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Lexington goes outdoors

An artist’s renderingAn artist’s rendering shows how the new Tommy Bahama Island Café will look when the High Point Market opens.
HIGH POINT - As it charges into the outdoor furniture category with its Tommy Bahama Outdoor Living line, Lexington Home Brands plans on serving dealers a host of savvy design ideas at the High Point Market in a new venue called the Tommy Bahama Island Café.
     Lexington has leased the former Pecaso lighting showroom, in a high profile downtown location at the corner of Commerce and Wrenn, to transform it into the Tommy Bahama oasis. It will include a permanent outdoor living venue on the property adjacent to the building.
     During market, the café will provide buyers with an opportunity to sample a variety of soft drinks and smoothies and to have their golf swings evaluated by a PGA simulator and a golf pro who will be on site at the café
     "The outdoor category is experiencing a renaissance at the moment," said Norman Hamilton, publisher of Casual Living Magazine, a sister publication to Furniture/Today. "Consumers are investing heavily in outdoor living spaces, creating literal extensions of their indoor décor with full amenities.
     "This represents a huge opportunity for indoor retailers to leverage their existing consumer relationships to include a high-growth category of business that is extremely profitable. It is a natural extension that makes total sense, and buyers will get an appreciation of its true potential at market," Hamilton said.
     Since securing the Tommy Bahama indoor furniture license a decade ago, Lexington says it has built the brand into the industry's most recognized name in the casual living segment.
     The brand launch of Tommy Bahama Outdoor Living at last month's casual furniture show in Chicago included eight lifestyle collections with more than 160 SKUs, including deep seating and sectionals, outdoor dining, bistro tables, bars, fire pits and occasional tables. The cover assortment included 175 Sunbrella fabrics with correlating trims, and a custom in-store merchandising program.
     "I can't think of a more powerful way to launch a marquee brand like Tommy Bahama Outdoor Living than by creating a high-impact lifestyle venue on the most visible and heavily trafficked corner in downtown High Point," said Phil Haney, president and CEO of Lexington Home Brands. "We love unconventional marketing and recognize that our retailers are looking for leadership in establishing an emotional connection with consumers through lifestyle branding. Tommy Bahama dominates the category of refined casual living and this venue will allow us to showcase that brand strength while hopefully empowering retailers to do the same."
     The new Tommy Bahama Island Café is adjacent to Lexington's downtown Reception Studio at 116 E. Commerce St. That building, leased and renovated in 2009, serves as a concierge lounge, facilitating private transportation to and from the company's 100,000-square-foot showroom on National Highway, and also giving dealers a preview of Lexington's new market introductions.
     Company officials said the corner of Commerce and Wrenn is a strategic location because it's close to the market transportation terminal and sits in front of the loading area where shuttles pick up and drop off buyers.
     "We love the dynamic of downtown High Point," said Haney. "But the breadth of our product line requires a large showroom presentation - particularly with the recent acquisitions of Sligh and Tommy Bahama Outdoor Living. We also enjoy taking advantage of our corporate campus, offering dealers ample parking, indoor and outdoor dining, multiple bars for evening entertainment and a relaxed atmosphere. Now, with our Reception Studio and the Tommy Bahama Island Café at the nexus of market activity downtown, we will have the best of both worlds."
     While the downtown café will accommodate a few key settings from the Tommy Bahama Outdoor Living program, the complete presentation in the main showroom will exceed 15,000 square feet.
     Lexington said it is doing extensive remodeling in the main facility to show retailers how to effectively transition displays from indoor to outdoor presentations. This is a concept that traditional retailers will need to embrace in order to connect with consumers looking for a seamless transition from indoor to outdoor living, officials said.
     "The engine driving growth in the outdoor living category has been the amazing advances in fabric technology and custom finishes," said Casual Living's Hamilton. "Outdoor fabrics today boast the same exceptional hand, fashionable colors and sophisticated designs as indoor fabrics. Outdoor has become indoor - with the performance advantages as a huge additional benefit. Trims and fringes add further to the consumer's ability to customize.
     "The Tommy Bahama Outdoor Living program introduced in Chicago took outdoor finishing to an entirely different level. To even the trained eye, one cannot tell the difference between their outdoor finish on aluminum and a furniture finish on wood. The same can be said for the designs. They are extraordinary," he said.

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