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Cinde W. Ingram

Casual Classics buying group adds members

Retail buying group Casual Classics has grown to 23 owners of casual furniture retail chains, representing more than 175 stores in North America and Puerto Rico.

That's more than double the number of stores involved when the group formed and rolled out its first outdoor furniture and accessories offerings in September 2001.

"We, as specialists, noted we needed to have a defense mechanism to compete," said Buzz Homsy of California Backyard, who started Casual Classics with his nephew David Ghiz of Paddock Pools, Patios & Spas in Arizona/Nevada and the late Jim Bowen of Lighthouse Pools in Cleveland.

Word spread within the industry about the buying group's plan to give the chains a brand identity with high-performance designs built to their specs, central purchasing and protected territories to prevent overlap between the member chains. Nebraska Furniture Market, a Top 100 furniture dealer, was among the newest members to join the group.

"We have met our forecast for two years in a row and are about a week away from paying our first dividend," Homsy said in early February. "Each of the 23 owners own 1/23rd of the whole. We don't inter-compete with each other. We're talking with each other and listening to our customers so we stay right on top of the trends."

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