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New Creative offers retailers help, not just products

NEW CREATIVE, a division of Decorative Concepts, focused on supplying decorative outdoor flags and garden accessories in the 1980s and ’90s, but turned its attention two years ago toward developing trend-right collections for outdoor living.

NEW CREATIVE, a division of Decorative Concepts, focused on supplying decorative outdoor flags and garden accessories in the 1980s and ’90s, but turned its attention two years ago toward developing trend-right collections for outdoor living. Now, the Milford, Ohio-based designer and distributor of outdoor and seasonal decor provides product selection packages and in-store merchandising solutions to help its 10,000 independent retail dealers.

 From left, front row, Mark Haas, creative director, and Benno Duenkelsbuehler, president; back row, Christine Duffey, creative director; Jan Slusher, national sales director; Teri Makin, director of marketing, and Jodi Winters, custom product manager.

 From left, front row, Mark Haas, creative director, and Benno Duenkelsbuehler,president; back row, Christine Duffey, creative director; Jan Slusher, national salesdirector; Teri Makin, director of marketing, and Jodi Winters, custom product manager.

New Creative President Benno Duenkelsbuehler understands their challenges. Duenkelsbuehler was named president in October after 18 months as head merchant at New Creative and Square Nest. His experience includes a decade of work with several best-in-class lifestyle retailers including Pottery Barn, Ikea and Bombay Company.

“To us, the days of only selling are over,” he said. “It’s about providing a service, adding value and doing things the retailer doesn’t have time to do. Instead of them having to pick from 3,000 different

SKUs, I’m giving them kind of a combo meal.”

New Creative’s team of 10 in-house designers began offering “pre-pack” solutions or “35 different combo

meals” early in 2006.

Duenkelsbuehler thinks in terms of solutions for product and merchandising. “Our collection approach is the product solution for the consumer who wants to decorate their yard in a certain look,” he said. “Then the merchandising solution comes in where we help the retailer merchandise this look in a way that it works in their store.”

 Displays of cohesive collections offer retail ideas.


 Displays of cohesive collections offer retail ideas.

 Poolside grouping pulls product together by color and theme.


 Poolside grouping pulls product together by color and theme.

For example, for a retailer who wants to fill a 4-foot section with containers of all looks and price points, New Creative can pick a given number of SKUs out of one or several collections to fit that size space. “These pre-packs help the retailer bridge the gap between how the end consumer wants to buy it and how they’re currently merchandising it.”

New Creative uses a dual strategy, Duenkelsbuehler said. “On one hand, we develop a number of cohesive collections around very specific design looks — color themes, certain shapes, icons or patterns,” he said. “On the other hand, we service probably 10 major product categories, where we have full assortments.”

Its slogan, “Outdoor spirit, outdoor charm and outdoor life” reflects the trend of how consumers want to spend their time away from work. Collection themes create environments tailored for the ways homeowners use their outdoor rooms, whether as a kitchen, living room or a play space.

“We had good success with this direction for the last two years in terms of new customers coming on board,” Duenkelsbuehler said. “There’s really an empty niche in the market of outdoor living that’s design driven, innovative, just fun and fresh and speaks to people of all ages — not just young people or just older people, but addresses the whole movement. In the ’90s, we were taught by the Martha Stewarts, the Pottery Barns and the Crate & Barrels of the world to decorate the indoors and now consumers are taking the inside outdoors.”

New Creative expects the category’s growth to continue and is addressing the challenge of communicating its message through catalog and Web site photography, some of which shows what a specific presentation might look like in a store.

Another focus for New Creative has been training its sales force. Its new sales partnership with OneCoast’s ND ONE service is expected to provide an even higher level of support for the independent retailer. Make it a combo for the road.


From the Winter 2006 issue of Garden Decor

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