• Jennifer Bringle

Designer Destination

Atlanta’s Kolo Collection Caters To Design-focused Clientele

Interior Designers Are Very Important to Atlanta’s Kolo Collection.

How important? The store opened a second showroom in 2015 that caters to the design community at the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center (ADAC)—a campus of 60 home furnishings and accessories showrooms frequented by interior designers.

Owner Greg Martin (second from right) wanted to reach a new audience, one he felt the store’s original location in Midtown Atlanta’s Westside Urban Market was missing.

“You had people either visiting from out of state or even from Metro Atlanta who knew you, but they were going to ADAC and then planned to shoot over to the Westside, but they ran out of time,” Martin says. “We also want to capture a new audience who doesn’t know anything about Kolo or the Westside. But they need an outdoor experience, and that’s one of the things they’re shopping for at ADAC.”

stylings designers
contemporary The contemporary stylings at Kolo appeal to designers.

The 2,200-square-foot ADAC space is not only a matter of convenience—the designer-focused showroom allows Kolo to display pieces that might not fit the more consumer-focused retail floor at its Westside location.

“The product mix is totally different,” Martin says. “We have very little product you’d see in both showrooms. We try to make it a different experience.”

In The Market

Kolo Collection opened its 7,500-square-foot Westside Urban Market store in 2003. From the get-go, the store attracted a discerning clientele of designers by offering high-end and design-focused brands such as Dedon, Brown Jordan, Lloyd Flanders, Mamagreen and Summer Classics, among others.

“Everybody has upped their game, and there are a lot of new players,” Martin says. “Fifteen years ago people didn’t give it a second thought to get a table-and-six that looked like patio furniture. Now if you have a $2 million home and you spent $200,000 on your interior, you’re not going to Home Depot to get a table-and-six.”

Martin and his team keep that in mind as they approach merchandising both the Kolo Westside location and the ADAC showroom. Knowing their clients—both designers and consumers—want more than the matchy-matchy stuff they’d find at a mass merchant or even some traditional independent retailers, the Kolo team takes a more curated approach when selecting items.

Design Driven

Kolo Collection has a significantly smaller space at ADAC, so a keen editing process is even more critical when selecting products. The ADAC showroom tends to be more modern and European with brands like Cane-Line, Royal Botania, Fermob and Manutti.

Because of space constraints, the ADAC mix is even more eclectic than the Westside store and shows more available products.

“In the ADAC showroom, you can’t really see a full group, but even though we’re small in scale, we try to give a full look,” Martin says. “So we’re likely to have a table with four different chairs to show what’s possible and give ideas.”

Kolo’s abc
Kolo’s ADAC Showroom helps drive designer traffic to its midtown location.

And at ADAC, where designers are accustomed to striking deals with showrooms, Kolo offers incentives to entice interior design clientele.

“You discount because they’re bringing you qualified customers you wouldn’t ordinarily have access to,” Martin says. “And they become a repeat customer, and the relationship grows if you perform well and offer the right products.

“You’ll have someone who’s coming to you multiple times a year,” he continues. “These designers and their clients are going to buy from somewhere, so if you’re hung up on discounts you’re going to lose them.”

Martin says the ADAC showroom has offered the unexpected benefit of driving traffic to Kolo Collection’s Westside location, too.

“Often a designer and client will come to ADAC, and our staff there will say, ‘You need to see the Westside showroom because they have something we don’t,’” Martin says. “There is some crossover.”

The investment in the design community has paid off in more ways than just increased business. Kolo Collection was nominated for a prestigious Apollo Award last year, and the company has experienced continued buzz from local media in the Atlanta area.

With the red-hot trend of blending indoor and outdoor spaces, Martin says it just made sense to expand his business in a way that reaches the interior design community—a group that continues to grow in importance for the outdoor industry.

“If an interior designer is doing a project, they want to have things that even though they’re made for the outdoors, they’re refined and well-designed and don’t look like something you’d get at a mass market,” he says. “Our goal is to give them an extension of the interior.”

Image of Jennifer BringleJennifer Bringle | Features Editor, Casual Living
jbringle@casualliving.com

Jennifer Bringle is the features editor of Casual Living. She previously served as an editor and reporter at a number of publications, including Kids Today, AAA Living Magazine, The News & Observer of Raleigh and Carolina Parent. Her work also has appeared in The Washington Post, Southern Living, Our State and The News & Record of Greensboro, and she is the author of several non-fiction books for middle and high school-aged children.  Contact her at jbringle@casualliving.com

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