• Jennifer Bringle
  • Thomas Russell

Farewell to Stanley's Young America furniture line

Retailers, licensing partners dealing with brand's departure

HIGH POINT — Stanley Furniture's announcement this week that it is shuttering its Young America youth line has left many — from retailers to licensing partners — wondering what's next.

Stanley CEO Glenn Prillaman said the company’s priority now is assisting retailers in transitioning the brand from their stores.

“We work really hard with the retailer to make sure we’re helping them exit the Young America business as painlessly as possible,” he said. “We owe that to them and we’re going to fulfill that obligation.”

Prillaman said that was one reason the company announced its Young America exit before the start of the High Point Market.

“Our earnings release was scheduled for April 16,” he said. “So imagine you were a customer and you came to market — we knew we didn’t have a future, but we didn’t tell you. You get back home and a week later, we tell you we’re not moving forward with Young America. That wouldn’t be very customer-friendly. We wanted them to be able to have some time to think through this prior to market, then come to market and be able to find a replacement for the floor space that we occupy.”

Stanley will take orders on Young America until April 28. Once those orders are fulfilled, the factory in Robbinsville, N.C., will close.

In addition to the Young America line, the company had licensing agreements with several parties, including Pottery Barn, the juvenile buying group Brixy and Mod Mom Furniture creator Kiersten Hathcock.

“We’ve communicated with Brixy — in the timing of the decision, we wanted to make sure we treated them as fairly as possible, too,” said Prillaman. “We didn’t want to put them in a position where they had received floor samples and spent lots of money on photography prior to the decision.”

Brixy Executive Director Jill Cartwright said the group has several other manufacturers who are interested in partnering on the furniture venture, which they still plan to pursue.

Pottery Barn sells the Stanley-produced Harper and Shelby children’s and teen collections through its PB Teen division. Young America will fulfill orders for Pottery Barn through April 28, but will no longer produce furniture for the brand after that, Prillaman said.

Young America’s relationship with Mod Mom Furniture owner Kiersten Hathcock also will end. Hathcock came on board earlier this year as a spokesperson for the brand, with plans to eventually produce a Mod Mom furniture line with Young America. Hathcock, who came to High Point for market, has several meetings lined up with other interested parties.

“For me it just means that I’m talking to other manufacturers for licensing and seeing where that goes,” she said. “I’m a person who feels that when one door closes, another one opens. I feel pretty good because as soon as the news hit, I was getting calls from people who were interested in working with me.”

Prillaman expressed his regret that these relationships with retailers and licensing partners will have to end, but said he hopes the company’s swift decision will help retailers and partners move forward quickly.

Retailers interviewed for this story said they were disappointed at the news.

“I am very sad that Young America couldn’t make it,” said Libby Payne, youth gallery manager at Top 100 store Furnitureland South in Jamestown, N.C. “It takes time to build a brand and a reputation like they had with Young America. They have accomplished so much over the years. They are an icon in the juvenile world and their exit is certainly going to leave a void in the youth furniture business. They will be sorely missed.”

How well retailers adjust depends largely on how much of the product they carried. Mory Moshtaghi, owner of youth furniture specialist Children’s Land in San Diego, has sold the line about 10 years and today devotes about 2,000 square feet of his 9,000-square-foot showroom to Young America.

But he said he is prepared to deal with the loss of the line by looking to other suppliers in the youth furniture segment.

“It is unfortunate, but we just have to go on with our lives and our business,” he said. “Otherwise, it will cause us to fall behind. We have to just pick up our other lines and move forward.”

He added that he is disappointed for the company’s workers, who put in a lot of hard work to keep the line going. About 400 employees at the Robbinsville plant are facing layoffs.

“I feel sorry for the people that will be laid off,” Moshtagi said. “(Young America) tried very hard to bring jobs into the U.S. and have been working days and nights to do that, but unfortunately, there hasn’t been that much support for them from consumers.”

Another retailer said the news did not come as a huge surprise.

“We suspected a little of it,” said Ryan Councill, project manager for Tyson Furniture Co. in Black Mountain, N.C. “We ran into some issues with (shipment) delays and quality and we knew they could only do it for so long.”

“It has dwindled for us because of the quality issues and timing delays in getting it,” he added, noting that on-time deliveries are important, particularly with cribs. “Consumers will only wait so long for youth furniture. If it doesn’t get here in time for the child to arrive, you are pretty much shot.”

Thomas Russell contributed to this story.

Thomas RussellThomas Russell | Associate Editor, Furniture Today

I'm Tom Russell and have worked at Furniture/Today since August 2003. Since then, I have covered the international side of the business from a logistics and sourcing standpoint. Since then, I also have visited several furniture trade shows and manufacturing plants in Asia, which has helped me gain perspective about the industry in that part of the world. As I continue covering the import side of the business, I look forward to building on that knowledge base through conversations with industry officials and future overseas plant tours. From time to time, I will file news and other industry perspectives online and, as always, welcome your response to these Web postings.

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