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Casual Living announces winners of 8th Annual Merchandising Awards

Casual Living announces winners of 8th Annual Merchandising Awards

Sponsored by Glen Raven, makers of Sunbrella fabrics, this year’s Merchandising Awards contest drew a record number of entries, many from retailers who had not previously entered the annual competition.

The submissions raised the bar this spring and judges had a tough time deciding on just one winner in several of the categories, which is why readers will notice multiple stores were awarded with ties.

Summer Classics’ retail stores received the highest honor – Most Fashionable Retailer 2008 – and will receive a complimentary store visit by designer and judge Mark Abrams. Abrams will set-up an in-store event for customers at one of Summer Classics’ 13 locations. All winners will receive a plaque to display in stores.

Judges this year included Abrams; Cinde W. Ingram, editor-in-chief of Casual Living; Courtney M. Paschal, associate editor of Casual Living; Lisa Casinger, editor of Kids Today magazine; Susan P. Dickenson, retail editor of Home Accents Today magazine; and Ray Allegrezza, editor-in-chief of Furniture/Today magazine.

Most Fashionable 2008

Best Overall Merchandising, multistore

Summer Classics

outdoor deck with furniture
Summer Classics’ Raleigh location boasts an impressive outdoor display area complete with accessories and attractive fabrics.

Known as the “Ralph Lauren of outdoor furniture,” Summer Classics owns and operates 13 retail locations throughout the Southeast, including Richmond, Va.; Pelham, Ala.; Orlando; Charlotte, N.C.; Atlanta and Chicago. Summer Classics also is a manufacturer of casual furniture and fireside accessories.

Dining room set
Summer Classics wows with its merchandising techniques, showcasing outdoor furniture and accessories in traditional interior-like vignettes.

The company won the coveted honor of Most Fashionable hands-down. Judges were unanimous as they viewed shots from several of Summer Classics’ showrooms. One judge said, “I love this store. I want to live in this store.”

indoor art work and rugs
Artwork and an indoor/outdoor rug tie-in with the Huntsville, Ala., showroom’s lime green walls, also complemented by a more neutral woven set, mosaic table and accoutrements.

Showcasing a variety of furniture styles, each vignette differed from the other, but maintained a cohesive balance from the outdoor display to the interior showroom. The wow factor was evident throughout as each square foot was merchandised effectively, with products tagged, branded and plugged in. The design overall was well thought-out, not cramped and fussy.

Best Overall Merchandising, single store

Sunnyland Furniture

Sunnyland Furniture’s store transformation that began almost six years ago continues to reap benefits, especially

Italian villa vignette
O.W. Lee’s San Cristobal Collection is showcased within an Italian villa vignette created with an actual solid wood door, textured stucco walls and stone columns.

its 10,000-sq.-ft. showroom cleverly showcasing distinct outdoor lifestyle vignettes. The loft display shown below captured judges’ attention and helped complement all of the other positive notes that were made. Architectural elements, the use of unique fabrics, color and variety of accessories helped tell

Sunnyland displays a realistic balcony An Brown Jordan’s Havana fireplace
Sunnyland displays a realistic balcony/loft living environment. An 'exterior’ outdoor living room displays Laneventure’s Hemingway Collection complete with fireplace, television, window pictures, arbor and spotlights, all outdoor-friendly. Brown Jordan’s Havana fireplace is fully accessorized, surrounded with outdoor lighting, garden decor, interior accents and more.

a “complete story,” said one judge.

Best Use of Accessories, multistore - First time winner

Southern Casual Furniture

Based in Jacksonville, Southern Casual Furniture also has an additional two Florida locations in Ponte Vedra Beach and St. Augustine. Family owned and operated since 1992, judges were impressed with not only the variety of accessories found at the store, but with the clean, clutter-free displays. One judge described the store as dramatic. The only suggestion from judges was to see more color integrated throughout the vignettes.

outdoor dining furniture Patio furniture deep seating display Outdoor furniture display
Southern Casual’s Ponte Vedra Beach location exhibits vignettes that showcase what is needed for a complete outdoor living area — from dining and deep seating pieces to outdoor lighting, wall art, foliage, heat elements and more. Textured walls create an elegant backdrop to this display. Taking a step back, a brief overview of the store told judges its displays were kept clean and clutter-free for an easy and delightful shopping experience.

Best Use of Accessories, multistore

Greenhouse Mall

Interior livingroom set exterior patio sets
colorful exterior furniture indoor sofa
Greenhouse Mall’s northwest Austin location boasts a variety of interior and exterior accessories along with casual furniture. The retailer utilizes space within the store, from wall shelving to tables and even displaying product on the window sills.

With two stores in Austin, Texas, and one in San Antonio, Greenhouse Mall is a name familiar to those in the casual industry. Greenhouse Mall made it a point a few years ago to increase its accessory inventory, and the store hasn’t suffered for it. Customers definitely have a choice when it comes to buying accessories for the outdoors or in, and judges liked the way the store was merchandised in product groups. Plants added life to the showrooms.

