worse, look unprofessional. Three Tree Commerce has more than 5,000 designers and architects “in the cloud” who take your single product and place it in room scenes that are on file. The cost is $250 per room scene. That means for your typical $1,200 room shot, you can now have five versions of that product, stylized in traditional, modern, contemporary, apartment living, or other designs you desire. Now consumers can see it their way. All you need is a product shot, with the background knocked out (or shot against a white background) plus some discussions on the type of audience you want to engage and how your designer wants it to look. In a couple of weeks, you’ll have a beautiful high-res room scene. Think of the cost savings, the shortened time from market introductions to the field, the versatility, and more. Why do it as it’s always been done, when this type of technology is proven to work in other aspects of today’s retail industry? Technology doesn’t have to be intimidating—just the opposite: It can make your life (and business) easier. I hope one or more of these examples does just that for you. Bill Napier is managing partner of Napier Marketing Group. He has been the CMO of Ashley Furniture Industries and other companies. He can be reached at billnapier@napiermkt.com.


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Making HFA’s Retail Performance Report Work for You

By David McMahon


ast year the Home Furnishings Association revived its Retail Performance Report. It is one of the best (and most underutilized) tools to help grow your business. Listen to what one retailer told us after reviewing his report. “Wow—now I can clearly see where I need to focus to add at least $300,000 in cash.” For most people, and for most small businesses, $300,000 is a lot of money. I’m guessing that’s a lot for you, too. That $300,000 is the minimum amount of extra net income top performers produce, per $10 million in sales, over their average peers. We know this because of data teased from the 2015 HFA Retail Performance Report. There is a roughly 3-percent difference in bottom line between average performing stores and the top 20 percent. The report allows retailers to look through a multitude of other metrics to


APRIL | 2016

find that 3-percent net-income increase. In many cases retailers find much more. Last year, in partnership with the HFA, we brought back this critical benchmarking report, which allows retailers to rate themselves against the industry. This article is about how some retailers use the report to set goals and actions to get a leg up on their competition. The industry performance groups I lead are comprised of progressive business leaders with a common goal of helping improve each other’s businesses. It really works. One of our methods to make it work is to provide honest feedback on key indicators. We bring to light specific areas a business should focus improvement actions on. To find these specific areas, operating metrics are calculated and compared. This is one ingredient of our secret sauce. The 2015 HFA Retail Performance Report provides HFA members with extra


ammunition to find the specific improvement areas. Not only can they compare themselves against each other, they can compare themselves against industry top and average performers. Earlier this year our performance groups met for the first of two meetings in 2016. In our session on business metrics, we looked at more than 30 key indicators of business health and opportunity. Here are some of the members’ stories discussing a few of the metrics in the HFA Retail Performance Report.

Revenue per Guest “Revenue per Guest (RPG) is a hugely important number for us to benchmark ourselves on. Knowing what other stores are producing helps us determine what sales our traffic should produce day-in and day-out. For example, if we have 100 visitors to our store on any given day, reaching an industry average RPG of $492 would get us $49,200

in sales. If we produced only $22,000 then we know we had some issue that day causing under-performance. If we performed in the top 20 percent of the industry, we should do at least $62,700 for this day. The benchmarking allows us to identify and fix issues fast.”

Average Sale “How can some in the industry produce a $2,000 average sale while others produce $1,100? It seems crazy that there is such a disparity in this metric. Especially when you take two retailers with similar vendors, the spread does not make sense. But it does. In our case our average sale was near industry average at $1,500. When we looked at each of our 10 salespeople we noticed that we had a range from $2,700 down to $1,000. From there, observing customer interactions we could see that the higher performers spent more quality time with their customers and were listening before talking. Understanding this metric better and coaching on it will likely give us a big boost in volume for 2016.”

Close Rate “After seeing an average industry close rate of 29 percent we could see the opportunities our salespeople were recording and reporting to us were definitely on the low side as we were showing 40 percent. We then installed a visual traffic counter to obtain proof. We found there was an approximate 20 percent discrepancy in the opportunities our salespeople were recording. This meant that over a time period where our sales staff claimed they engaged 1,000 customers, there were really 1,200 customers. The big question then was, what happened to the 200 unaccounted for people? Our only answer is that they were missed due to improper floor management. We were then determined to not just have our managers available, but have them present on the floor. This will help us ensure that all our customers are taken care of properly. For our traffic, we deem this alone to be a $1 million annual opportunity.”

Inventory to Sales and Operating Expenses “When our traffic and sales declined due to the economic factors associated with the oil bust in our region, we knew we had to

adjust fast. Without understanding that an efficient inventory-to-sales percent was 15 to 19 percent, we would have become insolvent. Fortunately we can see from our peers and the HFA Retail Performance Report where we must operate to produce profit, regardless of volume. We modified our open-to-buy and markdown schedule to force a leaner merchandise level. This, along with properly controlling our operating expense ratios, will allow us to ride out this economic cycle. Likely some of our competitors won’t be so in-tune with their metrics and they will exit the market. When things turn around we will be poised to produce huge gains.”

Percent of Sales Spend on Marketing and Occupancy “After observing that, on average, retailers spend a combined 14 percent of sales on marketing and advertising, we know our limit. Our occupancy is largely fixed, so we don’t have much control over that as a dollar amount. We do have pretty good control over our marketing spend. Our goal is to always keep our combined marketing and occupancy under 14 percent. We adjust our media investment when necessary.”

Percent of Marketing Budget Spent on Digital “We now know how much retailers in the industry spend on digital media and website media. On average retailers spend 5.5 percent of their media budget on digital and 4 percent on web media. This is one area where we feel we can outperform the industry. And—we’re going to do it by spending a greater percentage of our advertising budget on paid digital search and targeting. Sources from our performance meetings point towards a 10 to 15 percent marketing spend on digital media alone. We aren’t increasing our ad budget though; we’re shifting it from newspaper and radio. The HFA Retail Performance Report helped hone our focus.”

Gross Margin Percentage “The HFA Retail Performance Report says that 51 percent gross margin is in the top 20 percent of performers for this metric. That is where I will be—period. I’m going to ensure


my best sellers and new items are priced properly. We’re going to focus on improving our customer experience and not worrying about our competition or the Internet. I’m going to make sure we price special orders properly and markdown our dogs fast. We have several members in our group who produce more than 52-percent gross margin, so I’m confident we can achieve this goal and beat the bar set by the HFA.”

Net Income (Profitability) “David (McMahon) always says there are two big things that produce cash flow—consistently decent profitability and consistently efficient inventory flow. After implementing David’s top inventory management methods, we’re focusing on keeping net income above the industry’s top 20 percent average of 7.77 percent (triple 7s). We have set achievable sales, gross margin, and spending goals and implemented executable actions. In fact, double digit profitability is where we want to be. We know we can get there since 40 percent of our group is there now.” These are actual stories of how the HFA’s Retail Performance Report has helped home furnishings retailers just like you improve the focus on their business after poring over the data. Retailers who contribute their time and, more importantly, their data and then use that data to improve are real leaders in the home furnishings industry. Together, I’m confident they will push the industry forward. I encourage you to be a part of this movement. Help grow your industry and you will help grow your business. It goes without saying I’m hoping you’ll take time out of your busy schedule and participate in the 2016 report! Visit nahfa.org/rpr/ to be a part of this year’s report. David McMahon, CSCP, CMA, EA is the author of the 2015 HFA Retail Performance Report. He’s a certified supply chain professional and management accountant. He is VP of consulting & performance groups for PROFITsystems, a HighJump company. Contact David at david.mcmahon@ highjump.com.

