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State of the industry: Butch Wallace

Industry leaders share their views, say economic challenges and opportunities co-exist

Butch WallaceButch Wallace

Casual Living tapped the brains of the International Casual Furnishings Association's executive committee and director to find out their prognoses on the health of the industry. The three manufacturing veterans and two specialty retailers shared their perspectives on the current season as well as their outlooks for the 2012 season.

As sponsor of the International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market, the Design Excellence Awards and the Apollo Awards recognizing retail excellence, ICFA is recognized as the authoritative voice of the outdoor furnishings industry. Read on as each of these industry leaders share their views, reflecting on the changing economic landscape and looking toward the horizon for full recovery.

Butch Wallace | general manager, Yard Art Patio & Fireplace, Irving, Texas

1. How would you describe the health of the casual industry?
     I believe the industry's health is improving. Like the rest of the world, we have to be conscious of our costs and bring the best value to the consumer.

2. What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the industry now?
     Our challenges come from every direction. Our customers can choose to spend their money on many things. We have to show them casual furniture is their best choice.

3. Where do you see opportunity for future growth?
     Growth continues to come from new innovative products that impress the customer.

4. What strategy did your company use this year that was successful depite (or because of) the challenging economy?
     Our strategy was to be purposeful in all we did. We take advantage of the early-buy programs to evaluate winners and we watch our expenses at every turn.

Deep-seating collectionsDeep-seating collections and beautiful fabrics perform well at Yard Art Patio & Fireplace.
5. What have you learned that you wish you had known earlier?
     History is a great teacher. As our business grows, we need to make sure our expenses do not outpace our sales growth.

6. What product has been your bestseller?
     I don't want to identify any one item as we had a lot of winners this year. The trend seems to be deep seating and beautiful fabrics.

7. Why do you think it became a winner?
     With the continued growth of the outdoor room, our clients are becoming more conscious of this room and how it looks compared to the other rooms.

8. What new product or collection do you expect to become a bestseller? Why?
   We saw a lot of wonderful introductions at the Preview Show in July and have already placed orders. Again, the excitement was with new deep seating and beautiful fabrics.

9. If you could send a message to retailers to help them strengthen their business, what would it be?
     We have benefited from our membership in the ICFA and the relationship between us and the manufacturers. I recommend to all retailers to join and get involved. Also, the new sales training from the ICFA is a tremendous benefit and we are anxiously waiting on the next installment. This is a must-have for every retailer.

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