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Casual Living Merchandising Awards 2005

Editors announce annual winners

It's the time of year again when Casual Living staff members gather with judges to analyze and choose the year's most fashionable and savvy retailers from photographs you turned in of your respective stores.

As always, it's a difficult task to choose just one winner in the nine categories, and you'll see we had to reward a tie because we couldn't agree on just one retailer for the prize.

Those awarded this year stand as examples in the industry, showing what works when pulling together a showroom floor, setting up storefronts and working an eclectic mix of accessories in the mix.

Judges this year included Becky Boswell Smith, editor-in-chief of Casual Living, Home Accents Today and Garden Decor; Cinde W. Ingram, managing editor of Casual Living and business editor for Home Accents Today; Lisa Casinger, retail editor for Home Accents Today; Courtney Mueller, associate editor of Casual Living and editor of Garden Decor; and Mark Abrams, freelance store and showroom designer.

The 2005 winners will receive plaques noting their achievement, with a crystal award presented to the Most Fashionable Retailer.

Thanks to all who entered the competition.

Sunnyland awarded Most Fashionable Retailer, also receives Best Overall Merchandising, single store

Dallas-based Sunnyland Furniture's owner David Schweig keeps the store on the cutting edge of the outdoor industry. Willing to try new ideas, Sunnyland was recently revamped into three distinct shopping experiences under one roof, including a lifestyle room and enclosed courtyard where themed vignettes are showcased. Judges were drawn to the clean, colorful displays, infused with a lot of accessories. The imaginative vignettes tell a story and take the showroom to another level to show customers how the furniture and accessories can work in their own back yards.

Seasonal Concepts wins Best Overall Merchandising, multistore


   Offering a broad selection in limited display space shows the store is focused on sales per square foot.

Judges were impressed with Seasonal Concepts' full use and range of accessories, from fountains and statuary to a cushion wall and tabletop, without cluttering up the showroom. There are multiple entry points in view, from recliners and chairs to hammocks hanging on the wall. One judge remarked the Plymouth, Minn.-based store is "definitely aware of the dollars per square foot."

Patio & Hearth's Elegant Outdoors store receives Best Use of Accessories, multistore


 Creating vignettes in small spaces and using wall units to display accessories allows the store to layer product effectively.  

Located in Fishers, Ind., judges were drawn to the highly accessorized room scenes, utilizing both indoor and outdoor product. The store layers product with wall decor, lighting and plants, with shelves devoted solely to accessories. One judge commented, "More is better, they offer a great selection."

Summer Classics wins Best Outdoor Display, multistore

   Strong use of color in cushions and accessories helps consumers understand how the look will work in their homes.

One word — color. Summer Classics outdoor vignette is tied together with eye-popping pastels, from the cushions to umbrellas to the rug and decorative pillows, showing consumers that there are outdoor possibilities beyond beige and green. One judge remarked, "Good combination of products to show consumers how to put outdoor living area together."

Dodds & Eder awarded Best Use of Accessories, single store


 The high-end retailer shows product heavily accented with live plants to create an upscale feeling.  

The Oyster Bay, N.Y.-store received accolades from all of our judges for the creative vignettes with layers upon layers of accessories — from permanent botanicals to seashell accents, beach towels, tableware, wall decor and more. It looks like a repeat destination for customers — a plus after a casual furniture set is purchased.

Neighbors Home & Garden awarded Best Outdoor Display, single store


   The ambiance of the real outdoors acts as a silent salesperson for this store as live plants, grills and firepits set the tone for outdoor lifestyles.

Located in Hellertown, Pa., Neighbors makes effective use of an outdoor area. Not overly crowded or fussy, the outdoor display features many elements of outdoor living — from a pergola and grill to a firepit and several casual furniture sets (dining, bar height, conversation). One judge said the vignette had a "staying-in-the-sun kind of feeling."

Pool, Patio & More receives Best Store Front, multi-store


 The use of bright and warm tones gives this box of a store real curbside appeal.  

The use of color and architectural elements caught every judge's eye in this category. The red awnings and roof create visual appeal, while the large planters give added interest. One judge said: "Although the store is a box, they've kept it from being generic with the unique roof and added architectural and graphic details. The wooden doors keep it from being cold — looks warm and inviting."

TIE Best Store Front, single store, goes to The Kolo Collection and Fruehauf's


   Simplicity in design of the storefront windows gives The Kolo Collection a sophisticated, urban appeal.

At Fruehauf's, there's no doubt customers are entering an outdoor-focused store, with displays to tempt at the entrance.  

Judges were torn between the two stores, and decided to award them both! The two are perfect examples of an urban setting vs. a garden center design. The Kolo Collection showcases a clean environment, with a framed front window that changes colorful displays throughout the year. Fruehauf's store front is inviting with an attached greenhouse, beautiful landscaping and an outdoor display at the entrance.


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