Emerald venturing outdoors
Ray Allegrezza -- Furniture Today, July 22, 2013
LAS VEGAS - Furniture and bedding source Emerald Home Furnishings is hoping for an inside track to the outdoor room.
At next week's Las Vegas Market, it will introduce 21 outdoor groupings and related accessories in a satellite showroom here in World Market Center space B-1262.
Earlier this month, the company previewed the lineup to a dozen key accounts at its showroom in High Point's Center Point building. In attendance were representatives from Art Van Furniture, Fortunoff Backyard Store, and Johnny Janosik World of Furniture, Nebraska Furniture Mart, Pacific Patio and others.
Offered under the umbrella of Emerald Outdoor Furniture, the comprehensive assortment includes motion, dining, deep seating, fire pits, tables, accessories and pillows.
While the outdoor furniture will be offered primarily as a container-only program, the company said it will also back up bestselling items in its 200,000-square foot warehouse in Tacoma, Wash.
The strategy for the new goods, which will range in retail from $799 for a table and five and top out at $3,499 for a seven-piece set, is to offer upscale, stylish designs and affordable prices.
"We see a big gap between the specialty stores that offer opulent looks and high prices and the mass merchants, that sell lower priced goods and limited selections," said Emerald President David Beckmann. "Our goal is to fill that gap with great selection, great designs and affordable prices."
Beckmann said the lineup, which is ready to ship now, features detailed casting, chat height fire pits, mixed media goods, extensive woven options and performance fabrics from Sunbrella and other non branded performance fabric suppliers.
"We realize this is a growth category and so do many of our current customers who encouraged us to add outdoor furniture to our assortment," Beckmann said, adding, "We see this as a true win-win because it gives us a bigger footprint with our customers and since we've done the product development and sourcing, they don't have add new vendors in order to participate in this exciting segment of the business."
To further minimize risk for retailers, especially those new to the category, Emerald collaborated with brothers Gary and Lyle Ecoff, both veteran retailers with expertise in the outdoor segment.
Previously, Gary was the founder and president of Florida- based Carl's Patio. Lyle had been vice president of Carl's Patio and also had been president of the original Robb & Stucky's outdoor furniture division.
The two traveled throughout Asia, identifying the best factories and then working with each factory to develop the products for the launch.
"We began in March, spending hours upon hours finding out which factory was best at cast, which was best making woven goods, which one was best making sling products and so on," said Gary Ecoff. "One we had done that, we told them what we wanted and that it had to be done in time for the Vegas market. Initially they said it wasn't possible, but by working long days and nights, we got it done and done perfectly."
Based on reactions from the retailer who previewed the launch in High Point, Ecoff was right.
Irv Blumkin, CEO of Top 100 Nebraska Furniture Mart, headquartered in Omaha, said, "This was a great effort. The styling is wonderful and the furniture represents very strong values."
David Koehler, CEO of Laurel, Del.-based Johnny Janosik, was equally impressed. "I found the furniture to offer great materials and workmanship, outstanding styling and very good values."
David Marks, manager of Pacific Patio Furniture in Agoura Hills, Calif, was also impressed with the high perceived value of the introductions. "These collections are perfect in that they offer particularly strong values," he said.
Marks, who was looking to shore up his assortment of what he described as his "medium-priced outdoor furniture," said, "The looks here are amazing. The designs are great and everything I've seen is priced right ... this is a winner."
Other retailers gave the introductions high marks blending innovative designs with proven features found in residential furniture such as reclining mechanisms, butterfly leaves, built-in storage and more.
A group called Maxx offers motion seating while another collection, Avignon, brings wing back designs to outdoor furniture. A third group, Primera, offers a dining table with dual butterfly leafs.
"We are locked, loaded and ready to go," said Gary Ecoff.