Opening of Outside in Style impresses visitors
Cinde Ingram -- Casual Living, June 21, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas - The grand opening of Outside in Style drew a crowd of about 100 well-wishers - including casual furniture manufacturers from across the nation, retailer friends from other parts of Texas and long-time customers - to celebrate the updated store concept at what once was known as The Greenhouse Mall.
Matt Wiggers, left, with his daughter Karen Galindo and son-in-law Paul Galindo during the Outside in Style grand opening.
Owner Karen Galindo thanked Sphere Trending President and CEO Maxine Lauer, a consultant who helped her develop the updated concept for three stores and a design center. "Kudos to you for being such a brilliant force," Galindo said. She told visitors they were seeing the results of Lauer's expert guidance. "We gave Maxine all of our hopes and dreams ... and our cash," she said with a laugh. "Maxine gave a little ol' store from Texas" a style designed to suit today's changing consumer as well as future customers.
Galindo gave credit to the architect and landscape firms that worked with her on the project. She thanked her staff, who kept selling outdoor furnishings throughout the construction. She also expressed gratitude to her father Matt Wiggers, who founded Greenhouse Mall in 1977.
When the rebranding project started last year, Galindo had worried that her father would not like the updated retail concept and the new name, in particular. When asked, Wiggers said he loves it. "I think she did a tremendous job," he said.
Lauer noted the store tag line of "relax, play, escape" is loosely based on the Disney philosophy. The playset area consumers see as they enter the complex features whimsical yard art that captures elements, such as slay the dragon or be the princess. Instead of a focus on the Disney castle, customers look toward the main store, which carries the new logo in regionally inspired colors and signage with the message: "Style starts here."
The entrance driveway was relocated to direct customers toward the main store rather than to a second building that was formerly the clearance center. As a consumer's eye scopes the buildings, materials suggest industrial, commercial and residential influences, with more to be found inside. Signage there helps to calm the consumer, raise the sight line and remind them this is a small business with a big commitment to service.
Valet parking was offered at Outside in Style’s entrance, viewed from the shade of an outdoor vignette.
The color scheme of light celery, terra cotta, dusty teal and a darker teal reflects residential styles found around the region.
"It wasn't as challenging as normal because Karen is unafraid," Lauer said of the project. "She is very forward thinking. She's brave, high energy and very focused on getting it right. We wanted to make sure we show her personality throughout the store."
Visitors at the open house described Outside in Style as beautiful and a fun concept. They said they loved the flow of the store.
"It's a tremendous improvement, in the outside area especially," said Bill Echols, president of Outdoor Experience.
"Karen has always been an ambassador for specialty," said Warren Juliano, national sales manager, Lloyd Flanders. "She puts such an emphasis on training and on the details of merchandising."
Having retail friends Butch Wallace of Yard Art Patio & Fireplace and David and Debbie Schweig of Sunnyland Furniture at the event was a credit to Galindo. "It's a prime example of someone who puts the specialty in retail," Juliano said. "Instead of being so worried about somebody stealing your ideas, come together and lift up the casual industry as a whole."
Scott Moore, who has worked at Outside in Style for four months, brought ideas from his background at an advertising agency when he suggested the tent cards that give fun facts about specific products found in the store. "We talk a lot internally about how ‘teach' is the new ‘sell,'" Moore said. "We're a high quality furniture retailer and we want to make sure people understand there is a difference and why this is the better product in the long term. This way, even on days when the salespeople are busy with other customers, we can let the merchandise itself tell the story."
Fred Robertson, a long-time customer who first met Galindo's family after he bought a home on a nearby lake 14 years ago, said he was impressed with the store's new look. "We bought a lot of furniture from them over the years," he said.
As part of the rebranding effort, Galindo's stores pared down some of its offerings so that the selection was not as crowded and confusing. "We're showing fewer sets, but we're showing them in a concise, meaningful way," Galindo said. "We have updated the look of all our stores because we felt like for us to be experts on style, we need to show that we have some style."
Warren Juliano of Lloyd Flanders, left, with Bill Echols of Outdoor Experience, Matt Haney of Lexington Home Brands and Ron Ball, sales rep for OW Lee and Windham Castings.
Debbie and David Schweig of Sunnyland Furniture with sales rep Bill Brown.
Frank Verna of Tropitone Furniture chats with Margaret Chang of Treasure Garden.
Debbie Young of Windham Castings, Paul Knutson of Ancient Mosaic Studios and Mark W. Henry of Windham Castings.