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  • Ray Allegrezza

Charting home furnishings changes

inside out

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m the editor-in-chief of Furniture/Today, sister publication to Casual Living. In that role, I oversee the editorial content of our publication and our Web site,, I create content for the paper and the Web site, I pen a weekly column, maintain a blog, create the content for an annual Leadership Conference, and try to stay as plugged in as possible to every aspect of the residential furniture business.

Whether the bulk your business is in indoor furniture or outdoor furniture, you know the only constant in the home furnishings arena is change.

As a result, we can all forget trying to play by the old rule book, because not only have the rules changed, but the game we call retail seems to be changing on a daily basis.

A recent telling example of two retailers rethinking strategy is Starbucks and McDonalds. A short time ago, Starbucks, which is aggressively trying to find ways to reconnect with its customer base, announced that it will test serving wine and beer in a Seattle location that was slated to shut down.

As you’ve probably read, the anemic economy apparently also gave McDonald’s a perfect foothold to launch McCafe as a direct competitor to the once seemingly untouchable Starbucks.

If someone had told you a few years ago that Starbucks would be serving wine and beer, or that McDonald’s would be giving Starbucks a run for the money in the form of McCafe, you would have smiled and told them to come in out of the sun.

But the fact of the matter is that in today’s market, the lines that once delineated distribution boundaries have blurred to the point of barely being recognizable.

Look what’s been happening in terms of product. If you were at premarket last month, you saw the continuing trend of indoor that is suitable for the outdoor room and outdoor furniture that can looks great indoors.

Not surprisingly, a number of suppliers of casual furniture are hoping to boost sales by encouraging traditional furniture stores to re-floor the category. Meanwhile, more and more traditional furniture stores hungry for new opportunities, are waking up and realizing the opportunities in selling furniture for the outdoor room.

So, clearly, more change is on the way.

This is part of the reason you will be hearing from me in each issue. Having recently taken on the title of Editorial Director of Casual Living, my goal is to bring my 30-year’s worth of experience covering the home furnishings industry to Casual Living.

Specifically, I want to broaden our news coverage, analysis and trend reports as a means of helping you prosper in these uncertain times.

During premarket, I had the pleasure of speaking with a number of you who graciously helped me identify initiatives that can and will take a great magazine, Casual Living, and make it even better and more dynamic.

So, please stay tuned as we have a number of exciting things planned for Casual Living.

As always, I’m anxious to hear from you. Drop me a note at

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