Casual Living announces winners of 8th Annual Merchandising Awards
Courtney Paschal -- Casual Living, June 1, 2008
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
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.
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.”
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’s store transformation that began almost six years ago continues to reap benefits, especially
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
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.
Best Use of Accessories, multistore
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
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
|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 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
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
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
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
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
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.
Tiny Girl, Big Dream