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Outdoor Living display shows merchandising ideas for retailers

Casual Living's Outdoor Living booth at the recent Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Expo attracted new dealers to the outdoor furniture category by showing how to merchandise a variety of products in relatively little floor space to complete the lifestyle for consumers.

Using bright colors, layering products and playing island-inspired music helped set the scene, visual merchandising expert and designer Mark Abrams said. He used three retail concepts within the 800-sq.-ft. booth, showing a Tuscan village style with red, ochre, orange and gold colors next to a more transitional area of beach brights mixing teal, blue and green, then a sophisticated urban area in gray, black, taupe and complete with a spa. Retailers entering the Salt Lake City Convention Center often slowed to observe more closely or stopped to ask questions.

In April, HPBA officials were still tabulating results from more than 600 of an estimated 6,000 attendees who answered a post-show survey, said Leslie Wheeler, HPBA director of communications. At that point, 63% of respondents said they saw and explored the Outdoor Living booth. Of those, 85% said visiting the display was a worthwhile use of their time, Wheeler said.

Retailers were still responding three weeks after the Expo ended, said Faye Wylie, O.W. Lee national sales and marketing manager. "Besides having a great number of in-booth responses, we know they picked up our brochures because they are e-mailing us for additional information," Wylie said.

Hearth dealers looking to crossover categories were able to see the possibility through such products as O.W. Lee's fire pit, party pit and All Seasons table.

"They saw it didn't take a lot of floor space for them to add these," Wylie said. "It was the whole concept. People don't usually have a chance to see it all laid out with the rugs, the table, the tabletop accessories and the plants, the music, the spa, the barbecue and the barstools — it just gave it that whole home feel and tied it together so nicely. It really gave it the 'wow' factor."

Designer Mark Abrams, right, selected beach bright colors to coordinate outdoor home furnishings in booth.

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