APRIL | 2016


Sales Training: Do You Preach it or Teach it? Everyone wants their sales staff to be its best. Few put in the time to make it happen. Here’s how. By Tom Shay


wo questions to get us started: Does your store give great customer service that leads to higher sales? Does your business have an ongoing staff education program? These two questions are tied to each other; whatever your answer is to one of them should also be your answer to the other one. Let’s take a look at the combination. If your answer to the second question—do you have an ongoing education

program—is no, then we have to wonder how you’re able to give great customer service without your having taught the appropriate components of customer service to your salespeople, office staff, and delivery people. Great customer service requires involvement by everyone in your store; the salespeople, the delivery staff, everyone who has the potential to come in contact with a customer. Essentially, everyone who works in your business.

If you want to have a yes to the first question, getting to yes on the second question is a detailed, but simple process. Perhaps the hardest part will be getting everyone’s buy-in for the staff education program. Explain to them that the education program will not only help the store’s bottom line, but if your staff is paid by commission, they will benefit, too. Also, you’ll notice we don’t refer to it as training because training is telling people what to do. Education recognizes that you hired

Keep it short and sweet

Set expectations from the start

Approve each lesson

Sales training should be a format similar to school with a class being one hour in length. The best time of day is before or after hours so there’s no interruption to the class. Holding the class every other week—26 classes in all—doesn’t create overkill.

You, the store’s owner, should run the first two months of class. Once your employees know what is expected, assign them the opportunity to teach multiple classes over the year. Keep a chart in the store outlining what is to be contained in each of the 26 classes, and have employees select which weeks they will be responsible for.

Before the employees start teaching the class themselves, they need to bring their class materials to you, the owner, a week in advance for approval. No putting together a class at the last minute. This is too important to be handled in such an impromptu way.


APRIL | 2016


your employees because of their intelligence and now you’re expecting them to use that intelligence to take care of your customers. Creating an education program starts with creating a list of what you want to teach your employees. Of course you include how to sell the initial item as well as making the add-on sale. You would include how to answer the telephone, handle a special order for a customer, and anything that will make your store operate better, requiring less immediate and direct instructions by you or your managers to the staff. The education program should be a format similar to school with a class being one hour in length. The best time of day is before or after hours so there’s no interruption to the class. Holding the class bi-weekly is the best frequency, so in this example you’d have 26 classes with multiple topics. Each class should have a main topic that consumes the majority of the class time with a second topic that deals with some operational procedure within the store. As an example, the main topic could be introducing a new line of lamps that’s been added to the product offering. During this part of the class you’d look at the various types, shapes and colors that were chosen to be added to the stock offering. The manufacturer’s catalog would also be discussed so that everyone would know of other special order options. The minor topic for the evening could be a review of how to write special orders and the process includes making a personal call to the customer when the lamp arrives. You could also review where special order merchandise should be kept so it’s not mistakenly put on the sales floor. Each class should have a written outline that’s given to each employee at the beginning of the class. This illustrates that the class isn’t an informal session with the teacher talking off the top of their head and that an effort has been made to respect the time that each person puts into the class. The outline keeps the class on topic and on time. At the end of the class, give a written 10 question test. The questions should be written in a manner that requires an answer of two to three sentences. As with all classes, employees should be reminded that one of the questions deals with the minor topic. The other nine

deal with the major topic with the caveat that one of the nine questions was not discussed during the class. This “trick” question requires each employee to seek out the teacher for that particular topic to discuss the question. The teacher keeps track of which employees seek them out because that’s considered part of the test. Experience shows that as employees speak to the teacher about this question, they’d most often ask the teacher about other components of the class session as well. Give attendees two days to complete the test. For example, if your class is held on Thursday evening, the test has to be turned into the office by close of business on Saturday evening. To mix things up and keep it interesting don’t have just one teacher. Require every employee to teach multiple classes over the course of the year. You can post the outline for each of the classes in the office and employees can select the weeks they want to teach. You (the owner) should teach the first few months so everyone can experience the format of the class and test. When the employees start teaching, have them bring their class materials to you one week before the class for approval. This prevents throwing together a class at the last minute and stresses the importance you put on staff education. Requiring everyone to teach classes lets them see the work that goes into it and elevates the level of the class. It also helps employees respect the effort and time put forth by their fellow employees. Don’t forget to grade the tests, making notes of corrections, and keep track of the scores. Anyone who scores 9 or 10 answers correctly receives a reward—maybe a gift card to a nearby diner or coffee shop. Getting employees engaged doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition. Their test results can also be part of their annual reviews. The cost of the class is minimal; one hour of wages for everyone in the business, and the cost of the rewards for the correct completion of the test. The reward to the business is immeasurable.

With unwavering commitment towards your success?

We do. Your Success is our Business.

Subscribe to Tom Shay’s e-ret@iler, a free monthly newsletter packed with tips for improving the profitability of your store, at profitsplus.org.


nahfa.org | 800.422.3778 APRIL | 2016 51

Give ’em What They Want!

Retailers who give their shoppers every tool to make a decision will build a relationship that might convert shoppers into customers. By Bill Napier


was inspired to write this article after reading a column recently on Business Insider by Mallory Schlossberg. In her column she wrote about the transformation happening to retailers everywhere, but one reference caused me to step back and think, “WOW!” It was about a company called Everlane, a new ecommerce retailer that boasts: “Know your factories. Know your costs. Always ask, ‘Why?’” This ecommerce start-up promotes total transparency and here’s how. It breaks down production costs, including labor, materials, transportation, taxes—just about everything a consumer needs to know to make an informed purchase. An example the company uses is a dress that would typically cost $190 on most retail websites can be bought through Everlane for $90. Same material, same production processes, same factories as name brand items that are made in Asia and other countries around the world. In other words, Everlane gives the consumer all the information needed to make an educated decision. OK, you’re saying it’s not furniture so why should I care? I’ll tell you a quick story. Back in the 90s I had a fairly successful marketing company with offices in Minneapolis and Chicago. My partner started buying all her clothes and shoes online, which I thought was nuts. I would always challenge her: “Don’t you have to touch the fabrics, try it on, and see if the product is the same as the picture?” Does this sound familiar, furniture retailers? Yep, no one will buy furniture online, that’s why Amazon has more than five million indexed pages of furniture, Wayfair more than seven million indexed pages and Houzz more 11.5 million. Are you starting to get my drift? If not, consider these


APRIL | 2016

numbers from the 2015 holiday season. According to MasterCard SpendingPulse, ecommerce sales between Black Friday and Christmas Eve rose roughly 20 percent this year compared to 2014, with furniture experiencing one of the biggest jumps in growth. I’ll bet more than 85 percent of these orders consisted of “special orders” as we call them. Most likely they were never touched, sat in, or shopped locally. That’s right, special orders. At least that’s what we call it when we only show on our websites what we have on the floor or instock—INSTEAD of showing everything we have open to buy— like Wayfair, Houzz, Amazon, and the other online furniture retailers do. If you have it available or can order it and you’re not showing it, why would you let those guys steal your business? If consumers search for a product and you don’t have it on your website, they assume it’s not available locally—where studies have shown they want to shop—so they go where they can find it. With this said, here are a few takeaways from the above: You need a website that is ecommerce ready—that includes pricing, too. More about the fear of showing prices online in a minute. Show every product of every brand you have open to buy. With a good website, you should be able to tag on the website every item that’s in your store, available or can be special ordered. Remember the special order analogy above, don’t be afraid to promote special orders. This addresses the huge variety of styles today’s consumers are looking for. But a website isn’t enough. It has to be mobile responsive because consumers have I-want moments. I want to: know, go, do, and buy moments.



