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Apollo Award nominees: Carls Patio, Boca Raton, Fla.

Nominees meet their challenges head on

Despite its challengingDespite its challenging markets, Carls Patio aggressively maintains its high-end positioning.

WHILE SOME RETAILERS HUNKER DOWN TO WAIT out bad weather and trying times, this year's group of Apollo Award nominees stands out for their determination to create their own destinies. Their ability to adapt is exceeded only by their drive to succeed. This group sets the bar for industry excellence in today's marketplace.
Finalists will be honored and winners announced at the Apollo Awards banquet at the Field Museum on Sept. 14, during the International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market in Chicago.

Multi-store | Carls Patio, Boca Raton, Fla.

NO ONE WOULD EVER CALL CARLS PATIO tentative. With 19 locations in two of the most economically challenging markets in the country, the specialty retailer keeps its focus on its long-term growth strategy without getting bogged down in second-guessing.
     "We've made a conscious effort to keep our name out in front of the public, to stay fresh and relevant, and to keep our inventory and floors full. When people walk into our stores, it looks like we are ready to do business," said Gary Ecoff, president.
     The alternative - choosing to "go into a shell and just stick your head out occasionally to see if the world is still out there," as Ecoffdescribes it - is counter-productive.
     "When things do turn around, historically the companies that position themselves as we have come out of it exponentially better off than those who don't. So right now, it is all about gaining market share," he said.
     To that end, Carls Patio opened its fourth showroom along Florida's west coast this year, leveraging its South Florida distribution center capabilities.
     In addition, by September the retailer expects to be moved into its new Fort Myers location which once housed Robb & Stuckey Patio.
     "It's a good move for us," Ecoff said. "It takes us from an 8,000-sq.-ft . building in the very south of the market into a 12,000-sq.-ft . facility in the heart of the market. We've been a little challenged in displaying product the way we want

Jayson FriedmanFrom left, Jayson Friedman, Paul Otowchits, Gary Ecoff and Lyle Ecoff lead Carls Patio’s management team
to in the smaller space. The new location is a more modern construction and a more impressive facility."
     Carls Patio's online store, patio-furniture.com, is also undergoing another upgrade as the company continues to develop its version of e-commerce.
     "It's a completely different animal than brick and mortar, but we are already getting a lot out of it compared to the limited capital we're dedicating to it," Ecoff said.
     A frequent Apollo nominee, Carls Patio opened in 1993 as part of the Carls Furniture brand and won the Apollo Award in its first year in business.

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