June 3, 2011,
WHEN I CALLED ASHLEIGH KOSIN TO LET HER KNOW OUR judges had selected Bell Tower Outdoor Living as our Merchandising Awards' Best First-Time Entry, she said her store has been "crazy busy" since the weather turned.
I later talked with a sales rep who calls on the Southwest Michigan store that Kosin and her husband Jack opened in 2008. "They've got a lot going on in that store," he said. That much was apparent through the more than 15 high-quality photographs the Kosins submitted to enter our contest. In addition to outdoor furniture and accessories, Bell Tower offers a large selection of Life is Good apparel, swing sets, play sets, trampolines and water-sports equipment. Each product is intended for outdoor use and offered in easy-to-clean materials.
Cheerful and sunny were words that repeated as our panel of judges reviewed photos made inside and outside the Richland, Mich., store. In several vignettes, it was easy to understand how the store uses themes and signage to immediately explain the groupings being promoted. Repeated items in some displays create dramatic visual impressions. Vertical and horizontal elements combine in tight groupings to allow plenty of products to be shown.
Although retailers remain cautious, our "How's Business" retail survey shows half are seeing an increase in casual furnishings sales. They also have responded to economic pressures by adding lower price points to their mix and keeping inventory levels lean.
Homecrest’s six-top boat table is fully set inside Bell Tower Outdoor Living. Vertical spaces hold a Hatteras hammock fi lled with toss pillows, beach balls and dangling wind chimes. The far wall displays an outdoor lamp and apparel in a rainbow of colors. Photo by Jim Powell
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November Digital Edition
Don't miss the November digital edition of Casual Living! In this month’s issue, we look to the future of retail with a spotlight on technology. Assistant Editor Alex Milstein breaks down the basics of artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) and how they’re changing the furniture shopping experience. We also explain how building engagement on social media channels can boost business for retailers.
You’ve waited two years, and it’s finally here! Casual Living’s biennial Universe Study offers a comprehensive snapshot of the outdoor category, highlighting its growth across all segments from furnishings to shade to grills.
Also in This Issue:
• Designer Viewpoint: A Beverly Hills backyard gets a glam makeover, thanks to renowned designer Christopher Grubb.
• Market Report: Our editors give you the inside scoop on all the new outdoor introductions at the High Point Market. Can you say Cobonpue?
• Casual Insights: Kathy Wall of The Media Matters offers insight on refreshing your brand.