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Tommy Bahama sparks interest

Debbie Stegman's passion for Tommy Bahama was apparent as she visited the brand's permanent showroom last month during the Casual Furniture Pre-market in Chicago. And her husband, also named Tom, showed no signs of jealousy. He noted how well the "life is one long weekend" slogan was catching on at their four stores in Ohio and Indianapolis.

"We did great with it this year," she said. "The consumer knows the name. For Tommy Bahama to come into the outdoor business is really phenomenal. With the whole concept, theme and charisma, this product was so easy to sell. You had to romance it with the candles and accessories so I just made it a whole side of the store. Most of our sales were between $10,000 and $40,000. Even if people didn't buy the furniture, they bought four to six billboard pillows or the candles."

Chrisann Furciato, director of marketing, Tommy Bahama, said she thinks the collection of outdoor furniture and accessories will only get better. "I think Tommy Bahama says outdoors so the logo is very important and we used it as we tried to round out the furniture with accessories. From the cabanas to the umbrellas, everything can be identified as Tommy Bahama."

"I'm blown away by this showroom," said John Lyons of Patioworld, a multi-store retailer based in Chatsworth, Calif. "Apart from here, I haven't seen anything exciting."

Bill Echols, president of Outdoor Experience, said the new 4,000-sq.-ft. permanent showroom allows enough space to display the complete collection of outdoor furniture and accessory products as well as the merchandising concepts developed for Tommy Bahama. "This is a lifestyle brand and it's important for the retailer to present the total concept of the brand to the consumer," Echols said. "We're also very excited to be adding sales reps in our second season to service our dealers base."

About 250 decorative fabric options are available now for the brand, inspired by elegant tropical living and showcased in Suite 1625–26 at The Merchandise Mart. Showroom manager Ramsey Prince thinks it also will intrigue designers in the Chicago area. "It's very designer-friendly and it gives them the ability to purchase everything in the Tommy Bahama line," he said. "With the extensiveness of this line, it's going to be a real experience having the showroom open."

Gina Nelson, Tom Stegman, Chrisann Furciato, John Brennen and Debbie Stegman.

Roxanne and John Lyons of Patioworld.

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