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Thomas Russell

High-end @Bograd's tries smaller store, fewer vendors

RIVERDALE, N.J. - Bograd's has a new name, a new format and a new strategy it believes will translate into a more stable business model for high-end retail in the future.

Mark BogradMark Bograd

     The former Bograd's Fine Furniture is now called @Bograd's and is operating in a smaller footprint with fewer suppliers it believes can address the needs of today's consumers, according to President Mark Bograd.
     Due to difficult business conditions, the company originally planned to sell its 30,000-square-foot building here in Riverdale in 2012. But not only has it not been able to sell the real estate, it found continued interest and support from customers in its market.
     "Our customer base lamented the fact we were closing," said Bograd. "They had no place to buy nice furniture."
     Those factors convinced the retailer it was time to pursue a new strategy.
     Now it plans to operate in about 10,000 to 15,000 square feet in its store here, about half of its original floor space, Bograd said. It also will show product from fewer core vendors, roughly a dozen compared with as many as 50 suppliers previously.
     Bograd said that its experience in high end retail showed that based on inventory costs, it was difficult to operate successfully with so many vendors. The additional floor space also created some redundancies in the product mix, he said.
     "We thought there was an opportunity to do something differently and focus on fewer suppliers and give them better exposure so they can take advantage of the New York (metropolitan) market," he said. "We also wanted to handle the business in a way that is much more manageable so we can sustain ourselves."
     Among @Bograd's core vendors are Abner Henry, Theodore Alexander, Maria Yee, Fine Furniture Design, Tomlinson, Armando Rho Furniture, Hancock & Moore, Tomlinson/Erwin Lambeth and Taylor King.
     Space devoted to each line will vary, but footprints will likely range from a few hundred square feet to as much as 2,000. Bograd said the store will utilize this space in a way that shows product that is representative of the core vendors' lines. This, in turn, is expected to pique consumer interest in those vendors so they can shop their lines more extensively in the future.
     "The reality is that in order for this business to succeed, we have to be pretty focused and you have to realize that carrying product has to make sense for both the retailer and the manufacturer," Bograd said, adding, "Being smaller makes it easier to be flexible in terms of making adjustments to your product mix. I feel we are able, at this point, to be a little more nimble than we were, and I think that's a good thing."
     He added that an additional 10,000 square feet of space that is part of the Riverdale location will be available for warehousing, clearance sales and other special events.
     The store remains open and has already accepted some of the new merchandise. The balance of the product is expected to arrive in late summer and fall.
     "Our commitment to quality hasn't changed, but we are looking for value where we can find it," Bograd said in a late July letter e-mailed to consumers in its marketplace.
     Joe Bograd, Marcks father, will continue to serve as CEO of the company, but Mark Bograd will handle much of the day to day operations.
     "That's great news," said Del Starnes, president and chief operating officer of upholstery manufacturer Taylor King, of Bograd's new strategy. "It is my first chance to do some meaningful business with them, which I am excited about."
     Based on the opportunities he sees at the high end, he said he also is pleased to hear a retailer like Bograd's is getting back into the business versus just liquidating.
     "Our business has had great growth this year, and we look forward to supporting them in this," Starnes said. "We look forward to doing a meaningful business with Mark and Joe."

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