Retailers make adjustments to keep Deen line
Thomas Russell -- Furniture Today, September 2, 2013
HIGH POINT - Some businesses have found a simple solution regarding Paula Deen licensed products following her public statements that she has used racial slurs in the past: They simply dropped the lines.
For some furniture retailers, it hasn't been that simple. That's because the furniture remains among their top sellers.
"As far as licensed furniture collections go, the number one line for us in the last several years has been Paula Deen," said Joe Tyson, president of Tyson Furniture in Black Mountain, N.C.
Tyson said Deen hasn't visited the store, but has been a good spokesperson for the line in the past, having appeared in TV ads that mention the store's name.
But since the controversy arose earlier this summer, the store has pulled the TV ads and also has reduced some point of purchase signage in the stores. The product is still tagged as Paula Deen, but it's just not promoted as heavily in the store or on the air as before, Tyson said.
"We are just waiting for the dust to settle," he said, noting that the halting of TV ads has slowed sales of the line. "I still have the product in my store - I just haven't advertised it."
Other retailers said they, too, still carry the line, which continues to perform well. However, they are promoting it less.
"We obviously have been a big Paula Deen dealer and continue to carry the brand," said Dave Koehler, CEO of Laurel, Del.-based Johnny Janosik.
However, he said the store has pulled back on its TV ads and also has reduced some signage in the store for the line.
At Houston-based Star Furniture, the Paula Deen line also has been a strong performer. But so far, the retailer hasn't had to make many changes in terms of how it is displayed. That's because the retailer doesn't tend to place a lot of signage with any brands, licensed or non-licensed.
"On our floor, it is not going to look like any other product," said Alan Kramer, vice president, noting that most product is still tagged so the salesperson can tell the consumer what line it's from. "It is nothing that will make a major statement."