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BJI to open two Elegant Outdoors model stores

Brown Jordan International plans to open its first two Elegant Outdoors model stores in Houston this month.

Both stores are located in newly renovated shopping centers, which have expressway visibility. One is located in Baybrook Square (southeast Houston) and the other in Hedwig Village (west central Houston). Fellow tenants include Pier 1 Imports, Mega Marshalls, La-Z-Boy and various other retailers. The stores will feature outdoor furniture designs from BJI brands, including Brown Jordan, Tommy Bahama, Winston, Molla and Vineyard.

"Having been the BJI rep in Texas for the last nine years, I am personally very optimistic about the potential these store locations have to offer," said Ron Ball, BJI vice president, specialty retail sales.

David Barish, president, The Chair King, with 14 locations in Houston, Austin and San Antonio, said other retailers should share his concerns about manufacturers moving into retail roles. The Chair King had carried Brown Jordan, Winston and Casual Living Worldwide lines for many years, but dropped its Winston lines in 2004 "as many dealers did because it was not fresh, had become stale and wouldn't compete with the likes of Tropitone and Mallin and other products on our floor," Barish said. For the 2005 season, The Chair King offers no BJI lines in the wake of a disagreement with its former CEO Bruce Albertson.

"It seems what Brown Jordan has decided is that any market where they think they don't have a partner who will represent their product to their liking, they will go into that market with their own company-owned retail stores," Barish said. "They've begun calling some of my top sales people to try to hire them away. When a manufacturer like BJI goes into the retail business and they come into your city, they're not going to come in as a nice guy. They're going to do whatever they think it takes to get business. That's what I would do as a retailer if I go into a new market, but don't expect me as a retailer then to support you as a manufacturer."

That has been The Chair King's policy since 1973, Barish said. He recalled being among Ashley Furniture's largest retail dealers in Houston until dropping all its lines when the manufacturer opened its own retail store in Austin.

BJI's model stores will be located in newly renovated shopping centers in Houston, with neighbors such as Pier 1 Imports and La-Z-Boy.

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