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Cinde W. Ingram

Inside/Out opportunities

Changes and interior designers working outdoors

Changes are tough but necessary, given today’s challenging business climate.

Executives in various U.S. industries have repeated those sentiments lately. They echo a reality captured 2,500 years ago by the Greek philosopher who wrote, “The only constant in the universe is change.”

While the indoor home furnishings industry struggled through last month’s High Point Market, casual furniture buyers and sellers sailed through showrooms with guarded optimism.

Those involved with the contract and design side of the business expressed excitement about their opportunities ahead at this month’s Hospitality Design Expo. In this issue, we’ve taken a look at how the interior design segment is turning itself inside out to respond to the outdoor living trend.

Luxury market goods are selling consistently despite the tight economy. Design Solutions’ Pamela Merritt told me, “The outdoor kitchen is one of the hottest, fastest-growing categories in the luxury market.”

Summer Classics founder and President Bew White was upbeat when he visited High Point in preparation for this month’s opening of its 13th retail store with its latest partner Pools Plus in Louisville, Ky. The store will include the Summer Classics Home concept, blending indoor and outdoor furniture styles. White said sales have exceeded expectations during the first few months at Summer Classics’ store in Atlanta. Across the nation, Phoenix-based Today’s Patio announced it had opened its fifth casual furniture store to serve the growing East Valley.

Those who are connected with this month’s National Hardware Show also are expecting growth in lawn and garden product categories.

Anyone involved with imports will likely become less optimistic this month, as expected container freight rate hikes go into effect. Those increases, combined with ongoing changes in China, will present pricing challenges for the industry and may narrow the price gap between domestic and imported products.

The bottom-line is, we can expect more price challenges ahead. It’s a change no one wants, but we must prepare for it to sail through this window of opportunity.

Feedback? Send your comments to:
Cinde W. Ingram
Casual Living Editor in Chief
7025 Albert Pick Rd., Suite 200, Greensboro, N.C. 27409

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