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Inside Out

Ray Allegrezza
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m the editor-in-chief of Furniture/Today, sister publication to Casual Living. In that role, I oversee the editorial content of our publication and our Web site,, I create content for the paper and the Web site, I pen a weekly column, maintain a blog, create the content for an annual Leadership Conference, and try to stay as plugged in as possible to every aspect of the residential furniture business.

  • Casual category growth gains attention

    When it comes to selling casual /outdoor furniture, the vaudeville singer and comedian Jimmy Durante hit the nail on the head when he observed, “Everybody wants to get into the act.” Without a doubt, the outdoor furniture category, which for years was under the radar for many types of retailers, is now under the microscopes of many different retailer channels, each one hoping to turn category participation into plus business. Probably the most recent evidence of this was in Las Vegas, at the recent gathering of the Nationwide Marketing Group along with thousands of its retail dealers. If you are ... Read More
  • Promote positive consumer interactions

    It’s no secret that the vast majority of consumers, 70% to be exact, begin their shopping excursions online, gathering information, comparing an item’s features and benefits and, of course, comparing pricing. And while they will look to you and your website for much of that information, studies indicate that they will look even harder for customer reviews from shoppers who may have already purchased the goods they are looking for. And even more interesting is that shoppers say that they often trust product reviews from strangers more than they will trust what you tell them on your websites ... Read More
  • How the conference call to action benefits industry players

    If you are also a reader of Furniture/Today, and I hope you are, you know that we wrapped up our annual Leadership Conference last month. Thanks to engaged attendees, knowledgeable speakers and presenters and a great support team here at Progressive Business Media, this event gets bigger and better each year. Last month's conference attracted some 470 executives, making this the largest conference we've presented during the 17 years we've been doing this. In fact, we had to turn people away last month as we had sold out the event. Our retail attendees were a veritable ... Read More
  • Lessons learned from 2013

    I hope 2013 was a year of learning, experimenting, growing and profitability. As I reflect on this past year, 2013 was a year filled with lessons. Here's a few of my takeaways, for what they are worth:No one is impervious to failure. Years ago, if you or anyone else would have told me that Furniture Brands International would end in a Chapter 11 filing, I would have listened politely, and then dismissed that notion as preposterous.Despite having a stable of what many would argue were some of the most revered brands in the business, FBI ultimately stumbled ... Read More
  • Prop 65 lawsuits: Confusion, litigation causing industrial concerns

    As you can imagine, as the editor in chief of the industry's leading B2B home furnishings publication, I get plenty of mail. Last week, I got an email from a consumer who was asking for guidance regarding some outdoor furniture she purchased. However, her question had far more serious implications. While I won't share her identity, I will share her email exactly as it was sent to me. I am also not going to reveal the name of the retailer, but I assure you it is a name you know."Dear Mr. Allegrezza, I sure hope you can ... Read More
  • Meet the Millennials

    At Furniture/Today, we recently put the finishing touches on Take the High Road, a special report that evaluates the opportunities for retailers and suppliers involved in upper-end home furnishings.With all the attention being paid to Millennials, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at the sales potential associated with affluent Millennials.For the record, most observers say that there are roughly 80 million Millennials, making this segment about the same size as the Baby Boomers. When looked at by ethnic origin, about 60% of Millennials are white, 14% black, 19% Latino, 5% Asian, and 2 ... Read More
  • Tapping into consumer buying habits

    When I was in school, I had a favorite teacher who always reminded me that knowledge is power.While I haven't been in school for decades, that phrase still resonates with me because over the years I've come to realize how on the mark that teacher was.So, anytime I see a report that can potentially bring me face to face with new knowledge, I try and make it a point to spend time reading it and extracting any and all information that can make me more effective in my job.A short while ago, my friends at ... Read More
  • Betting on outdoor furnishings

    For many, Las Vegas is synonymous with big, bold initiatives, wagering and that famous female, Lady Luck.So it should come as no surprise that two strong names in the residential sector - Emerald Home Furnishings, a well-established supplier of case goods and upholstery, and case goods maker and importer Sunny Designs - have each doubled down, rolled the dice and are making a bid to hopefully become the newest stars in one of the home furnishings sector's brightest segments: outdoor furniture.During the recent Las Vegas Market, each company unveiled solid offerings in the outdoor segment.In the case of ... Read More
  • The indoors move out as the outdoor room evolves

    It seems like no matter which magazine you pick up, or which website you visit, the outdoor room is in and in big time.I recently read a number of stories about changes impacting tomorrow's home and every one mentioned one or more aspects of the outdoor room and/or outdoor living.One report sang the praises of outdoor living rooms and screened porches. After noting that the trend mushroomed a few years ago, it went on tell readers what you already know - that these spaces are continuing to take on more of the look, form and function of ... Read More
  • Indoor luxuries migrate toward the outdoor room

    The ongoing uptick in home sales coupled with the gains being reported by many of the large home centers points to a renewed emphasis on the part of homeowners, both new and established, to spruce up their castles.Meanwhile, a number of recent surveys strongly suggest that consumers are spending a large portion of their time and money focusing on the outdoor room.For example, a recent survey in Realtor magazine determined that the trend to create upscale outdoor rooms continues to show strength. Specifically, the article identified the trend to bring a myriad of aspects of the indoor room ... Read More
  • Aspirational shopping gains strength

    A few weeks ago, Furniture/Today produced a special section that took a look at the opportunities for selling high-end/luxury furniture.The impetus for the section was prompted in part by a headline I spotted in a recent issue of the Wall Street Journal that read: What Recession? Americans Regain a Craving for Luxury. I was also intrigued by the luxury/high-end segment because even during the toughest months of the Great Recession, I continued to hear stories about how well this segment held up, especially when compared to mid-priced home furnishings and accessories.For the record, while many ... Read More
  • Homeowners favor easy, sustainable features

    Homeowners are upping the ante when it comes to adding and/or augmenting their outdoor rooms, according to the recent 2013 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends survey, an annual poll taken by the American Society of Landscape Architects.When this year's survey asked landscape architects specializing in residential design to rate the anticipated popularity of various residential outdoor elements, the category of outdoor living spaces (defined as kitchens and entertainment areas) garnered a 94.5% rating as somewhat or very popular.The study also determined that across all outdoor categories, 97% of those responding mentioned fire pits and fireplaces as ... Read More