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South Florida serves up some delightful retailers
This year has been a tough one, even for an optimist like me. Fortunately, I just returned from the outstanding Furniture/Today Leadership Conference in Naples, Fla. Not only were the speakers and topics very insightful, I had the opportunity to visit some great furniture stores.
As I have stated often, I love the furniture retail environment in southern Florida and believe it to be the best in the U.S. because of the strength of the furniture chains there. Major local chains like El Dorado, Badcock, City and others combined with the national single-source stores, local specialty stores and a top quality design community has made southern Florida special.
This trip I focused on some stores targeting the wealthier consumer. Both the Norris and Baer's stores had strong brands and a talented staff. Galleries from Lexington, Bernhardt, Century, Natuzzi and others were well displayed in the Baer's store. There was some brand overlap with the Norris store, but it offered others, some hitting higher price points.
Traditions, a smaller store in the heart of Naples, shows how even a 5,000-square-foot store can still be well displayed, offer top brands and bring full service using all the tools available to stores today.
The new Clive Daniel Home store was quite the contrast in that it was very large at 55,000 square feet but still featured not only many of the high-end brands but many smaller, more specialized sources mixed eclectically. Clive Daniel is truly a family business with former Robb & Stucky head, Clive Lubner, and his son and daughter.
In some ways, the Clive Daniel Home store may prove to be the prototype store of the future for our industry. Within the store are licensed departments selling enough different products that it offers a whole-home, one-stop shop for premium home-related merchandise.
The licensed departments offer high-end floor coverings, kitchen cabinets and appliances, advanced high-tech bathrooms, outdoor cooking, premium consumer electronics, linens, bath and body, wine and even some jewelry and personal accessories like pocketbooks. Home security systems and other modern home controls are also offered. The shoppers in the store clearly found the breadth of this concept appealing.
It was fun seeing so many home furnishings well displayed and elegantly accessorized in all of the stores I visited. Lacking the cold weather and snow we "enjoy" further north, the seasonal displays were beautiful and extensive. But the real attraction was the excellent array of decorative accents, accessories and details that showed off the furniture so well.
I feel reinvigorated seeing these exciting, colorful stores. Thank you for your hospitality and to Furniture/Today for a great conference.