Editor-in-Chief Allison Zisko led a discussion among independent retailers at a Home Accents Today breakfast event yesterday morning
Several of Home Accents Today’s Retail Stars enthusiastically started shopping the High Point Market early this week, with many beginning on Thursday.
But, due to full inventory and crowded warehouses, many of these independent retailers are really only looking for unique items that will stand out to their customers.
Several of the Retail Stars from across the country shared their opinions on a variety of issues at Home Accents Today’s Retail Stars breakfast held yesterday at the String & Splinter restaurant sponsored by D & W Silks and Essentials for Living.
“We are fully stocked so we have no urge for stuff right away,” said Jamie Merida from Bountiful Home in Easton, Md. “We are doing more looking and less buying. It makes things easier since we don’t have to buy things, so its whatever catches our eye.”
Courtney Garrigan from Coco & Dash in Dallas agreed.
“We don’t have the room for more stock. We try and stay pretty consistent with what’s coming in and what’s going out,” she said. “That’s the way we buy. We don’t buy in bulk since we are not a major furniture store. We also don’t buy deep into anything; we only buy small amounts – one or two of something – so people realize it’s unique. We are not HomeGoods.”
Some retailers who have an interior design element to their business say they are kept busy looking for items for their projects.
“Mainly we are here to buy for jobs,” said Susan Hoechner from Barbara Stewart Interiors in Bowling Green, Ky. “We are fully stocked, and we have some back stock on upholstery, so we don’t have a lot of floor space. Where we make our money is in interior design and furniture and accents. We set up vignettes since we have a limited amount of warehouse space.”
The retailers said the back stock works well for people who need an item right away. Customers can pick it up that day, or the retailer will deliver it, and it provides for immediate gratification.
“I have a friend who has a shop in Dallas,” said Teddie Garrigan, of Coco & Dash in Dallas. “They will drive the customer to the warehouse and then have them pick out the item. That’s been very successful.”
One of the challenges faced by this group of independent retailers is the influx of damaged goods that arrive almost on a daily basis.
“It is unbelievable how much damaged product we’ve been getting in,” Courtney Garrigan said. “Obviously it slows everything down and basically doubles your work. Most of the time it’s not even packaged correctly. You can’t send a porcelain bird wrapped in newspaper and expect it to get there in one piece.”
The retailers agree that the customers who have been waiting are justifiably upset.
“It’s a huge headache and it slows things down to a grind. Plus, there’s been no reduction in freight charges,” said Christa O’Leary from Home in Harmony in Hingham, Mass.
Vendor Lisa Samuels, national sales manager from Essentials for Living, said over the past year they did enact a price increase, which was largely generated by the increase in freight costs.
“But those have decreased over time, and we now have a 90% reduction in costs for our collection on our price list,” Samuels said. “We just announced that last weekend.”
After market plans include several events for the upcoming holiday season, many of which have a charitable element.
“We have Christmas kickoff for our local hospice,” said Merida. “We used to have a big cocktail party before the pandemic but now we have a weekend event with no party. We sell more on the weekend than we did at the one-night party.”
Christa O’Leary from Home in Harmony and Nora Gomez from NFM in Dallas also host holiday parties with the goal of giving back.
Derrick Clark from Domaci in Bethlehem, Pa., which is known as Christmas City USA, said they kick off the holidays in mid-November.
“We started a program called Home & Heart, we choose a local non-profit and give back,” he said. “We kick it off with a cocktail party at night. This year we are working with Bethany Ministries and a local children’s cancer charity.”