I-want-to-go moments

I-want-to-do moments

I-want-to-buy moments



increase in "near me" search interest in the past year.4

of smartphone users turn to their phones for ideas while doing a task.6







of online consumers look up more information online now versus a few years ago.2

of smartphone users turn to their phones to look up something they saw in a TV commercial.3

of smartphone users use a search engine when looking for a local business.5

hours of “how-to” content have been watched on YouTube so far this year.7

Remember a few facts: Eighty-two percent of shoppers will never know you exist without a robust website, and 71 percent of all shoppers expect to view your in-store available products and what you have online, while they shop in your store. The facts don’t lie. On Thanksgiving, 40 percent of all sales were completed on mobile devices, another rise compared to last year, when one-third of sales were made on smartphones and tablets. Black Friday saw 35.3 percent of sales on mobile, according to IBM. Don’t forget to post your products, prices, promotions, and more everywhere, especially to local search sites like Google Business, YP.com, Yelp, and more. Consider a geo-marketing subscription that will post your information to more than 50 local search engines, every time you make a change. It’s not just about getting your product out in front of consumers. You need to get your message front and center, too. Do you remember a few years ago everyone was talking how Best Buy was toast, irrelevant, and failing? How showrooming was driving people to Amazon and other online retailers? I even used showrooming to negotiate the cost of my plasma TV down $300. That’s not the case anymore. Why? Simple, they brought in a new CEO and he instantly focused on winning over indifferent consumers by touting the chain’s expert service, pricematch guarantee, and free shipping on orders over $35 The results: Best Buy has been able to improve the revenue generated per square foot of its retail space from $780 in 2012 to $870 in 2014. So, what about the new strategies employed by Best Buy would make you not want to visit their retail store—even after you’ve shopped everywhere online for stuff they sell?

of smartphone users consult their phones while in a store deciding what to buy.8

increase in mobile conversion rates in the past year.9

Source: Google

I-want-to-know moments

HFA member Sherry Sheely of Sheely’s Furniture & Appliance in Ohio gets where Best Buy is coming from. Take a look at Sheely’s Furniture and how it promotes its retail brand online. Sherry has three videos you need to watch. The “About Us” video and, more importantly, the “We Service What We Sell” and the “Quality Service” videos. People don’t read as much anymore. They do watch videos, and a lot of them. Here’s what you learn about Sheely’s: • Owner’s promise speaking directly to prospective consumers • Large product selection—lots of in-stock items to shop and special order if you don’t find what you’re looking for • Everyday low pricing • Free local delivery • Pre-inspects everything (You think Wayfair, Houzz, and Amazon do that? That’s a big reason to buy locally.) • Assembles product as needed • Services what they sell • 60 years of service experience Next is Sherman’s Furniture & Appliance, with three stores in Illinois. There’s a video on its website that not only speaks to the retailer’s business values, but to the values consumers look for everyday when they’re looking to buy from a retailer. Here’s what you learn about Sherman’s: • Owner’s message to consumers • Personal service • 30-day guarantee. That’s right—send it back, no questions asked. • Price guarantee–against local and online ecommerce.


APRIL | 2016


• Large product selection • Next-day delivery, seven days a week • Incentive program for employees receiving superior customer service reviews. This is a motivator, people! These are stores that are doing it right. They’re eliminating the consumers’ needs or wants for taking their business online rather than shopping locally. Also, don’t forget your website needs a live chat. Make sure you promote your technology to you customers and that you want them to use it because you have nothing to hide. Don’t forget Everlane, which bends over backwards to give its customers all the information they need to purchase from them. If you don’t think this will happen to furniture, you’re wrong—it will. It’s not a question of if. I believe it’s a question of when. There are a lot of furniture factories around the world that won’t go down without a fight. Bill Napier is managing partner of Napier Marketing Group. He was the CMO of Ashley Furniture Industries. He can be reached at billnapier@napiermkt.com.


APRIL | 2016



@HPM MARKET NGN CRAWL Saturday, April 16, 2016 @ 6 pm “NGN Showroom Crawl” Saturday night gather at the RRC Buyers Lounge to start crawling.

txt messaging provided by:

LUNCH WITH LEADERS Monday, April 18, 2016 @ 11:30 am Various Showrooms –txt for updates sign up on line @ nextgenerationnow.net Visit the RRC B-1050 for details

Next Gen-NOW is an HFA-hosted community of young industry professionals whose mission is to give voice to the needs and goals of the industry’s next wave of leaders.

NAHFA.org • NextGenerationNOW.net •

@ngnow •



Why are You Still Swiping? Retailers who haven’t updated their terminals are putting themselves in financial jeopardy. It’s not too late to switch. By Kaprice Crawford


ard to believe, but even after all the warnings that have gone out in the past two years, there are still home furnishings retailers using old credit card terminals that do not comply with chip embedded (EMV) technology. If you’re one of those holdouts, you should know that you’re doing so at your own financial peril. It’s been more than five months since the Oct. 1 deadline for making the switch. Today, retailers who have not updated their bankcard terminals to accept EMV cards are starting to get hit with chargebacks.

What is EMV? EMV is a set of technical specifications, jointly developed by Europay, MasterCard, and Visa, which describes the standards for chip cards and terminals to communicate. EMV is the global standard for credit and debit card payments. It features payment cards with embedded chips that store and protect encrypted account user data, enhance the authentication of both the card and the cardholder, and effectively reduce fraudulent activity in the regions that have adopted this technology. When combined with the option of a PIN as a cardholder verification method, it can significantly reduce fraud. EMV offers enhanced security and fraud protection and reduces the cost of chargebacks. Chip card technology is virtually impossible to copy. Combining its use with a PIN helps to mitigate lost, stolen, and counterfeit transactions, hence reducing the number of chargebacks.


APRIL | 2016

Liability Shift October, 2015 In the past with magnetic stripe card technology, a business might not have been liable for the cost of disputed card-present transactions if a card is swiped through a terminal, the cardholder’s signature is captured, and an issuer authorization is obtained. That liability shift changed last October. Issuing banks are responsible for both counterfeit and lost and stolen chargeback fraud. But now if you, the merchant, do not have EMV-supported equipment and a fraudulent transaction occurs with a chip card, the liability for counterfeit fraud loss shifts to you and a chargeback will be charged. This EMV liability shift is designed to protect the investment of the entity that has invested in chip technology. The two Home Furnishings Association-supported bankcard processing programs, Chase Paymentech and Trekstone Financial, have supported equipment available for our members. If you belonged to either program before October 1, 2015, you should have been contacted to upgrade your current terminals. A simple download can be completed to your existing terminal or your terminal can be swapped out for a compliant terminal at no charge. If you have not been contacted, please call your HFA member services representative at 800.422.3778.


Kaprice Crawford, Home Furnishings Association membership director, can help answer your questions about the new chip-embedded technology available to association members. Call 800.422.3778 for more information.

