• Susan Dickenson

Retail Profile: Peace, Love & Decorating, Duluth, Ga.

Peace, Love & Decorating, a retail operation based in Duluth, Ga., came to life 12 years ago when friends Jana ContardiPLD1 and Jennifer Cook started an interior design business. As the economy began to shift, so did their business strategy. In the fall of 2009, they added an e-commerce site, selling home accents, bedding, jewelry, women's fashion accessories and boutique gifts. A year and a half ago, they opened a brick-and-mortar store in the historic section of downtown Duluth.

Today, in addition to merchandising a curated selection of products across a wide range of categories for the store and web, Contardi, Cook and their staff are diligently and effectively promoting their products and services on several social media platforms. The different facets of the business are unified with a consistent branding message rendered in Old World type and scrolling in blue and linen, reflective of the store's "vintage chic" lifestyle.

The name of their business, Peace, Love & Decorating was selected to reflect Contardi and Cook's friendship and the business journey that developed as a result of their shared values, a common set of principles by which they live and operate in their individual lives, and a passion for design.

Describe your store: Our store is located on Main Street, in the historic section of PLD2downtown Duluth, just 30 minutes from downtown Atlanta. We have approximately 3,300 square feet of retail space. Our building is over 100 years old and has much history associated with it. We completed a huge renovation prior to opening to restore much of the building's original character, such as the exposed brick walls and the original ceiling rafters.

We have always bought very wide for our business and we carry a large range of products. We tend to focus on lines and products we love and are passionate about, and are always editing and adjusting our product mix. Our home décor includes all types of lighting, furniture (both case goods and upholstery), wall décor, a large selection of wall clocks and mirrors, and tabletop. We carry a small selection of rugs on our website, but most of the rugs we do are custom area rugs for our design clients. We also carry products for entertaining, luxury bedding, books, holiday, bath and body, jewelry, women's fashion and lifestyle, and unique gifts for all occasions

When we are merchandising and creating displays, we really try to capture the personality of a line or setting for the products. We often use antiques or vintage finds in our displays, but if we cannot find what we want, we make a display that fulfills our vision.

How much of your business is retail, how much is interior design? Approximately 75% is retail, and the remainingPLD3 25% comes from design projects.

What makes you different from the competition? There are so many things. Our special attention to the lines we buy and unique merchandising are very important, but our commitment to our customers is what truly sets us apart. We want each and every customer to feel like we are buying just for them, and for each customer to leave our store or our website feeling like they received the very best customer attention possible. There are so many times a customer will come into our store and say, "I just want to live here."

Describe your average customer: We are fortunate to have a wide range of customers, but if we had to define our average customer, we would have to say stylish and trendy women between 30 and 50 years old. Our customer tends to be a boutique shopper that is very brand-conscious. She's looking for unique items not yet seen at department stores and furniture retail chains.

About what percentage of your merchandise are home accents? About 60% is home accents and lighting.

Susan DickensonSusan Dickenson | Editor in Chief

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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