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Top retailers vie for industry honor

The Summer & Casual Furniture Manufacturers Association has named the finalists in its annual Apollo Awards program recognizing retail excellence.

Finalists demonstrate outstanding accomplishment and commitment to customer service in retail sales. SCFMA member companies selected the winners last month and will announce the results Sept. 15 at the Apollo Awards banquet during the International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market in Chicago.

The SCFMA and Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. are co-sponsors of the event.

Leisure Living




 Marc and Sharon McDonald

 


Though a first-time Apollo Award nominee, Salt Lake City-based Leisure Living has been hard at work since 1982. Run by Marc C. and Sharon McDonald, the 17,500-sq.-ft. store employs 14 full-time staff members and four part-time employees.

Featuring casual collections from O.W. Lee, Tropitone, Alu-Mont, Winston, Cast Classics, Mallin and more, the retailer is continually improving internal operations and merchandising, areas most critical that require change and improvement yearly.

"We work with all our manufacturers professionally," Marc McDonald said. "We've always supported their programs and do a large volume of business with many of them and have always made payments either ahead or on-time. We have a beautiful showroom and our staff is unmatched in professionalism and courtesy while dealing with our customers and manufacturers daily."

Beachcomber Home Leisure



 
Beachcomber is run by Dennis Melvin and his three sons, Bryce, Kent and Shawn.

 


Founded in 1985 in Kelowna, British Columbia, Beachcomber Home Leisure is run by the Melvin family — President Dennis Melvin and his three sons, Bryce, Kent and Shawn.

The last couple of years have been busy for the Melvins. In March 2005, Beachcomber's second location opened in Vernon, B.C. They are currently conducting feasibility studies to build a third location in Kelowna.

The first Canadian retailer to become a member of the Casual Classics buying group, Beachcomber's store carries Homecrest, Tropitone, O.W. Lee, Hanamint, Lloyd/Flanders, Kettler, Cuscini Designs, Agio and more.

A previous Apollo Award winner (2002, international store category), Melvin said, "We are always excited to partner with vendors and who give us the ability to showcase their products which create the 'wow' we reflect in our stores."

The Kolo Collection



 
Owners Greg and Michelle Martin

 


The Kolo Collection opened in August 2003 in an Urban Midtown Atlanta setting. Owned by Michelle and Greg Martin, the store's focus is on high-quality, high-design outdoor casual furniture and accessories. Lines include Brown Jordan, Janus et Cie, Lister, Pavilion, Point, Skagerak (formerly Trip Trap), Tidelli and TUUCI.

Since opening, Kolo Collection has received much recognition. Named the "Best New Outdoor Furniture Store" by Atlanta magazine, the store also has received a Casual Living Merchandising Award for "Best Store Front Single Store," and was featured as a "Top 25 Garden Shop" by Garden Design magazine. Additionally, Kolo Collection has been featured in Southern Accents, Southern Living, The New York Times, Cottage Living, Domino, Atlanta Home & Lifestyle, Atlanta Magazine's Home and Atlanta magazine. Kolo Collection also collaborated last spring with TBS by providing the casual furniture for a national broadcast of "Movie and a Makeover."

Entertaining customers and potential customers has become a trademark of Kolo Collection. In 2005, the Martins joined forces with a local boutique for an in-store fashion show that drew local TV coverage and more than 400 people. That event was followed up with the Web site and photography launch party for TLC's "Trading Spaces" star Hildi Santo-Thomas.

The goal of providing a unique approach to shopping for outdoor furnishings starts with the 4,500 sq.-ft. showroom but doesn't end there. With a small staff (four employees), Kolo Collection focuses on personal service with each customer and designer. Special touches include free at-home consultation and space planning as well as custom cushions and free local delivery.

This is Kolo Collection's first Apollo Award nomination.

Treasure Island



 
Treasure Garden is operated by Lynn Beylerian, president; Paul Pinajian, executive vice president; Robert Ishkanian, chief financial officer; and Peter Jerauld, patio buyer.

