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Prepare for sunny days

Alfred Dockery, Cinde Ingram -- Casual Living, April 1, 2008

Many of you are keeping close watch on weather forecasts and consumer confidence reports, knowing those factors affect the casual furniture industry more directly than the slowed housing market, which has the indoor furniture industry struggling.

“I don’t care how good the economy is, business is tough if it rains every weekend,” Jamie Lowsky, CEO of Pride Family Brands, told me. On the other hand, if the economy is tough but the weather is beautiful, more people want to spend time outdoors with their family and friends. While Lowsky’s company has reinvented itself at least three times over the last 30 years and evolved to serve high-end specialty customers, he plans to add a few collections to target the mid-price range, too. He said, “We feel it’s an opportune time for us to make all the filet mignon we can, but also add a little bit of hamburger to the party.”

In addition to a report about Pride’s facility in Costa Rica, you’ll also find advice inside this issue from Donna Myers, who explains how retailers can promote grills now to benefit literally from the steaks-and-hamburgers holidays ahead.

This season offers promise for our industry despite the uncertain economy, with its record high gas prices and talk of recession. The Wall Street Journal surveyed economists who expressed concerns a 2008 recession could be worse than the downturns of 1990-91 and 2001. They also predicted recovery could begin as soon as the second half of this year.

Meanwhile, your stores look great and will be ready when the weather is beautiful and consumers are buying. Right?

You can prove it now by taking some photographs in your store and sending them to us by April 28 to be considered for our annual Merchandising Awards. For details, visit

Just seeing how good the vignettes, store front and outdoor displays look in your photos will boost your staff’s confidence. Earning recognition for your merchandising efforts from others in the industry, as well as respect from your customers, is a great way to start the season — rain or shine.

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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