Your One Stop Shop for Financing HFA provides its members access to primary, secondary, and no credit check options. PRIMARY CONSUMER FINANCING • Monthly finance rate bought down by HFA for members • Open-to-buy reports & consumer sweepstakes SECONDARY & NO CREDIT CHECK CONSUMER FINANCING • Close up to 80% of declined customers • Advertise No Credit Check CREDIT CASCADE • Drive more applications with in-store kiosks (private, fast, & secure) • Unified application process for all lenders


ur o Y fit


ne t Be


Th s t fi e


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To learn more about this HFA member program visit nahfa.org or call:


Always providing members discounted pricing through our national programs.


Don’t miss Jerry Epperson’s State of the Industry address— in the HFA Resource Center! SUNDAY 9am

Someone else was as passionate about your business as you are? C

We are. Your success is our business.


Come see us. HFA supports your what if—



The Resource Center Plaza Suites – 1st floor KF


myhfa.org | nahfa.org | 800.422.3778 RetailerNOWmag.com

JANUARY | 2016





ACA/Advertising Concepts of America .............................39 Banner Marketing ............................................................27 FurnitureDealer.net ..........................................................37 Furniture Wizard ............................................................. 28 Imagine Advertising & Publishing, Inc. ............................13 Knorr Marketing ..............................................................15 Mail America .............................................................20, 21 Moso Graphics ..................................................................9 Spectrum Marketing........................................................12

Sponsored by









FurnitureCore/ImpactConsulting .........................18, 19, 29 JRM Sales & Management ..............................................11 7YVĂ„[HIPSP[`*VUZ\S[PUN.YV\W .........................................17







































FINANCIAL SERVICES Champion First ..................................................................7 Flexshopper ....................................................................33 Synchrony Financial .............................................16, 31 ;PKL^H[LY-PUHUJPHS*VTWHU` ........................................ 40 TEMPOE ......................................................................... 10 Trekstone ........................................................................ 26 Simple Finance..................................................................3 APII`................................................................................. 6

PRODUCTS and SERVICES Amber Engine ..................................................................25 )LZ[)\`MVY)\ZPULZZ ............................................34, 35 HFA .............................................................................14 D’Lange Mobile .................................................................5 RTUI ................................................................................24 Service Lamp Corporation ............................................. 30

SOFTWARE MicroD, Inc. ...................................................................1, 2 4`YPHK:VM[^HYL ........................................................41, 42 796-0;Z`Z[LTZH/PNOQ\TW7YVK\J[ .......................22, 23 STORIS......................................................................43, 44

WAREHOUSE & DELIVERY *VY`Z[*OVPJL/VTL+LSP]LY` ........................................4 Diakon Logistics ............................................................. 36 DispatchTrack ................................................................ 38 United Steel Storage (USSI) ............................................32

INSURANCE & WARRANTIES Risk Assurance Partners, LLC ......................................... 8




Along with the many business service providers showing in the Retailer Resource Center, HFA is proud to feature Endorsed Program Partners. When researching your next partner, look for the Endorsed Program icon for exclusive HFA member discounts and/or services.


ARPIL | 2016





SATURDAY, APRIL 16 9:00 am – 10:00 am

Beat the Competition with Creative Finance Austin Allred, Simple Finance

10:30 am – 11:30 am Reaching Your Social Media Audience. An Open Discussion on Best Practices.

Joe Milevsky, JRM Sales


Stop Mailing, Start Texting

David Phillips, D’LangeMobile

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

12:30 pm – 1:30 pm

Omnichannel Revenue is Happening NOW—Let’s Get You Selling

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

State of the Furniture Industry


Jerry Epperson, Mann, Armistead & Epperson, LTD

10:30 am – 11:30 am Today’s Store for Tomorrow’s Customer

9:00 am – 10:00 am

Go With the (Data) Flow

10:30 am – 11:30 am Connecting the Dots— A Holistic Approach to Your Business

Michael Kumm, Amber Engine

How to Sell Value Instead of Price

Lorna Hunter, JRM Sales & Management, Inc.

Philip M. Gutsell, GutSELL & Associates

3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

12:30 pm – 1:30 pm

*QY+PFWUVT[5RGEKĹżE6GEJ%CP5CXG Your Brick-and-Mortar Business Bill Napier, Imagine Advertising & Napier Marketing Group

The Power of Story Kimberley Wray, Catina Roscoe, and Ellen Gefen, Kimberley Wray Marketing Communications

Martin Roberts, Martin Roberts Design

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Dynamic Retail Solutions for a Modern World Connie Post, Affordable Design Solutions


12:30 pm – 1:30 pm

Using Analytics and Big Data to Maximize Sales and ROI

Blake Berte, AVP of Analytics Consulting, Synchrony

4 Don’ts and 5 Dos to Drive Greater Store 6TCHſECPF5CNGU Doug Knorr, Knorr Marketing

9:00 am – 10:00 am

Selling Green Solutions

Susan Inglis, Sustainable Furnishings Council

Jessica Norby, MicroD Inc.

3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

How to Sell Merchandise Online Denise Keniston, Web4Retail

10:30 am – 11:30 am Anatomy of a Salesperson 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm

9:00 am – 10:00 am

Designers As Change Agents Mary Knackstedt, Mary K Interiors

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Sowing the Seeds of Success John Brubaker, Coachbru

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

$QQM5KIPKPI John Brubaker, Coachbru

4:30 pm – 5:30 pm

The keys to Developing Strong Management



APRIL | 2016


HFA’s Retailer Resource Center



2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Omnichannel Revenue is Happening NOW—Let’s Get You Selling

9:00 am – 10:00 am Beat the Competition with Creative Finance

Jessica Norby, MicroD Inc.

Austin Allred, Simple Finance

Seamless consumer engagement is going to be a vital part of your selling future. It’s time to implement a strategy and start asking the tough questions: If you’re not providing a seamless consumer experience between online and in-store, what’s stopping you? How can you provide shoppers with the best “touch and feel” product presentation online? What’s your plan for managing online sales inquiries? Do you know how your in-store sales team feels about your online presence and its potential—is it a competition or collaboration? Learn how to integrate in-store and online selling components to encourage staff participation, drive traffic, close sales, and stay relevant in your retail market.

Establish the size of the market (and how the recent recession has only made that market even larger). Credit is easily damaged but takes longer to repair than does an individual’s economic status, meaning people generally get back on their feet long before their credit has time to reflect this, leading to a large group of folks wanting to buy, but unable to finance large purchases. Customers with bad credit KNOW they have bad credit! This is where I will explain how to MAKE no credit financing work in your store through POP, creative (but affordable) program advertising, and the education of your sales staff.

3:30 pm – 4:30 pm 10:30 am – 11:30 am

4 Don’ts and 5 Dos to Drive Greater Store Traffic and Sales! Doug Knorr, Knorr Marketing

Anatomy of a Salesperson Joe Milevsky, JRM Sales

What makes one salesperson succeed while others fail? What’s the magic profile for a strong salesperson in our industry? Where do I find my best candidates? Why would top salespeople come to work for me? How can I increase the probability that I can position salespeople to succeed? How do I ensure my salespeople have enough, but not too much, of my stores’ traffic? Find out these answers and more with Joe Milevsky as he uncovers the anatomy of a good salesperson.

12:30 pm – 1:30 pm

This high-energy seminar will help you understand what you’re doing that hinders increased sales and what you can do to increase market share, traffic, sales and profitability. Doug Knorr, president of Knorr Marketing, and his team will show you how to maneuver away from the pitfalls that keep retailers from growing their business and explain the five proven cross-channel marketing strategies that will drive new customers and more traffic into your store.