 


With more than 500 employees and 16 locations, Treasure Island was founded in 1970 and is operated by Lynn Beylerian, president; Paul Pinajian, executive vice president; Robert Ishkanian, chief financial officer; and Peter Jerauld, patio buyer.

The 30,000-sq.-ft. stores carry Agio, Meadowcraft, Brown Jordan International, Carter Grandle, Cast Classics, Gloster, Hanamint, Tropitone, Winston, Lloyd/Flanders, Telescope and Treasure Garden. Treasure Garden has been nominated many times for an Apollo Award, and was a recipient in 1984, 1993 and 2002. The store is constantly updating its selection of furniture and recently added more seating than in the past.

Bronze Frog Gallery



 
Kathy Thomas

 


The Bronze Frog Gallery was opened in May 2003 by Kathy Thomas, a landscaper who operated a successful landscaping business in the Greater Toronto Area for 34 years. Thomas' vision for the gallery is to extend the culture of garden design and construction to include the finishing touches, "the treasures that attach a person to their gardens." Her motto for both the gallery and the landscaping company, Green Thumb Landscaping Limited, is "one mission....great gardens....since 1971."

A family-based business, Thomas started Green Thumb Landscaping with her late husband. After he passed away in 1993, Thomas' son-in-law, Todd Rainey, became operations manager and Melanie Giraourd became manager of business development.

Paine's Patio



 
Doug and Kristin Shearer

 


This is the first Apollo Award nomination for Paine's Patio, based in Pocasset, Cape Cod, Mass. Opened by Doug and Kristin Shearer in 2002, the 8,500-sq.-ft. store carries Telescope, Tropitone, Laneventure, KNF, Kingsley-Bate, Rock Wood, Outdoor Lifestyle, Carter Grandle and Kettler.

Paine's Patio concentrated on two large deck expansions this year, with plans for another expansion in 2007.

Paine's Patio has been recognized four times in "The Best of the Cape & Islands," and prides itself on its wonderful staff and exceptional customer service.

Hoigaards



 
Hoigaards' management staff includes (standing) Todd Brewer, president; and Tom Egan, assistant manager, furniture; Conrad Hoigaard, owner and CEO, and Jill Hoigaard Brewer, buyer (sitting).

 


Located in Minneapolis, Minn., Hoigaards was founded in 1895. A three-time Apollo Award winner, the store is owned by Conrad Hoigaard and operated by president Todd Brewer and general manager/vice president Mike White.

This year, Hoigaards moved away from the low price/container business and turned its focus to the Outdoor Room, special order business and products that enhance inventory turns and higher tickets.

With 32 employees, the retailer carries Brown Jordan International, Winston, Laneventure, Lloyd/Flanders, Woodard, O.W. Lee, Gloster, Janus et Cie, Uwharrie Chair and more.

Dodds & Eder




Dottie Simons, left, and Joe McLaughlin with sales associates Joann Perkins and Carrie Leopold, seated.

 


Founded in 1897, Dodds & Eder is located in Oyster Bay, N.Y., with key executives Joseph McLaughlin, president; David McLaughlin, vice president, and Dorothy Simmons, general manager.

The retailer carries Ancient Mosaic, Basta Sole, Brown Jordan International, Cast Classics, Century, Palecek and more in its 12,000-sq.-ft. store.

In the past year, Dodds & Eder completely renovated its front entry, which allows customers to now stroll through the garden area as they approach the building.

With complete vignettes offering not only furniture but a full line of accessories, Dodds & Eder is a great place to visit again and again.

S

unnyland



 
Debbie and David Schweig

 


Based in dallas, Sunnyland Furniture was founded in 1970 and is owned by David Schweig and Debbie Schweig. Ron Joiner is general manager.

Sunnyland's 35,000-sq.-ft. retail showroom has 23 full-time employees and carries furniture and accessories from Ancient Mosaics, Arlington House, Brown Jordan International, Carter Grandle, The HammockSource, Henri Studios, Hanamint, Homecrest, Jensen Jarrah, Laneventure, Lloyd/Flanders, Mallin, O.W. Lee, Olympia Lighting, Outdoor Lifestyle, Tropitone, Winston, Woodard, Telescope and more.

