Big plans for Big Lots


Broyhill-branded accent pieces coordinate with Broyhill furniture on the floor.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – While Big Lots has made a big push in furniture in recent years — it’s the owner of the venerated Broyhill furniture brand — it’s also paid just as much attention to the home décor side of the business.

In fact, officials say in the home arena, accessories and décor are key for the overall category’s success.

“Home décor, for the most part, is some of the most productive space in the entire organization from a sales and margin standpoint. It drives a lot of basket-building opportunities for us,” said Kevin Kuehl, senior vice president and general merchandise manager for home and apparel. “When you think of big outdoor patio collections or furniture collections, the home décor categories round out what that assortment looks like and drives a lot of incremental business as customers decorate around their furniture.

“It is an incremental traffic driver and when she shops for furniture, about 70% of the time, she includes a decorative category in her basket. We’re finding a really strong attachment to our furniture and patio purchases.”

Kuehl said Big Lots divides home décor into two distinct categories: seasonal and everyday, and both are critical. In the everyday assortment, it includes rugs, candles, tabletop, decorative pillows, wall art and window coverings.

Seasonal includes several of these but goes a little further afield. “We heavily penetrate into decorative pillows, accent rugs, doormats and floor coverings and then the seasonal part gets into larger-scale candle holders, decorative holiday-specific items that would round out decorating a Christmas tree or something like that,” Kuehl said.

And while each segment and product category is important on its own, when combined, the significance of accents and décor shows.

“Individually, each of those categories is critically important to the whole for a lot of different reasons. If you look at them individually, they’re a significant piece of the business,” Kuehl said. “Collectively, it’s one-third of home. We think of them in terms of scale and how they deliver productivity to the company.”

Take Broyhill, for instance. In an earlier conversation with sister publication Furniture Today, Kuehl said Big Lots officials expect it to generate $1 billion in business as early as next year. And while furniture is a big part of that dollar amount, he told Home Accents Today that accents and accessories have their place in that equation.

“Our customers engage in the brand in the décor parts of the business, including the soft home categories we have. We have bedding and bath, window coverings in soft home from Broyhill. We have rugs, tabletop décor,” Kuehl said. “We work with our furniture team to have these products that coordinate with the furniture. Broyhill is an important brand across all our home categories. We’ve even utilized Broyhill in holiday seasonal.”

Broyhill makes up Big Lots’ better and best products in the value proposition while good and some better products can be found in its Real Living brand. Products in each brand are merchandised by category and by brand, as well as in vignettes.

“If you think area rugs, we keep the area rugs together and separate them by brands, Real Living and Broyhill brands. We think good-better-best,” Kuehl said. “(We do) room settings as well. We’re working in all of these collections, each has in-store marketing team POS signage to enhance our brands and classification. Broyhill has really opened up the opportunity to show the better and best assortments we have on the floor.”

Having a solid mix of good-better-best allows Big Lots to reach consumers who are looking for products in any quality level.

“Big Lots is really proud of the value proposition we put on the floor every day. Our goal is to provide our customers a great value and savings every day,” Kuehl said. “When we think of promotion, we think not only of a great priced assortment, we give our customer an unbelievable value she wouldn’t find elsewhere in the marketplace. We focus on offering a great value every day and how to promote these categories as the customer is shopping our stores.”

And those accent and accessory categories from across the value spectrum are key pieces in the company’s promotional materials. Becky Ziegler, vice president of marketing, said Big Lots engages with influencers as part of its social media push, and they love including décor pieces in their posts. Kuehl said décor pieces are also prominent in ads.

“When we do our print marketing pieces and digital marketing piece, we do a great job of putting these pieces together,” Kuehl said. “When she sees the furniture, she will see the decorative pillows, accents and bedding that will help her pull a room setting together. We encourage that when we’re thinking with our buying teams.”

And as home continues to grow for the company, Big Lots is open to additional opportunities with vendors.

“We work collaboratively with our partnerships and vendors to build exclusive collections,” Kuehl said. “If there are any vendors who aren’t partnering with us for home décor in any way, we’re open to addressing opportunities for either an in-line standpoint, a collection standpoint or closeouts. If there are vendors that want to participate in our collections or closeouts, we encourage them to reach out to us.”


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