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Jenny Heinzen York

Stepping It Up

December 21, 2011

It seems like the retailers and vendors in this industry are really stepping things up lately.
And on the subject of "stepping it up," I had a really interesting conversation with Ridvan Tatargil, owner of Eastern Accents, during the October High Point Market.
His company produces and sells high-end top-of-bed collections, among other luxury soft goods.
He said that he sees a disconnect on the retail floors at furniture stores ... there are separate buying teams for the furniture and accessories now - and there's no overall merchandising system in place to help move both products off the floor, because they aren't working together.
I asked him how to get a furniture store to get over the disconnect of charging, say, $799 for a queen bed, and nearly the same for the top-of-bed. He said that furniture stores are in the business to sell furniture - so if their (inexpensive) beds look fantastic because they are dressed in (expensive) bedding, more beds will sell.
He cited the model home example, and said that the most effective builders used high-end furniture and accessories to decorate the model homes (even the lower-end ones), because it made the whole thing look better.
He also said that when a buyer comes to a furniture store and touches a bed, she doesn't touch the actual furniture first, she goes straight for the bedding. And yeah, I can't argue with that. I'm definitely a toucher when it comes to soft goods. And the bedding may very likely be what brings me over to a particular collection to start with.
I think these are really interesting points that he made. Are you in the business to sell accessories or to sell more furniture? And are you too hung up on your price points being parallel? If you stepped up your accessory merchandising, would you then step up your sales of the bigger items? And even if you sold less of the accessories, would your revenue/margins stay about the same because you are selling more expensive products?
Something to think about, I would say. It was an eye-opener for me, and I wanted to share his thoughts with all of you. I would love to hear your feedback, and we will look into this subject in a future issue on a more in-depth level.