In 2005, Sunnyland created new lifestyle vignettes in its showroom, with new ideas on the horizon for 2006.

"The concept of presenting the outdoor lifestyle to consumers through various vignettes and outdoor displays has been suggested by leading experts in our industry for the past few years," the Schweigs said. "Sunnyland's willingness to follow this direction has hopefully positioned our store in a leadership role. Having built well-established relationships with different entities of the outdoor market has enabled Sunnyland to have an always changing fresh appearance for our clientele. Combined with dedication and cooperative teamwork, Sunnyland has one common goal — to exceed our customer's expectations in every aspect of the business from product choice and presentation to delivery and exceptional customer service."

Season Four



 
In addition to casual furnishings, Seasons Four also carries hearth products, Christmas trim-a-tree and garden products.

 


Seasons Four was established in Lexington, Mass., in 1970. It is a family-owned business founded by Arthur and Connie Georgaklis and is now owned by their daughter, Laura Hopkins.

Twelve thousand square feet of space is filled with casual furniture, hearth products, Christmas items and garden accessories from Brown Jordan International, Woodard, Tropitone, Laneventure, Lloyd/Flanders, Summer Classics, Cast Classics, TUUCI, Archie's Island and more.

Patio & Hearth



 
Key executives at Patio & Hearth include Deborah Stegman, president; Thomas Stegman, vice president, and Brent Severson, general sales manager.

 


Patio & Hearth was established in 1987 in Dayton, Ohio. Locations now are found in Dayton, Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio, with an Elegant Outdoors store in the Indianapolis market.

Stores average 12,000 square feet of display. The retailer sells medium and upper price point merchandise, with key vendors that include Brown Jordan International, Winston, Lloyd/Flanders, Tropitone and Casual Classics.

Key executives include Deborah Stegman, president; Thomas Stegman, vice president, and Brent Severson, general sales manager. Patio & Hearth has been nominated for the Apollo Award five times.

"We certainly appreciate the nomination for this award," Tom Stegman said. "We feel our merchandising mix and the overall appearance of our stores as a premier source for outdoor design are what separate us from the pack. We have outstanding people who are all thoroughly trained on our mission at Patio & Hearth."

Plans are to open two stores in 2006 with locations to be announced.

Robb & Stucky Casual Living



 
Robb & Stucky introduced a new concept to its Bonita Springs, Fla., showroom this year.

 


In March, Fort Myers, Fla.-based Robb & Stucky introduced a new concept in casual lifestyle and outdoor furnishings. The company themed its Bonita Springs, Fla., showroom around three gathering places in the home — kitchen, family room and outdoor living. Partnering with KitchenAid, the showroom includes the KitchenAid Culinary Center with space for up to 65 people for classes and special events with an on-staff executive chef.

The more than 50 employees are led by CEO Clive Lubner, President and COO Fred Berk, Vice President of Outdoor Living Jon Rubenstein and Brad Holman, merchandise manager for outdoor living.

Furnishings and accessories from Laneventure, Veneman, Lloyd/Flanders, Brown Jordan International, Woodard, Gloster, Summer Classics, Cast Classics and KitchenAid are housed in the 10,000-sq.-ft. stores.

Patios Plus



 
Jim Scultz and Kristine Schutlz-Hutchinson

 


With two locations in the southern California desert, Patios Plus has made quite an impact since its opening in 1978. Boasting an interior design department that handles large design projects for the home, it's the "Plus" in Patios Plus that sets this retailer apart from competitors.

In addition to the design department, 16,000 square feet of the 30,000-sq.-ft. Rancho Mirage store is devoted to casual furniture from manufacturers such as O.W. Lee, Brown Jordan International, Winston, Gloster, Kingsley-Bate, Lloyd/Flanders and more. The stores' contemporary architecture and high-end interiors lend themselves to complete lifestyle motifs.

A 10-year plan finally came to fruition in 2005 with the opening of its La Quinta location, with 6,000 square feet of floor space and an additional on-site warehouse.

