Retail Profile: Peace, Love & Decorating, Duluth, Ga.
September 27, 2013,
Peace, Love & Decorating, a retail operation based in Duluth, Ga., came to life 12 years ago when friends Jana Contardi 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.
Describe your store: Our store is located on Main Street, in the historic section of downtown 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 remaining 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.
Key vendors: Aidan Gray, Christopher Radko, Currey & Company, Gabby Home, Lazy Bones, Shelley Kyle, Spode, Shannon Koszyk, Amity Home, Noir, Highland House, Vanguard, Go Home, Bella Notte, Creative Co-Op, Eastern Accents, IMM Living, Park Hill Collection, Votivo, Dovetail, Regina-Andrew Design, Crosby & Taylor, Ditz Designs by Hen House
What's hot? In our market, eclectic style and distressed finishes mixed with reclaimed materials continue to be popular. Our store and our customer tend to gravitate toward warm neutrals mixed with a spa palette and pops of color for accents. Our customer comes to Peace, Love & Decorating for classic, timeless lines that can be collected over time such as Spode China or Christopher Radko ornaments and for affordable luxury lines such as Lazy Bones organic bedding.
How do you reach your customer? Our website, all types of social media, weekly press releases and local events.
What's the best in-store event you've ever hosted? Last fall, we hosted a charity event in our store showcasing our line of faux furs, Donna Salyer's Fabulous Furs. This fall we are repeating this event and bringing in the entire line of faux furs for our customers to preview and special order. We are also expanding our guest list to include a larger area of metropolitan Atlanta.
Size of staff: Seven
Tradeshows/markets you shop: We primarily focus on the Atlanta and High Point markets, but over the years we have developed relationships with vendors all around the country as well as Canada and Australia.
Are you experimenting with any new technologies? We currently have plans in the works to make iPads available to our customers while shopping so they may access our online store while browsing in our brick-and-mortar store. We have also recently upgraded our security system to allow us to view any area in the store remotely.
What are your hopes and plans for the next 12 months? Our hope is to maintain our growth rate and manage the growth efficiently. Our plans include expanding our women's apparel with new lines, and moving all of our website order fulfillment and website development to a new facility to accommodate our continuing growth. And we are anticipating a very busy fall and holiday season.
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