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Letter to the Editor

We were disappointed with this article (about BJI retail outlet, p. 34, June 2005 issue). We felt the focus of the article should have been on the fact that Brown Jordan was opening multiple Elegant Outdoor stores and a factory outlet that were all factory owned. Although, it was noted in the article that BJI (officials) suggested they might open other locations in areas where they felt they did not have the representation they thought they warranted.

It should be noted that all four of BJI's retail locations are in close proximity to a past Brown Jordan retailer. Why would a manufacturer want to antagonize past or future customers?

As an industry, we need to support manufacturers that do not compete on a retail scale. What is going on now with indoor furniture is a good example of what can happen to our industry (i.e. Bassett storefronts). I believe the whole industry is watching BJI as an example to see if retail outlets are a viable alternative to casual furniture dealers.

We should expect companies that we have a long history with not to drop us from their current dealer base if we do not place an early buy each year. Most casual dealers have to carry some overstock that they fill in throughout the year. We try to keep our door open to every company we have carried in order to service the products we have sold our customers.

In the case with BJI, we placed an EB in 2004, but not in 2005. In 2005, we did have a good year with special orders despite their new stores. We currently have four groups on our floor from BJI: Breeze, Coast, Roma Strap and Legend. Surely this should qualify us as a dealer. We have no desire to discontinue our association with BJI.

In your article Mr. (Bill) Echols was quoted as saying, "Home & Patio lost their status as a viable Winston dealer about two years ago when she dropped her approximately $150K Winston order in favor of carrying O.W. Lee products." Neither of these facts is correct. I am surprised that Mr. Echols or Casual Living did not verify these statements. O.W. Lee has had an exclusive distribution policy with Patio One (in Houston) for several years. O.W. Lee has only this year opened their distribution to one other dealer, BJI. We certainly never wrote a $150K EB with Winston.

We realize manufacturers have the right to give exclusive lines to dealers who step up to the plate, but we never expected any of our sources to be our competition. It is also questionable as to why other retailers would be on board to help BJI set up retail locations. Surely the possibility of becoming their competition should be a concern.

In the 37 years we have been a casual store we have seen many changes in our industry, some good and some otherwise. It is up to the dealers and manufacturers to work together for common profit.

Beverly Weeks, President, Houston Home & Patio

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