Retail Perspective

Two Futon Specialists Go up Against The Big Guys
Casual Room Opens Classy 2,500 Square Foot Showroom

Saturday, July 15, marked the opening day for owners Skip Amberger and Clint Quinn of their new Casual Room futon showroom in Jacksonville, Florida. The Grand Opening was scheduled to coincide with a local mall event called "Home Furnishings Campaign" on September 25 through 30.

Located in the largest regional mall within the one million plus metro area, mall management estimates that some 40,000 folks a day make Regency Square their shopping destination. According to Amberger, President of Casual Room, "The traffic in the showroom is outstanding."

Working with futon showroom designer Bear Murphy, each futon group is arranged within a vignette, using drapes and valances to create faux windows. Then designer futon accessories such as futon bolsters and pillows, (lamps, vases, wall discs, acrylic paintings, metal wall sculpture and table top pieces including leather covered animals) are added in that tie each set together with a finished room "designer" look. "There's something here to appeal to everybody," Amberger says.

Earmarking a large portion of their budget for decorative accessories, they constructed display shelves geared to feature over 450 futon cover swatches as well as decorative accessories: paintings, wall sculptures, large vases, lamps and occasional furniture such as tables, comforter racks, magazine racks, coat racks, clocks, etc.

"Presentation of thefuton product using cross merchandising is key to this type of showroom," states Murphy. According to her, some retailers realize up to 60% of their gross sales in decorative accessories, and Casual Room owners saw that futon category as a way of capturing a larger sales volume in a shopping center where accessories of the style and quality they offer are scarce.

Quinn says, "Accessories have emotional appeal and don't require delivery and set up. They not only offer the consumer instant gratification, but also give them a reason to keep returning to the showroom to purchase additional accessories for their entire home."

Using futon covers from S.I.S. Enterprises, Omni Softgoods and Casual Lifestyles along with furniture from August Lotz, New West/From The Source, National Woodcraft, Rosalco, and BBI futon frames, each vignette was color and style coordinated, incorporating many custom pieces from the Spiral Collection. The Spiral Collection features such items as 40 inch wall discs, canvases, lamp bases and shades of tissue collage artwork to emulate the patterns, as well as lamps and vases partially wrapped with the same fabrics as the futon covers.

By offering custom pieces to coordinate with the 450 futon cover pattern choices, the Casual Room salespeople can assist consumers in creating a designer look without the need to pay designer fees. Inventory and re-order of decorative futon accessories are made easy by the fact that Murphy is not only a showroom designer, but also represents all the accessories companies and can assist the salespeople in special orders, as well as facilitating and following up on orders.

According to Amberger, "The metal wall sculpture is selling beyond all expectations, and buyers seem to be most interested in the high end." Murphy has been in the showroom specialty industry over twenty years and has won more than forty awards on behalf of her clients for outstanding advertising, exhibit and showroom design, packaging, point-of-purchase and product catalogs. She currently represents the following decorative accessory companies to the bedroom and futon markets: The Spiral Collection, Artisan House, Art Mates, Clay, Metal & Stone and The Rose Collection. She is looking to add another lamp line, ceramic sculpture along with silk florals and greenery to those lines.


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