SUNDAY, APRIL 17 9:00 am – 10:00 am

Stop Mailing, Start Texting

State of the Furniture Industry

David Phillips, D’LangeMobile

Jerry Epperson, Mann, Armistead & Epperson, LTD

Companies across the United States continue to spend millions of dollars per year on solicitations, payment reminders, and collections via regular mail to an existing customer base only to receive (at best) a 2% ROI. SMS, MMS, IVR, and email automation are all tools that furniture retailers and software companies should be incorporating to communicate with their customers and potential customers on a global scale. In addition to the technological aspects of the above, D’LangeMobile will also provide attendees with legal and compliance guidance.

The home furnishings industry is entering a renewed “Golden Age of Retailing” thanks to technology, the economy, demographics, and specific industry opportunities that are coming together. Other industry sectors are now envying us—as hard as that is to believe.


APRIL | 2016


HFA’s Retailer Resource Center — Seminar Descriptions


10:30 am – 11:30 am Today’s Store for Tomorrow’s Customer

9:00 am – 10:00 am

Martin Roberts, Martin Roberts Design

Martin Roberts will explain the process of redesigning and redeveloping store exteriors, interiors, and branding. Owners and executives can benefit from a clear explanation of the timing and costs using one of this year’s most exciting projects as an example. Ecommerce and Millennial buyers open opportunities to reposition stores in new ways, and create unique buying experiences. Bring your questions and open your mind to new possibilities.

12:30 pm – 1:30 pm Go With the (Data) Flow

How to Sell Merchandise Online Denise Keniston, Web4Retail

The landscape for selling online has changed! This holiday season we saw online sales surge yet again with the advent of free shipping, smartphone apps, and email. If it all seems out of reach for you, the independent dealer, don’t despair. This actually is your best opportunity to start selling your products online. Denise Keniston will clearly outline the latest technologies that will make your online store a winner!

10:30 am – 11:30 am

Michael Kumm, Amber Engine

Hear about the challenges of both adopting and ignoring standards from different industries throughout time. In this session, we’ll discuss these standards across history/industries; major achievements and epic fails. Learn how to apply the lessons to your business today and create a plan of action.

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm How to Sell Value Instead of Price Philip M. Gutsell, GutSELL & Associates

Most salespeople end up selling price instead of value (especially the average to below average performers.) If they understood the sales formula that connects with customers, they would close more often and with larger average tickets. The net result will lead to more volume, more margin, and most importantly, long term customer relationships.

Reaching Your Social Media Audience. An Open Discussion on Best Practices. Jeff Evans, SOCIAL DEALER CONNECT

Let’s have an open discussion on growing an online army of advocates for your brand, your store. Social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are the platforms that people, especially Millennials, use to talk about and engage with stores and brands. The key is to create content and engagement that cause those conversations to be about you. Let’s tell stories and cover your community in a way that results in conversations with people who don’t even realize they’ll be a customer, a store ambassador, or both. The end result is a trusting, engaged community that ultimately drives sales.

12:30 pm – 1:30 pm Selling Green Solutions Susan Inglis, Sustainable Furnishings Council

3:30 pm – 4:30 pm How Industry-Specific Tech Can Save Your Brick-and-Mortar Business Bill Napier, Imagine Advertising & Napier Marketing Group

According to MasterCard and The Wall Street Journal, the home furnishings category achieved double digit growth in online sales—one of the fastest-growing categories online. In this session, we’ll introduce three game-changing technologies that WILL drive traffic to your stores, create leads, and help you close the sale. More importantly, these technologies will help you outsmart your competition, mitigate the market penetration of online retailers in your local market, and engage today’s consumer who uses technology every day to find and purchase products.


APRIL | 2016

Answer the questions most commonly asked by customers, in simple and compelling ways. What’s the difference between green and sustainable? Who’s interested, and when will they start asking for it? How much are they willing to pay? What does it say about your regular products? Why should you buy now, and can it make a difference? Learn how to initiate, advance and close a green sale among ordinary customers.

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Using Analytics and Big Data to Maximize Sales and ROI Blake Berte, AVP of Analytics Consulting, Synchrony

This presentation will focus on a series of case studies that highlight how analytical insights can be leveraged to drive better investment and marketing strategies for retailers to maximize sales, increase customer retention, and grow profitability. Topics and case studies include: benefits of analytics; media mix optimization; customer segmentation; store optimization; next likely purchase models; data visualization; and analytic guidelines and principles. Learn how analytics can serve as a differentiator to help grow and improve your company performance through actionable insights and strategies.


HFA’s Retailer Resource Center — Seminar Descriptions 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm

3:30 pm – 4:30 pm Dynamic Retail Solutions for a Modern World

Designers As Change Agents

Connie Post, Affordable Design Solutions

Mary Knackstedt, Mary K Interiors

Join Connie Post, the industry’s expert in retail design, for a fastpaced look at stores that sizzle. Strap on your seat belt for a whirlwind tour of news-making stores across the country as the industry’s own takes on the industry. She’ll focus on transformative retail strategies currently in play, and insights into engaging customer experiences that really work from the retail strategist who understands shoppers best. Along the way, you’ll benefit from a master’s class in trend-setting interiors, exteriors and graphics that amp up traffic, along with enlightened visual identity and merchandising concepts that set leaders apart in their marketplaces. Hold on tight!

Join author, interior designer and business strategist Mary Knackstedt to learn how home furnishings retailers can benefit from adapting the sales techniques of leading designers. There’s a reason interior designers often become close friends with the clients, it’s because of the role they play in enhancing their lives. People today don’t want to be ‘sold,’ they want assistance from knowledgeable people with whom they have relationships. They want to buy experiences. Knackstedt has taught many of the leading designers in business today how to build successful enterprises. Come hear from the expert how retail salespeople can adapt her approach to build sales.


2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

9:00 am – 10:00 am

Sowing the Seeds of Success

The Power of Story

John Brubaker, Coachbru

Kimberley Wray, Catina Roscoe and Ellen Gefen Kimberley Wray Marketing Communications

Too often, business leaders focus too much on their specific discipline, neglecting the most important aspect of their job responsibilities—leadership. In this session, you’ll learn tried-and-true methods to discover untapped leadership potential in yourself and your team. Walk away revved up to create a higher-performing, more cohesive team. Discover how leaders successfully align the vision, mission, and values of their team with the talents of its members.

Join award-winning business writer and marketing strategist Kimberley Wray and her special guests for a fast-paced guide to corporate storytelling. Come learn why this crucial strategic business tool has become the new gospel for business, and how you too can develop engaging narratives that simply and compellingly relate your story to customers. With insights from across the Market and behind the scenes, you’ll come away with thought-provoking ideas for creating memorable messages about the products and services you sell that motivate consumers to “buy” in this ultra-connected era of content and meaning.

10:30 am – 11:30 am

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm Book Signing! John Brubaker, Coachbru

4:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Connecting the Dots—A Holistic Approach to Your Business

The Keys to Developing Strong Management John Egger, Profitability Consulting Group

Lorna Hunter, JRM Sales & Management, Inc.

Things that might have brought you success in the past are simply not enough to bring the potential success you could achieve today. I’ve seen businesses fail to meet their potential or fail completely because they did not understand that every aspect of their business must be aligned. The focus of this seminar is to give attendees a better understanding of how to engineer positive business outcomes. Learn how improvement in one area of your business can be completely undone by some other area of your business and what to do to ensure that doesn’t happen.

