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Apollo Award nominees: AuthenTeak, Atlanta

Nominees meet their challenges head on

ABOVE THE RESTWHILE 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.

Single store | AuthenTeak, Atlanta

DAMON FOGEL AND ERIC BRENNER HAVE COME A long way since opening AuthenTeak as a weekend-only business in 2004. With their second Apollo Award nomination now in hand, the business partners have a clearly envisioned, four-pronged growth strategy via their retail showroom, online presence and trade and contract relationships.

AuthenTeakAuthenTeak set pricing tiers this season to tie discounts to spending.
     "We are an outdoor furniture and grill specialty business, but we've determined that we also can be a trade showroom specialist and a contract specialist. The same is true with the Internet," Brenner said.
     That means making cold calls and aggressively going after design trade and contract business as well as leveraging social media and selling online. To that end, they hired two additional full-time staff members this year.
     "We now have a full-time marketing person as well as a full-time staff person to focus on the interior design community, which really helps. People don't have to be multi-tasking all of the time," Brenner said.
     AuthenTeak's 15,000-sq.-ft . retail showroom, however, remains the primary focus. Over the past two seasons Brenner and Fogel pulled back their mix slightly, adding just a bit more to their middle-price point offering. Customers still consider the big-ticket items - in particular, they're still willing to spend $5,000 on a grill - but seem to be more interested in spending $10,000 on a collection rather than a single piece of outdoor furniture.
     To counter any expectations for deep discounts, AuthenTeak set pricing tiers this season. If a customer spends a
Damon FogelDamon Fogel, left, with Eric Brenner
certain amount, they get a certain percentage discount; the more they spend, the bigger the savings.
     "Customers know they'll only get what they qualify for which keeps discounting to a minimum, and that goes right to the bottom line," Brenner said.
     That clarity and a decent season set a positive tone at AuthenTeak this year. "Doing business was much more pleasurable this season," Brenner said.

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