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Q: How trend-driven are your customers? Do they follow fashion, stick with classics or follow their own drummer?

Carl Vice, Casual Living & Patio Center, Lexington, Ky.

They are very much trend-driven. They're seeing these beautiful landscaping and designs in lots of magazines; they're listening to their decorators; they're doing lots of different things. Yet by the same token, when they're in the store and they see some of this product everybody's saying you've got to have and they take one sit, they're saying 'That's not for me; I want something comfortable. I work hard and when I get home, I want to sink into comfort.' I think they're more comfort-driven than anything else.

We can work around the fashion. We can work around the unique pattern or the super modern look. We can do a lot of things, but the first thing is they've got to find something that fits their butt. They're looking for fashion, pizzazz, individuality, customization and they want something nobody in their family or their circle of friends are going to have — that's where the specialty retail store shines. We bring things that are different and unique to the market; we don't bring a stack of chairs. Unfortunately though, the consumer has to make that decision based on comfort

Marc McDonald, Leisure Living, Salt Lake City

Our customer in general seems to be sticking with the classics. Nationally we are the most conservative state in the country. We are seeing a growth of out-of-state people coming for a variety of reasons and these people seem to inspire different tastes and lifestyles.

Many are more fashion-forward and seem to have a good idea of what interests them. But after the season is over our bread and butter merchandise that we have sold for years is still our stores' bulldog.

Garry Weisman, G. Weisman Sales, Houston, Texas

Most of my dealers' customers are classic driven. Trends that are hot now, if they continue, will usually start making a statement three or four years from the time a trend begins.

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