Casual Living Staff -- Casual Living, February 27, 2012
The inaugural Casual Living conference drew positive responses from retailers, manufacturers and designers who attended.
"This is very impressive and a wealth of information has been provided," said Lane Venture President Gary McCray. "I think retailers and manufacturers alike are going to walk away with a lot to think about and to implement."
Many of the more than 160 attendees said they agreed with the comments of keynote speaker Robert Stevenson, who said the reason most attended the conference was to learn from the mistakes and successes of others.
"Smart people learn from their mistakes; wise people learn from other people's mistakes," Stevenson said. "A lot of mistakes happen because no one asked ‘What if?'" His power point presentation included a dramatic photo of a building that fell after the builder attempted to add a parking lot to correct the mistake of not including parking in its original plan.
Of the 100 companies deemed most valuable in 1985-2000, 91 have since been pushed off the list. "If you don't like change, you're going to hate extinction," he said.
Trend consultant Maxine Lauer continued the learning process by describing how consumers are changing within different demographics. Four of the nation's leading home furnishings retailers then discussed how they are responding to today's consumer to provide the outdoor lifestyle as it extends boundaries of the home.
"We're just now showing modest gains, but we are showing steady gains," furniture analyst Jerry Epperson said. He added that outdoor furniture sales have outgrown any other kind of furniture for the past six years.
"You guys have done a great job of getting people together and getting them excited about this category," said Suzy Roberts, VP business manager furniture fabrics, Sunbrella.
Robert M. Williams, who oversees Houston-based Gallery Furniture's successful social media efforts, said he appreciated the opportunity to work with Casual Living Publisher Norman Hamilton and Executive Editor Nicole Crews in this company's first conference
"I have organized, participated and presented at many conferences, and let me congratulate all of you," Williams said. "Without doubt, this one was not casual by any means, it was first class all the way!"
Glen Raven Custom Fabrics, manufacturer of its Sunbrella brand of outdoor fabrics, was honored as Supplier of the Year. See video of Sunbrella presentation here. Leader's Casual Furniture, the Florida-based, 19-store retailer was recognized as the Retailer of the Year. See video of Leader's Casual Furniture here.
Agio President Bob Gaylord takes the floor during the Issues & Answers segment.
Casual Living Exectutive Editor Nicole Crews and Publisher Norman Hamilton welcome the crowded ballroom.
Doug Sanicola from Outdoor Elegance, Bernie Sensale from Fortunoff Backyard Stores and Kyle Johansen of HOM -- part of the All Star Panel.
Jerry Epperson of Mann, Armistead & Epperson, Ltd. tackles the financial fine points of today's casual industry.
Leib Oehmig, president Glen Raven Custom Fabrics, accepts the Casual Living Supplier of the Year Award on behalf of his Sunbrella team.
Mary Freuhauf of Fruehauf's Patio & Garden Center, Ajay Gupta of Housewarmings Outdoor, Greg Martin of Kolo Collection and Bill Bacon of Bacon's Outdoor Furniture discuss Category Growth.
More than 160 attendees were there for the three day casual extravaganza.
Nicole Crews presents the Leader's Casual Furniture and the Newton family with the Casual Living Retailer of the Year Award.
Petey Fleishut of Casual Marketplace gives her take on the manufacturer-retailer relationship.
Pride Family Brands President Steve Lowsky discusses early buys and other pressing industry issues with other key panelists.
Sphere Trending's Maxine Lauer tackles the tactics for penetrating the X, Y and Z demographics.