Apollo Award nominees: Ken Rash's, Little Rock, Ark.
Kristine Ellis -- Casual Living, September 14, 2011
An eclectic mix of accessories adds depth and appeal to Ken Rash’s outdoor furniture.
WHILE SOME RETAILERS HUNKER DOWN TO WAIT out bad weather and trying times, this year's group of Apollo Award nominees stands out for their determination to create their own destinies. Their ability to adapt is exceeded only by their drive to succeed. This group sets the bar for industry excellence in today's marketplace.
Finalists will be honored and winners announced at the Apollo Awards banquet at the Field Museum on Sept. 14, during the International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market in Chicago.
Single store | Ken Rash's, Little Rock, Ark.
IT HELPS TO LEARN FROM THE BEST. LAWRIE Rash was just 14 years old when she began working for her dad at Ken Rash's, Inc., in Memphis, Tenn. The two of them opened the Little Rock showroom in 1992, the year he passed away.
"Everything that I know and who I am today is based on what my dad taught me. I really think that's the core to my success," Rash said.
In addition to receiving its first Apollo nomination this summer, Ken Rash's was also named Arkansas's Best Retailer of 2011 for outdoor furniture and accessories. In recognizing her business, Rash's retail peers stressed her ethical approach to doing business, a characteristic that Rash says guides her success.
"I'd rather be honest with somebody and tell them when they don't need something; then I know they will be back. Ethics is what keeps someone in business, it's a trust you build with your clientele," she said.
Ken Rash's loyal customer base spans the state due to Little Rock's central location. As elsewhere in the country, weather was a big factor this season after an exceptionally wet spring moved right into triple-digit heat. That and budget-minded shoppers slowed traffic; still, some large sales kept the store on keel with last season's numbers.
"There might have been some pent-up demand," Rash said, adding that because both she and one of her staff have degrees in interior design, Ken Rash's is known as the place to go to get design advice on creating an outdoor room. "We sell a tremendous amount of accessories."
Because of the slower start to the season, Rash is particularly grateful for the cooperation of her vendors.
"It doesn't do anybody any good in the long run for me to have a warehouse full of furniture that I can't sell. Everyone working together definitely strengthens the entire industry," Rash said.
From left, Brian McBride, warehouse manager; Cherie Tomé, offi ce manager; Scott Phillips, grill manager, with Lawrie Rash, owner.