All areas of your store need to be managed to develop your people to their potential. For five decades I have developed the best management system and processes in the furniture industry. This will be your most valuable hour at market.


APRIL | 2016



The Home Furnishings Association's NETWORKING CONFERENCE

Partnering with:

May 22-24


The Westin • Long Beach •CA

what if? You could network with peers who love to share best practices, while enjoying a relaxing time re-energizing in your SoCal office?

$150 OFF MEMBER SPECIAL Signature Sponsor

You can!

Take a worcation. Visit some nearby beaches or attractions—enjoy the sun, the waves and the California vibe.


APRIL | 2016


Operations Merchandise g, our el. n i s i t r ake y t lev e v d A e to t e nex w o b puzzl to th e L r cto of the s sales e H h s e Horic last piec d mattre the iture an furn

Sales Top 100 Stores, FMG Members and Furniture 1st Stores turn to Horich Hector Lebow Advertising because we do it better than anyone else. Media Placement

Television Commercials

Digital Media

Planning Budgeting

Direct Mail

Print Production

High Point Market/ Thursday, April 14 - Wednesday, April 20 In the Klaussner Furniture Showroom / 101 North Hamilton Street At the market, call Brad Lebow 443-956-3538 to make an appointment to see us.


2016 Tax Changes for Small Businesses By Eric Blackledge


hough retailers will be happy to hear they’re getting a couple of tax breaks this year that will allow for quicker cost recovery of new business investments, there are more requirements to the Affordable Care Act. At the end of 2015, Congress passed an on-going extension of Section 179 Small Business Expensing for purchases of up to $500,000 of new or used personal property and equipment each year. Congress also extended the bonus depreciation treatment for larger investments, allowing an extra 50-percent write-off in the first year for investments made in 2015 -2017, with a 40-percent bonus in 2018 and a 30-percent bonus in 2019. Also included was a continuation of 15-year depreciation for retail real property improvements on leased buildings. These benefits can be combined on many vehicle and equipment purchases to reduce taxable income in the year of purchase to help finance the investment. Section 179 applies to almost any kind of equipment, from office furniture to software to vehicles. The IRS has also made it easier and simpler for businesses to recover, repair, or replacement costs of both real and personal property assets with the new finalized “Tangible Property Regulations”. The new regulations better clarify when repairs or replacements of all, or parts, of property and equipment assets can be currently expensed. They allow an election to expense some repairs and replacements, rather


APRIL | 2016

than depreciate them over the standard life of the property. New safe-harbor provisions allow current year expensing of amounts to repair tangible real property or replace business equipment of up to $2,500 per invoice or item. For larger business with CPA-audited financial statements the safe-harbor is $5,000 per invoice or item. Unlike Section 179 expensing, this expensing is done at the business level, even for pass-through entities such as S corporations, and is not subject to recapture. Larger purchases can be made as long as each item and invoice is under the limit. For more information on these provisions see your tax preparer or get more information at irs.gov and sba.gov. The New Year also brings increased requirements and potential penalties for businesses under the Affordable Care Act. Businesses with 51 to 99 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees are now required to provide minimum essential health insurance coverage to at least 70 percent of their employees, or pay a penalty ($2,000 per employee). It is also important for all businesses to understand and comply with the new W-2 reporting requirements for employer-provided insurance coverage. The ACA requires employers to report, on each employee’s W-2 form, the cost of the health coverage the employer provided. A breakdown of what the employer and the employee each paid is required in box 12 of the form. Failing to report this information could cost $200 per employee


in fines. The IRS extended the reporting deadline to May 31 for paper filings and June 30 for electronic filings. Businesses should also be watchful this year of identity theft problems as tax fraud criminals are filing more fraudulent business tax returns to get refunds, using stolen EIN numbers. Although members of Congress and presidential candidates continue to talk about major tax system changes such as a VAT tax or a unified business income tax system, retailers shouldn't expect any significant tax changes for domestic businesses until at least 2017, and their possible direction will depend heavily on the outcome of this fall’s elections. Unfortunately, since most recent tax changes have added significantly to the annual budget deficit, it is wise to assume that overall tax levels will probably increase in the future. HFA member Eric Blackledge is president of Blackledge Furniture in Corvallis, Oregon. Blackledge works on small business tax policy issues and serves on the association’s Government Relations Action Team. You can reach him at Eric@BlackledgeFurniture.com.

Tip-over prevention is everyone’s business! Every two weeks, a child dies in the U.S. when furniture, an appliance, or a TV tips over on them, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. By working together, we can help reduce the risk and prevent tragedies involving our industry’s products.

Together, we can reduce the risk. MANUFACTURERS:




Make sure the furniture you produce or import meets the ASTM Standard Safety Specification for Clothing Storage Units (F2057-14). This is an international, voluntary consensus standard for furniture stability developed by a broad group of stakeholders, including manufacturers, retailers, regulators and child safety advocates.

Make sure all products you sell meet the voluntary stability standard. Educate your customers on the importance of using the supplied tip restraints that come with all compliant products.

Make sure the lines you represent meet the voluntary stability standard. Help your retail customers understand the importance of the standard. Learn more at:

When working with clients who have small children, emphasize the importance of anchoring furniture, appliances and televisions. Don’t source products that fail to meet the voluntary stability standard.

www.ahfa.us/issues/ product-safety/

Learn more at:

Find in-store resources at: http://www.anchorit.gov/ get-involved/

http://www.anchorit.gov/ get-involved/

Learn more at: www.ahfa.us/issues/ product-safety/


APRIL | 2016



Welcome New HFA Members The HFA recognizes and welcomes the following new members:

Casey Turney

Rocky Whisman

Shelley Raymond

Ardinger’s Fine Furniture, Kodiak, AK

Harbor Light Furniture & Flooring, Polson, MT

Vestalia Home, Farmington, MI

Tracy Haskell

Wier Furniture, Lewsiton, MT

Bill Mahone Atlas Floors Carpet One, San Antonio, TX

Tom Stevens

Jim Wier

Haskell Furniture & Flooring, Lovell, WY

Baker Furniture, Baker, MT

Phil Johnson

Lance Heuscher

Johnson Furniture & Ace Hardware, Sidney, MT

Bitney’s Furniture, Kalispell, MT

Byron Smith

John Wilson Wilson’s Furniture, Ferndale, WA

Linda Small Affinity Furniture, Clarksboro, NJ

Elmer Karl

David Stobaugh

Karl’s Inc., North Platte, NE

Affordable Fine Furniture Outlet, Prescott Valley, AZ

Edwards Furniture Co., Providence, UT

Aaron Ligocki

Jamie Heipel

Mossholders Furniture, Gregory, SD

Cal Eklund Eklunds Fine Furniture, Great Falls, MT

American Specialties, Ramsey, MN

David Nelson Nelson Furniture, Valentine, NE

Melanie Pizzonia Exquisite Design, Albuquerque, NM

Wendell Alan Martens

Paul Landon

Ergo Sleep Centers, Clarkston, MI

Oakridge Furniture Outlet, Idaho Falls, ID

Furnished, Lakeway, TX

Robert Peer

Raed Fawzi Saleh

Peers Furniture Store, Brandywind, WV

Furniture City & Wholesale, Bronx, NY

Robert Fischer Fischer Furniture, Rapid City, SD

Chris Saylor

Alfred Rude

Furniture Superstore, Albuquerque, NM

Kelly McCarty

Farrah Abraham

Ahmad Razzag

Rude’s Home Furnishings, Brookings, SD

Harlem Furniture, New York, NY

Furniture Warehouse, Klamath Falls, OR

Brent Skaggs

Dave Akers

Skaggs Furniture, Burley, ID

Kingman Furniture, Kingman, AZ

Ron Grove

Sue Mantz

Rick Tofanelli

Spencer Furniture, Sioux Falls, SD

Nantucket Home Furnishings, Chico, CA

Grove’s Furniture & Bedroom, Plentywood, MT

Adam Granley The Total Home, Ronan, MT



Randy Stewart

Lara Anthony

Tempoe, Manchester, NH

Credit Source, Green Cove Springs, FL

APRIL | 2016


HFACOMMUNITY (Sub)-urban Sit winning awards, customers in first year

Sherrie and Phil Bearden’s store, (Sub)-urban Sit, was named Best Furniture Store by Cleveland Magazine in 2015. The store only opened last May.

