Casual Living interviews Keith Koenig
May 8, 2017,
Editor’s Note: In the April issue of Casual Living, we printed an interview with Keith Koenig, president of City Furniture. Below please find the Q&A’s that didn’t make it to the page, but you’ll want to check out:
CL: Why do you think the outdoor category has become so important to full-line retailers?
KK: The outdoor is just another room in the house. It always seemed to make sense to me. During the 2007-2009 Recession, we weren’t adding categories. There wasn’t much expansion. Then in 2010, the storm had cleared; it was only drizzling, and it was time to step out of the Ark. We were looking to see some greenery—and there was. We saw the overall market improve.
CL: How do you set yourself apart in the competitive Florida market?
KK: We have a range of prices. We have a beautiful woven sofa for $799. We have to sell a lot to make it work.
There’s a lot of supply, and there are domestic suppliers. But there’s a global supply chain that furniture retailers like us, buy from.
We’ve partnered with some select companies. I’m encouraging one, to come to the U.S. because he’s got capacity. The outdoor category is robust in Guangzho. I go to the show in Spoga, but I mostly only do business in Europe, Belgium, but not so much in the U.S.
CL: How do you incorporate outdoor in your overall merchandising strategy?
KK: From a merchandising standpoint, what can a Home Depot or a Lowe’s do? They can deal in quantity, but they don’t carry a lot of coordinated sets. When we buy collections, we buy one, two, three, four deep-seating chairs, a small sofa and a large sofa, all available in three cushion colors. We merchandise to create an environment. We don’t carry all the SKUs. Brown will sell best, but gray will add another 25%.
When we got back into it, we were at a fork in the road: Either create a patio gallery, or merchandise by lifestyle. With the rest of the indoor furniture stores, it was... Here’s all the dining rooms and living rooms and bedrooms. It was all done by category. I’d shopped other retailers and the patio galleries looked disjointed to me.
CL: Are there certain aspects of the outdoor category that don’t make sense for your business?
KK: Furniture fits into our supply chain, and we’re comfortable developing truck-load and container-load relationships. We’re comfortable flowing with the global supply chain.
We don’t do special orders but we do carry cushions in different colors. They design it and make it to our specifications.
CL: What’s your favorite thing about this business?
KK: It’s great going into customers’ houses and seeing what they have. I recall delivering a sectional to a house. Turns out about all the furniture in the house was ours. One of the delivery guys said, “We see that all the time.” I asked the delivery guys how many people are moving into a new place, and the answer was, “five or six out of 10.”
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Don't miss the November digital edition of Casual Living! In this month’s issue, we look to the future of retail with a spotlight on technology. Assistant Editor Alex Milstein breaks down the basics of artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) and how they’re changing the furniture shopping experience. We also explain how building engagement on social media channels can boost business for retailers.
You’ve waited two years, and it’s finally here! Casual Living’s biennial Universe Study offers a comprehensive snapshot of the outdoor category, highlighting its growth across all segments from furnishings to shade to grills.
Also in This Issue:
• Designer Viewpoint: A Beverly Hills backyard gets a glam makeover, thanks to renowned designer Christopher Grubb.
• Market Report: Our editors give you the inside scoop on all the new outdoor introductions at the High Point Market. Can you say Cobonpue?
• Casual Insights: Kathy Wall of The Media Matters offers insight on refreshing your brand.