• Susan Dickenson

Home Accents Today announces 2011 Retail Stars

EACH MARCH, WE BEGIN PROMOTING our 50 Retail Stars list, inviting shop owners, consumers, manufacturers and sales reps to submit nominations for this annual feature. This year, more manufacturer's reps than ever took the time to send their short lists of favorites - independent retailers of home accents that really made an impression with their creative merchandising, community involvement and/or out-of-the-box business ideas. We hope that trend will continue.(Click here for the full report.)

We also hope to keep adding outstanding stores like this year's picks to our 50 Retail Stars list, which first ran in 2005 and continues thanks to sponsorship by Americasmart Atlanta.

A retailer can only be named a Retail Star once, which means each May we get to learn about 50 stellar stores and how they're staying on top of their game. It's also fun to look at the group as a whole to see how it compares to Retail Stars of prior years.

Sometimes, it reveals some interesting numbers. For example, the collective staffs of our 2011 Retail Stars total 494 employees, designers and sales associates, who are selling in a total space of 430,140 square feet. That's significantly less than 2010's 3,600 staffers in a total selling space of 1.9 million square feet, which was way down space-wise from 2009's 3,400 staffers in a total space of 2.6 million square feet.

This space tightening and staff trimming doesn't appear to be hurting sales, though. TwentyHAT Retail 
Stars 2011-five stores on this year's list rang up $1 million or more in annual sales (compared to 19 in 2010 and 18 in 2009), and nine of those stores reported annual sales in excess of $3 million (compared to eight stores in 2010 and 11 in 2009).

This year's list is a little older than last year's, with 30 stores open at least a decade, 18 of those open for at least 20 years, and 11 stores open at least 30. Texas had the most stores on the list, seven, followed by Ohio with four and three each from Florida, Indiana, New Jersey and Michigan.

Individually, each store is uniquely different in style, product offering, price range, customer base, marketing, merchandising and operations. But there are a few strategies that many of them share, things that have boosted business or helped them survive a tumultuous couple of years - like the addition of design services, or hosting elaborate over-the-top holiday events in December, or fueling their customers with goodies from inhouse wine bars, coffee bars, pastry boards and even doggie bars.

A lot of them are building loyalty by having customers bring in room photos for design makeovers and advice. Cross-merchandising with new product categories is helping, as are email campaigns. And they're promoting it all using social media - 43 are active on Facebook - with several reporting a direct correlation between wall posts and sales.

Our final list was compiled and narrowed down by Home Accents Today's research analysts and editors.

"The 2011 Retail Stars represent some of the best independent stores in the country," said Jenny Heinzen York, editor in chief. "In a harsh economic climate where mere survival has equaled success for many, this year's Stars have faced down the challenges with innovation, creativity and fortitude. We salute these inspiring entrepreneurs, and as always, encourage everyone to support their own local businesses."

THE 2011 RETAIL STARS ARE:

A Dodson's, Suffolk, Va.
Absolutely Fabulous Unique Gifts and Decor, Huntington Beach, Calif.
Accent Interiors, Wichita, Kan.
Archipelago at Home, Cold Spring, N.Y.
Armadillo, Ltd., Avalon, N.J.
Black-eyed Susan, Holicong, Pa.
Boat's Home Furnishings, Pella, Iowa
Bronson Design Studio, Montclair, N.J.
Brown's Interior Design, Boca Raton and Jupiter, Fla.
Bungalow, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Casual Designs Furniture, Selbyville, Del. and Berlin, Md.
Charley & Bella's, Marshall, Texas
Claire Murray, Nantucket, Mass.
Collectic Home, Austin, Texas
Corinth Furniture Barn, Corinth, Miss.
Creekside Collections, Mansfield, Texas
Darrons Interiors, Columbus, Ohio
Design House, Houston, Texas
Duck Duck Goose, Dacula, Ga.
Elegant Details, Mill Creek, Wash.
Gardenviews, Northville, Mich.
GHD Interiors, Jenks, Okla.
Hipster Home, Phoenixville, Pa.
Jak Home, San Francisco, Calif.
Light by Design, San Antonio, Texas
Lusso, St. Louis, Mo.
M. Frederick, Gladstone, N.J.
Magnolia, Abingdon, Va.
Mary & Martha Home Accents, Highland, Ind.
Nandina Home & Design, Aiken, S.C. and Atlanta, Ga.
Nathan Nichols & Co., Baileys Harbor, Wis.
Old Bryan Marketplace, Bryan, Texas
Paysage, Cleveland Heights, Ohio and Wilmington, N.C.
Peddler's Wagon, Eustis, Fla.
Red Door Interiors, Huntsville, Ala.
Redefined Home Boutique, Atlanta, Ga.
Reindeer Ranch, Cody, Wyo.
Rustic Hutch, Fort Wayne, Ind.
Sklar Furnishings, Boca Raton, Fla.
Something Different Gallery, Cleveland, Ohio
Southwest Trading Co., Spruce Pine, N.C.
STUFF, Kansas City, Mo.
The Arrangement, Dallas and Houston, Texas
The Cottage, Concord, Mass.
The Garden Room, Bellingham, Wash.
The Village Shoppes, New Carlisle, Ind.
United House Wrecking, Stamford, Conn.
White Furniture, Wyandotte, Mich.
Wine & Design, Cleveland, Ohio
Your Nesting Place, Milford, Mich.

A summary of each store's operations accompanies the listing in the published article, which can be found in the May issue, or purchased for download from our research department at http://furnituretodaystore.stores.yahoo.net/hoactop50res.html.

Home Accents Today compiled this report by surveying independent retailers, researching business newspaper archives and speaking with industry vendors. Information was gathered, compiled and analyzed by Retail Editor Susan Dickenson, Research Director Dana French and Database and Web Administrator Cynthia Myers.

 

Susan DickensonSusan Dickenson | Editor in Chief
sdickenson@homeaccentstoday.com

Susan Dickenson is the editor in chief of Home Accents Today, where she has spent more than a decade covering trending topics, best practices and news items pertaining to the manufacturing, retail and interior design segments of the home furnishings industry. A graduate of UNC, Dickenson spent 15 years in the Washington, D.C., area, writing and researching in both the public and private sector. After relocating to her native North Carolina in 2003, she freelanced as a writer of general interest, business, garden and home items for local and national publications before joining Home Accents Today in 2006 as retail editor.

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