Someone forgot to tell HFA member (Sub)-urban Sit that a new home furnishings store must crawl before it walks, because owners Phil and Sherrie Bearden have it all backwards. The store in Hudson, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, has barely been open 11 months and has already been recognized for its unique designs and furniture. The store was named Best Furniture Store by Cleveland Magazine last year and best new business by the Hudson Chamber of Commerce. Oh, by the way: Business is doing pretty good, too. Phil Bearden says the community has embraced the store’s eclectic cross between Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters. “It’s been nice to see how positive the reaction has been,” says Bearden. “I think it’s only going to get better.”

Sherrie Bearden runs another business in town, but still finds time to curate and stage the pieces for (Sub)-urban Sit, which sells a lot of transitional and mid-century modern furniture. Phil, a 22-year retired electrical engineer from the Army, handles the day-to-day operations. The couple were already tinkering with opening a store when they were having breakfast one morning on Main Street in Hudson and noticed a lease sign in the town’s former Gap store. The store opened on Mother’s Day, six weeks after signing a lease. “When you’re paying rent on a prime piece of property, you’re motivated to do things a little faster,” Phil says, laughing. The store sells Classic Home, Four Hands, fellow HFA member Surya, as well as pieces from local artists and designers.

Elements International aids Texas tornado victims An HFA associate member is helping victims of a series of devastating Texas tornados get back on their feet. Casegoods importer Elements International is providing much-needed bedroom furniture to families whose homes were damaged from tornados that hammered part of North Texas on the afternoon of Dec. 26. Eleven people, including an infant, were killed, and as many as 11 tornadoes were reported to the National Weather Service. Rockwall, Texas, the home of Elements International, was among the cities in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area in the path of the tornadoes. The tornados caused the Federal Emergency Management Association to declare the state a disaster area.

Elements responded quickly to the storm, donating furniture to a local church and charitable organization. The company’s customer service department has worked directly with families identified by the relief organizations to determine their specific needs. Elements’ warehouse team delivered and helped set up furniture for many families who were not insured for the damage. “We’re incredibly thankful that our distribution center and local offices were unaffected by the damage and even more so that our employees and their families were uninjured,” says Mike Wurster, president “We’re humbled by the opportunity to play a part in helping local families rebuild what they have lost.”


APRIL | 2016


HFACOMMUNITY HFA and former SHFA members gather for reunion The members of the Willis Award Committee recently held a reunion with Blair and Ben Willis and Jenny and Ben Willis, III at the Sheraton Waterside Hotel in Norfolk, Va. The Willis Award of Merit was established by the Willis family in 1954 and presented annually to a home furnishings retailer in the Southern Home Furnishings area who was outstanding in four areas: • Community activities • Conduct of their business • Service to their God • Service to the furniture industry The award was discontinued in 2013 after the merger of the previous retail associations into the North American Home Furnishings Association. Earlier this year the NAHFA shortened its name to the Home Furnishings Association. Nine award winners attended the luncheon: included Ned Dobson (1985), Sherrill Shaw (1987), and Warren Channel (1990), Phil Kennett (2001), Rick Stork (2005), Alan Dossenbach (1999),


APRIL | 2016

From left to right, Ben Willis II, CEO of Willis Furniture, is joined at the Willis Award Committee reunion by Warren Channel, Willis’s wife Jenny, and Channel’s wife Gayle. Warren retired recently from Lynch Sales after having retired from his furniture business.

and HFA members Rex Maynard (1989), Marc Schewel (1996), and Kerry Clippard (2000). The group was joined by Mary Frye,


executive vice-president of the HFA. The committee continues to help fund the Ben Willis Scholarships at High Point University.

HFACOMMUNITY WithIt honoring Designer Connie Post with Legacy Award Women in the Home Industies Today (WithIt), an organization dedicated to the development of professional women, will honor Connie Post of Affordable Design Solutions by Connie Post with the organization’s Legacy Award at this year’s WOW Awards celebration during High Point Market. According to WithIt, Post’s lifetime of contributions to the industry and her leadership among women for more than 35 years embody the qualities of the Legacy category, the highest award bestowed by WithIt. The annual WOW awards recognize business leaders nominated by their peers who have contributed to the success of the home furnishings industry and have demonstrated significant impact on their companies, the industry, or both. WithIt has presented the honors since 1999. In addition to honoring Post, WithIt will present WOW Awards in four additional categories: Education, Mentoring, Leadership, and Future Leader. The Education Award recognizes an individual who has put

forth significant effort to educate associates, retailers and consumers about home furnishings. This year’s nominees are Patricia Bowling of American Home Furnishings Alliance, Susan Lorenz of Kravet Furniture and Christi Tasker of PuTTin’OuT. The Mentoring Award honors a company or individual for their efforts to foster advocacy, development and promotion of women in their company and the industry. Mentoring Award nominees are Lisa Ferguson of Décor Mentor, Leslie Carothers of The Kaleidoscope Partnership and Renee Loper-Boyd of International Market Centers. WithIt created the Leadership Award to recognize the contributions of a woman over age 40 who has demonstrated successful leadership in her company, WithIt and the home furnishings industry. Leadership Award nominees are Irene Crowell of Ashley Furniture Industries, Katherine Juckett of Telescope Casual Furniture and Marilyn Durning of STORIS Inc. The Future Leader Award honors a woman in the industry younger than 40 who has demonstrated outstanding achievement and the potential to become an industry leader. 2016 nominees for this award are Emily Martin of Lexington Home Brands, Stephanie Lena of Somerton Dwelling and Marissa Kashani of Louis Shanks of Texas.

Do you have something for the HFA Community? Send your information and hi-res photos to Robert Bell, rbell@nahfa.org.