Best Use of Accessories, single store - First time winner

Inside Out Home Furnishings

Outdoor table and chairs with throw pillows and lamp colorful furniture options
Smaller throw pillows, an outdoor lamp and tabletop accessories help accent an on-trend vignette. The store provides a good balance between colorful, fun vignettes and more neutral options as well.
Black and white fabrics with a more sophisticated, contemporary style pair with an updated Adirondack chair. Inside Outs showroom
Black and white fabrics with a more sophisticated, contemporary style pair with an updated Adirondack chair. Inside Out Home Furnishings’ showroom complements casual furniture with home accents to create an elegant, classy shopping experience.

Based just outside of Nashville in Brentwood, Tenn., Inside Out exudes a sophisticated, elegant vibe, coordinating both interior and exterior accessories in a classy, simple manner without becoming too cluttered and messy. A variety of colors and fabrics showcase the magnitude of choices available when shopping for outdoor furnishings.

Best Use of Accessories, single store - First-time winner

Swimm Pool & Patio

Department signage in Swimm An outdoor living vignette within the store.
Signage throughout Swimm's showroom notes 'departments' such as candles, picnic accessories and more. Foliage, windows, tabletop accessories and more surround an outdoor living vignette within the store.
Shelving helps utilize wall space in the showroom. A beach/nautical themed display.
Shelving helps utilize wall space as well as display additional merchandise in the store. A beach/nautical themed display combines outdoor lighting weatherproof wall decor, woven furniture and more.

Swimm Pool & Patio opened its Darien, Conn., retail location in April 2007, though it had been servicing the community for more than 17 years with its pool service. Judges were mostly drawn to the store by its clear signage within the showroom, helping facilitate shopping for customers. A good use of color plus its variety of product helped Swimm tie in this category.

Best Store Front, multistore - First time winner

Patios Plus

One judge called the store’s architecture edgy and contemporary.
Inside Patio Plus showroom Inside Patio Plus showroom.
Judges were impressed with the showroom’s open store front and floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing light to pour into the store and customers to see exactly what is inside.

Open since 1978, Patios Plus has a 30,000-sq.-ft. showroom in Rancho Mirage, Calif., and a 6,000-sq.ft. location in La Quinto, Calif. The company’s store front drew judges in as one that surely stands out in the California desert, with beautiful architecture, good signage and a lot of windows.

Best Store Front, multistore - First time winner

MidState Pools & Spas

Midstate Pool Outdoor side display of pools.
MidState’s corner location allows for an elaborate store front (or side) display of its pool services and product carried in the location.

Serving the middle Georgia area with its line of pools, spas, fountains, waterfalls, patio furniture, grills and more, MidState Pools & Spas boasts an elegant corner store front that also houses an impressive outdoor area where pools and furniture are on display. Passerby would definitely know what the retailer carries and its charming exterior would draw them in.

Best Store Front, single store - First time winner


Hoigaard Hoigaard
The large signage attracts customers, while a barbecue, planters and small furniture vignette tell potential buyers what products can be found inside. Hoigaard’s proves that location is never a hindrance, whether situated in a strip mall or as a stand-alone store.

Located in St. Louis Park, Minn., Hoigaard’s serves up an interesting product mix that not only includes casual furniture and accessories but also bikes, footwear, canoes, kayaks, apparel and more. The retailer easily won this category as judges noted the store’s impressive logo and signage, highlighted with product showcased at the entrance to the store. As one judge said, “It’s inviting, looks different and interesting.”

Best Outdoor Display, multistore

Paddock Pools, Patios & Spas

Through its outdoor display, Paddock tells customers the company is not only about pools and spas, as a variety of furniture and accessories, including outdoor fireplaces, are craftfully merchandised as well.

With retail locations throughout Arizona and Nevada, Paddock has created a niche in and of itself selling everything a homeowner would need for an outdoor living space. Its Gardentown Pool Pavilion in Scottsdale, Ariz., is the world’s largest pool and spa display and continues to impress judges year after year. Integrating grills, heat elements and accessories into the mix garnered the judges’ attention, as well as its use of color in the sling chairs and foliage surrounding the display.

Best Outdoor Display, single store - First time winner

Paine’s Patio

A colorful display in seashore colors welcomes customers who visit Paine’s Patio. The location’s architecture —similar to a beach house — also captured judges’ attention.

With its vast Cape Cod history, Paine’s Patio has received a lot of attention. A family business since 1835, the store is housed in a 10-story building that houses not only outdoor furnishings and accessories but a nautical gift shop. The architecture of the building caught the judges’ eyes with plenty of outdoor furniture on display.

Other Home Furnishings Sites

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Gifts and Decorative Accessories
Home Accents Today
Kids Today
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