• Clint Engel

Doerr sets 2nd Louisiana showroom

Retailer bringing top of lines to Covington, La.

shane mutterMutter
NEW ORLEANS — For the first time in its nearly 80-year history, the upscale Doerr Furniture is expanding its full-line furniture business with a second area location.

The fourth-generation, mid-priced to high-end retailer will enter what’s called the Northshore with an 11,000-square-foot leased space in Covington, La. Located on U.S. Highway 190, the showroom will be less than half the size of its approximately 28,000-square-foot flagship store just outside the French Quarter in New Orleans but will pull from a more affluent consumer base that meshes well with its upscale assortment.

Designed by Martin Roberts Design, the store will soft open in December with a grand opening event slated for after the first of the year, said Shane Mutter, president, CEO and fourth-generation operator.

Even though the population is less than half that on the south side of Lake Pontchartrain, “there is a need for higher quality products, and we feel we fit the need,” he said.

doerr night renderingThe 11,000-square-foot Doerr Furniture is slated to open in Covington, La., late this year.
Because of the size disparity between the two showrooms, Doerr has been even more selective in what it plans to display, choosing to eliminate some brands and focus on the lines that fit the market best.

“Even some of our larger vendors, we’ve had to scale back their percentage of (floor space),” Mutter said. “Ultimately, we’re bringing a higher level of goods to the Northshore.”

Fabric sofas, for instance, typically start at about $899 at the existing store but will likely start in the $1,299 to $1,499 price point range in Covington. And while the special order house will top out at about $5,000 with brands such as Carolina Leather and Century — the same as in the exiting store — the new store will carry more at the higher end, he said.

Other long-time supplier partners coming to Covington include Massoud, Flexsteel, Palliser, King Hickory, Four Seasons, Stickley, Fine Furniture Design, Hooker, Vaughan-Bassett, Daniels Amish, Palettes by Winesburg and bedding brands Shifman and Sealy Posturepedic.

Doerr also is carving out space for a more contemporary home furnishings area featuring Stressless and German upholstery brand Himolla, which will be new for both stores.

Roughly 1,500 square feet of space will be dedicated to a design center featuring fabric swatch walls from the retailer’s various supplier partners and a work area with flat screen televisions and tables where clients can work with the Doerr’s in-house designer team.

Mutter described the store interior design as open and airy, a warm atmosphere with lots of color and with touches of the industrial look of the flagship showroom.

He declined to disclose projected sales or the retailer’s investment in the new store.

“My true investment is in the people we’ve hired who are now in training,” Mutter said. “We’re allowing our management team roughly three months to train this staff (of seven people) so when the doors open, our customers will have an experience — even though it’s a new staff — that’s as if these people had been working for my family for 10 years.”

The majority of Doerr’s business comes from special order, and Mutter said he anticipates the percentage will be even greater at the new store. Both locations will be serviced by the retailer’s roughly 30,000-square-foot distribution center in New Orleans near its existing store.

Among the other fourth-generation family members working at Doer are Brett Mutter, in charge of operations and logistics; Brett’s wife Jamie Mutter, director of design services; and Brett’s younger brother Ross Mutter, who also works in operations in warehouse and delivery.

Shane Mutter credited Martin Roberts for the store design, but also praised Doerr Senior Director of Merchandising Amy Freese, who was “instrumental in the development of the layout, the design, the buying, the colors and the selection for the store,” he said.

In addition to the main business, Doerr also operates a 10-store chain of bedding specialty stores in the New Orleans area.

Clint EngelClint Engel | Senior Retail Editor, Furniture Today
cengel@furnituretoday.com

Please feel free to email or call me with all of your retail news and tips, including expansion news, successful merchandising and marketing strategies and anything else you would like to see covered by Furniture/Today.  Contact me directly at cengel@furnituretoday.com or 336-605-1129.

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