APRIL | 2016



Atlanta International Area Rug Market

Spring High Point Market

July 13-16 Atlanta, Georgia Americasmart.com

April 16-20 High Point, North Carolina Highpointmarket.org

Summer Las Vegas Market

International Contemporary Furniture Fair May 14-17 New York City, New York Icff.com

Tupelo Fall Furniture Market

Home Furnishings Networking Conference May 22-24 Long Beach, California Thehfnc.com

Louisville Furniture Market May 25-26 Louisville, Kentucky Louisvillefurnituremarket.com

Canadian Furniture Show May 28-30 Toronto, Ontario, Canada Canadianfurnitureshow.com

Showtime June 5-6 High Point, North Carolina Showtime-market.com

NeoCon June 13-15 Chicago, Illinois Neocon.com

July 31-August 4 Las Vegas, Nevada lLsvegasmarket.com

August 18-21 Tupelo, Mississippi Tupelofurnituremarket.com

Casual Market Chicago September 20-23 Chicago, Illinois Casualmarket.com

Fall High Point Market October 22-26 High Point, North Carolina Highpointmarket.org

2017 Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market January 10-17 Atlanta, Georgia Americasmart.com

Atlanta International Area Rug Market January 11-14 Atlanta, Georgia Americasmart.com

WithIt Conference June 19-21 Charleston, South Carolina Withit.org

Winter Las Vegas Market January 22-26 Las Vegas, Nevada Lasvegasmarket.com

Dallas International Lighting Market June 22-25 Dallas, Texas Dallasmarketcenter.com

Dallas International Lighting Market January 18-22, 2017 Dallas, Texas Dallasmarketcenter.com

Dallas Total Home & Gift Market June 22-28 Dallas, Texas Dallasmarketcenter.com

Dallas Total Home & Gift Market January 18-24, 2017 Dallas, Texas Dallasmarketcenter.com

Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market July 12-19 Atlanta, Georgia Americasmart.com


HFA-hosted events are highlighted in red.

APRIL | 2016


ADINDEX 220 Elm (336) 884-8220 220elm.com 220elm @220elm Page 7 Canadian Furniture Show (866) 468-4436 canadianfurnitureshow.com CanadianFurnitureShow @CdnFurnShow Page 29 Connie Post (304) 736-7283 conniepost.com Page 23 Cresent (615) 975-4862 cresent.com Cresent.furniture @cresentfurniture Page 21 General Finishes Fax: (262) 642-4707 generalfinishes.com generalfinishes @GeneralFinishes Page 46

High Point Market (336) 869-1000 highpointmarket.org http://tinyurl.com/ HighPtMarket @hpmarketnews Page 3 Home Furnishings Association (800) 422-3778 myhfa.org theNAHFA @NAHFA Page 15, 57 Horich Hector Lebow (800) 878-8989 hhladv.com Page 65 Imagine Advertising & Publishing (866) 832-3214 imagineadv.com Page 70-71

Inwood Furniture Manufacturing inwoodfurniture.net Page 73 Jofran jofran.com JofranInc Page 17 John Thomas Furniture (a division of Whitewood Industries)

(336) 472-0303 johnthomasfurniture.com johnthomasfurniture Page 33 Myriad (800) 676-4243 myriadsoftware.com Myriad Inside Back Cover Northwest Furniture Xpress (828) 475-6377 nwfxpress.com Back Cover


ProfitSystems (800) 888-5565 profitsystems.com PROFITsystems @PROFITsystems Pull out at Page 32 STORIS (888) 4-STORIS storis.com STORIS.solutions @STORIS Page 5 Sunbrella (336) 221-2211 sunbrella.com sunbrella @sunbrella Page 47 Surya (877) 275-7847 surya.com SuryaSocial @SuryaSocial Inside Cover

Synchrony Financial (800) 422-3778 nahfa.org Page 9 TEMPOE 844-TODAY4U tempoe.com TEMPOEsocial @tempoe Page 27 Tidewater (800) 535-4087 x6553 tidewaterfinance.com Tidewater Finance Company @TidewaterMotor Page 13 Truckskin (877) 866-7546 truckskin.com TruckSkin @TruckSkin Page 54

To advertise in RetailerNow, contact Lynn Orr at (916) 757-1160.

APRIL | 2016


NOWLIST Balancing Act

Staggering Stat Seven out of 10 people globally live on $10 or less per day

35% of respondents to a work-life balance survey said the lack of family and ůŝĨĞƐƚLJůĞďĞŶĞĮƚƐŚĂƐŚĂƌŵĞĚ their work performance.

Source: Pew Research Center

Source: Care.com


Facebook has 1.49 billion average monthly users; an average of 968 million daily users. As a community &ĂĐĞŬ͛ƐƉŽƉƵůĂƟŽŶŝƐ bigger than every country except China and India.

The LinkNYC ŝŶŝƟĂƟǀĞŝƐƚƵƌŶŝŶŐ 7,500 New York City phone booths into Wi-Fi hot spots ŽīĞƌŝŶŐĨƌĞĞŐŝŐĂďŝƚ broadband access up to 150 feet. Parent company CityBridge will make its money by showing ads and PSAs on digital displays at each hot spot.

Source: Seekingalpha.com

A Green (Big) Apple MillionTreesNYC, a partnership between New York City’s parks & rec department and a ŶŽŶƉƌŽĮƚ͕ŚĂƐƉůĂŶƚĞĚϭŵŝůůŝŽŶ ƚƌĞĞƐŝŶƚŚĞĐŝƚLJͶƐƟŶŐƚŚĞ urban canopy by ϮϬй͘dŚĞƉůĂŶƟŶŐƐ went beyond parks to include private- and public-owned mixed-use land. Source: Next City

Source: ZDNet


APRIL | 2016



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When Every Delivery Counts... Cory knows that your reputation and profitability are on the line with every home delivery. That’s why for 82 years, the Cory family has built a business based on long-term relationships, mutual trust, and shared goals.

Visit Cory at High Point, Retail Resource Center, Plaza Suites and our Delivery Truck parked on West Commerce Street - or call 201-795-1000 RetailerNOWmag.com

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that enhances customer loyalty.


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APRIL | 2016


Market Phone:

(231) 218-1747

Space 20, 21

MARKETPLACESERVICES Visit Us For Market Specials


Ask us more.



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APRIL | 2016



www.RAPtns.com | 561-450-7200

Open These Doors to a Great



Because Our Direct Mail WORKS! RRC #9 | greg@spectrummarketing.com | 508.523.0937 | furnituremailings. com

Point of Sale

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Visit Us at High Point Market in the RRC Booth 44

www.STORIS.com | 1.888.4. STORIS | sales@STORIS.com

Engage with us at SynchronyBusiness.com Credit is extended by Synchrony Bank. Š 2016 Synchrony Financial


APRIL | 2016


MARKETPLACESERVICES gets your furniture rolling out the door.

Booth #10 — Retailer Resource Center


YOUR FIRST CHOICE FOR SECONDARY FINANCING Retailer Resource Center #40 1.866.785.0235 | tcsmarketing@twcs.com www.tidewater.credit

GROW YOUR BUSINESS WITH TOUCHSCREEN GROW YOUR BUSIN TECHNOLOGY TEC TOUCHSCREEN • Show your entire inventory, every color and style • Attract more customers and keep them engaged • Highlight key products, promotions and brands

Visit us at the Resource Center or call an Account Manager today at 1-866-214-3226

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APRIL | 2016





e’ve got pictures like this all over our stores. It’s nice to see them and think about all the people through all the years that have come to rely on us. We got our start in the gold rush of the 1800s. We sold blasting powder and pick axes and gold pans to folks coming here to find their fortune. Around 1920 we acquired another merchant who sold furniture and that’s how we got into the furniture business. We’ve got about 10 departments in six buildings around town. Four of them are near the ocean. This one’s built out on the water on pilings. Ketchikan is where all the cruise ships come so from spring to September it can get really touristy downtown. Too bad the tourists don’t buy furniture. Chris Parks, General Manager Tongass Trading Company, Ketchikan, Alaska


Share your old photograph and memory by contacting Robert Bell at 916.757.1169 or rbell@nahfa.org


APRIL | 2016



High Point Market | April 1-20, 2016 Plaza Suites, 1st Floor NAHFA Retailer Resource Center

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RetailerNOW April 2016  

RetailerNOW April 2016