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Jamie Sorcher

Harris' conference address challenges retailers to step outside comfort zone

Chad Harris, co-founder and chief financial officer of The Garden Gates, a brick-and-mortar store as well as an online retailer, will be one of the presenters at the second Casual Living conference, Outer Spaces: Expanding the Universe for the Outdoor Room, to be held Feb. 20-22 at The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa in Tucson, Ariz.

In business since 1999, and the store are run by Harris with his co-founder, his wife Jacqueline Elizabeth Kendall- Harris. The company offers a wide range of items including bedding, lighting, home fragrances, luxury linens, outdoor furniture and more.

Harris, who will offer his thoughts on "How to Send Your Competition to a Black Hole," said he plans to share some advice with casual furniture retailers that might surprise them - like how to raise prices and do other things that are the polar opposite of everything they might want to do.

"The truth is that retailers have to learn how to run a business in the new reality we live in," he said. "Store keepers go to their businesses, unlock the doors, sit down and then wait for sales to happen. We live in a virtual world. Consumers who are under 25 years of age all have their face in a phone. So the question is how do you run a real business in a virtual world - even if you are not an online company."

It is all about creating a story about your business, Harris said, that must be so enchanting that your customer will shop with you no matter what. "Consumers are home in their pajamas and they shop at night while drinking their chamomile tea," he said. "They are doing research and they are savvy - and this isn't about age or price. This is where things are going. No question."

Even though there is both a physical store and a website, Harris said he now spends every waking moment thinking about his company's online business, which ships product everywhere.

"The casual industry has an opportunity to sell in the U.S. every second of every day," he said. "That is the reality."

For more information on the conference, contact Casual Living Publisher Norman Hamilton at or National Sales Manager Kristin O'Brien at Sponsorships are still available.

To register and for additional information, visit

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