With 18 employees catering to the needs of every client, President Jim Schultz and Vice President and Secretary Kristine Schultz Hutchinson always suggest mixing groups together to best achieve a casual lifestyle.

Also owned by Les and Janice Schultz, parents to Jim and Kristine, it's truly a family affair at Patios Plus. "The real reward has been working together as a family to build a strong and exceptional store," Jim Schultz said. "It is the nature of the retail and of casual furniture business to be affected by uncontrollable events, such as weather, growing competition or the economy, and it is the challenge of the retailer to rise above those events and still turn a profit. It is the challenge that still holds the attraction for us."

Casual Marketplace



 
Owners Harold and Petey Fleischut and manager Kevin Boyle

 


Owned by Harold and Petey Fleischut and managed by Kevin Boyle, Casual Marketplace was founded in 1995 and opened its second store in 2003. With 15 full-time employees and seven part-time, the retailer specializes in indoor and outdoor casual furniture for family rooms, sunrooms, patios and decks. Casual Marketplace has maintained a successful storefront because of its true partnerships with manufacturers and its goal to exceed customer expectations.

Lines carried at the stores include Acacia, Big Green Egg, Brown Jordan International, Carter Grandle, Cast Classics, Gloster, The HammockSource, igarden, Kitchen Aid, Laneventure, Lloyd/Flanders, Summer Classics, Tyndall Creek and Woodard.

The Greenhouse Mall



 
The Greenhouse Mall is owned by Matt and Muriel Wiggers, and managed by Galindo and her husband Paul.

 


The Greenhouse Mall, founded in 1977 in Austin, Texas, has had a busy year. The retailer expanded into the San Antonio market with an 11,000-sq.-ft. store that boasts a built-out 135-ft. wall depicting scenes and vignettes from other cultures that is used as a beautiful backdrop for the furniture.

The San Antonio location offers the same high-end merchandise from manufacturers such as O.W. Lee, Laneventure, Gloster, Windham Castings, Kessler, Brown Jordan International, Olympia Lighting, TUUCI, Jensen Jarrah, Riverwood Casual and more, and immediate delivery for which the Austin store is known.

In Austin, the Greenhouse Mall has greatly expanded. A new 8,000-sq.-ft. showroom was added to its eight-acre display, complemented with bright, natural colors and lots of windows. What used to serve as The Greenhouse Mall's main showroom has now been turned into a discount clearance center that offers customers a lower price point on closeouts and special purchases that previously were not available to Greenhouse Mall clientele.

In order to handle the expansion, The Greenhouse Mall has built a 20,000-sq.-ft. warehouse. In addition, the Greenhouse Mall continues to expand its outdoor display. This year, another two acres of display has been landscaped to feature new decks and patios for displaying furniture.

"The reaction from both customers and manufacturers regarding our expansion has been tremendous, and while we are proud of where we came from, we are even more excited about where we are headed," Manager Karen Galindo said.

The Greenhouse Mall, owned by Matt and Muriel Wiggers, and managed by Galindo and her husband Paul, won the 2002 Apollo Award in the single store category, and has been nominated several times. This is the retailer's first nomination as a multi-store operation.

Georgia Backyard


 


Key executives at Georgia Backyard are Brian E. McMillan, Dino Luckino and Lee Recchia.

 


With seven stores in the Atlanta and Dallas metropolitan areas, Georgia Backyard shows no sign of slowing down. President and CEO Dino D. Luckino plans to open an additional store each in the two cities in 2006, with continued development and expansion of product knowledge and a sales training program as well as the introduction of complementary categories.

In the last year, a new store opened in Atlanta in the Perimeter Mall location and Luckino developed an on-line product knowledge and sales training program. In addition, the retailer introduced Sundance Spas as a category and moved into a new warehouse in Plano, Texas.

"Our focus is on complete customer satisfaction," Luckino said. "Our efforts are resolutely focused on continuous improvement so that we can become the best retailer possible. We bring consumers the very best in the casual furniture industry has to offer, in a pleasant, friendly environment."

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