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  • Cinde Ingram

First casual furniture performance group forms

The West Coast region is leading the way in creating a casual furniture performance group, appropriately named The Pioneers.

The first four retail members, with casual furniture stores in California and Arizona, have agreed to become consultants to each other as they seek comparisons.

"When you get into the group, you're committing as much to getting help for yourself as to giving help to all of the other people," said chairman Tony Schindler of Paddy O'Furniture, Phoenix. "So it's rewarding from both ends because you're sharing your successes and how you arrived at those as well as exposing your weaknesses and letting other people in the group help you with those."

Small business owners often struggle to evaluate their company's performance and need to compare results confidentially with others who are not direct competitors, but are doing business in the same category.

Schindler first learned about performance groups in other industries through networking with software providers, who described such groups as the best thing they had ever done for their businesses. He began investigating companies like Kansas City, Mo.-based Xscend and Atlanta-based Shepherd Consulting, who had introduced the concept to the indoor furniture market a few years ago. As a result, he talked with Keith Koplan of Koplan's Furnishings in Vancouver, Wash., and James and John Baker of Baker's Fine Furnishings, Dallas, who spoke highly of the benefits to their stores and encouraged him to form a group for the casual furniture industry.

So far, the Pioneers include Doug Wheat of Hauser's Patio & Rattan in San Diego; Brian Lawrence and Candy Chase of Emigh's Casual Living in Sacramento; and Gavin Herbert and Marcia Blake of Roger's Gardens in Corona del Mar, Calif.

They held their initial meeting in January, following the CFR Forum in Atlanta and will meet again in Dallas June 6–7. The third meeting in November will be in Phoenix and include a site visit at Paddy O'Furniture.

Retailers interested in more information can contact Schindler at 602-569-0815, ext. 227 or Tonypof@msn.com.

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