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Retailers advise using accessories as selling tools

If you've been to any trade shows lately, you have surely seen the increase in accessories vendors exhibiting next to casual furniture manufacturers, and for good reason. More specialty retailers are diving deeper into the category for various reasons, whether to help sell the furniture itself, generate repeat business and/or freshen vignettes. For many retailers, accessories have proved to be a successful venture. Here are a few words from retailers who have found success in the category:

Cathy Galbreath-Watson, ABSCO Fireplace & Patio

We carry many different kinds of accessories in our stores, but mainly we carry accessories that complement our furniture. Our main purpose for accessories is to make the customer want to purchase our furniture. If they buy the accessories too, then that's just great.

Our regular customers know they can always find unique and fun items at our stores. We carry quite a bit of tabletop, which includes placemats, acrylic plates, acrylic drinkware and napkins/napkin rings. We try to stay away from glass or ceramic items due to the large amount of breakage. We do also carry a lot of artificial plants, from small to very large, to give the store an outdoor feel.

Our best-selling accessory would have to be throw pillows. We use throw pillows on almost all of our furniture to pull in colors and make it more inviting.

We always shop the gift floors at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago in July and again in September. We usually use the last day for the gift floors, because then we can pick out accessories to complement the furniture that we have chosen. We also try to go to the Atlanta gift mart at least once a year. I feel that accessories are extremely important to our bottom line. If we didn't have accessories, then our showroom floors would look similar to the mass merchants. Even top quality furniture needs to be "dressed." A customer must be able to visualize how our furniture will look in their own home environment.

Judy Edgar and Ajay Gupta, Housewarmings Outdoor

We carry a lot of accessories, both indoors and out. They certainly help our sales. Most customers have a hard time visualizing the entire presentation — accessories help out tremendously. Accessories bring out the best from the main products.

One more benefit from accessories — repeat business. Most customers will do a major buy once in a while, whereas accessories bring them back (and along with them their friends). We can freshen up the vignettes more often and it gives us something to talk about ... some customers frequent us just to see what is new.

We attend the Atlanta Merchandise and Gift Marts and the Casual Show.

Bronze sculptures and fountains, large and small, both indoor and out are popular accessories. Ceramic and concrete sculptures and vessels of all shapes and sizes, lamps, candles and candlesticks, paintings, upscale foliage and florals, and gifts for men and boys, a market often overlooked, specialty items and some with nostalgic interest for the Baby Boomers. Holiday decor is a big draw for us as our base business.

Ron Randall, Godby Hearth & Home

Primarily (accessories) enhance the experience for the customer and make major product lines more appealing and thus easier to sell. If done in a tasteful and exciting fashion, they can drive customers back into the store to see the latest offerings in giftware, and at the same time expose them to ones newest products in majors. I look at them as a sales tool, and as a free or self-validating form of advertising, it is the least expensive way I know to keep repeat customers coming back, and bringing friends with them.

We carry hanging art, whether in the form of paintings, photos, sculpture, tapestries or some other medium of expression; fountains, waterfalls, candles and candle holders, bowls, vases, glassware (decorative over functional), statuary, finials, effusion lamps, electrical lamps, lights and chandeliers, outdoor rugs, frames, mirrors, etc.

It's been a very good year for fountains, outdoor rugs, decorative boxes and vases, crosses and effusion lamps.

We attend the Casual show and HPBA, and anticipate Atlanta to be in our big three in the future.

At ABSCO, tabletop pieces are among the best-selling accessories.

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