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Room at the Top -- Part Two

Vendors see opportunity at the higher end

Here are a couple more manufacturers’ reflections on the future of the specialty retailer, what successful retailers are doing differently and how their companies are helping them succeed. For the complete Room at the Top report, see Casual Living’s September issue. (Also, click here to see our earlier online report.)

Tropitone, Mike Echolds, CEO

Tropitone, Mike Echolds, CEO

"To the extent the focus is on the outdoor room, I think they have a tremendous future because the consumer is so interested in entertaining outdoors. That’s not just in the Southern market, but even in the Northern market. But the way they’re doing it is with chat sets around fire pits. The way they express the outdoor room is a little different because the season is shorter. The specialty store can do things for the outdoor room that the mass merchant just can’t do. If they focus on that, offer unique product and service, they’ve got a good future -- though it will be tougher in the northern, colder climates.  "We’re trying to give them product that works in these large outdoor spaces, like this chair-and-a-half and all of our deep seating. We’re really focused on comfort. Also we are very focused on our Tropitone University because we believe the dealer needs help training their salespeople to tell the dealer’s story. Our Tropitone University is a training program geared to teach their salespeople the fundamentals of selling, it’s not about product."

Meadowcraft, Rory Rehmert, vice president sales and marketing
Meadowcraft, Rory Rehmert, vice president sales and marketing

"I think there’s opportunity for growth providing our specialty retail base is willing to change to cater to who our true consumer is. "There are still retailers out there who sell a table and four chairs and think the consumer will be back next year for the chaise. "The successful retailers are the ones who carry full collections and can dress it up to truly make the set look like it would in a backyard – and some of these decks being built in the backyard are 20x30 or 30x40. They know your best shot at that consumer is the first time around. Our goal and what we’re able to do is to offer full collections to give a retailer plenty of ammunition to throw at that consumer, our true consumer. I think the economy will continue to squeeze the middle and the low end. In a true specialty store, the vast percentage of their showroom floor is upper middle to the top end."

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