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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.

  • How to succeed: Be the source to create her dream home

    If I mentioned the names of Nat Ancell and Theodore Baumritter, I wonder how many of you would know both or even one of them? In the spirit of true transparency,  I never met Baumritter, but did have the opportunity to meet Nat Ancell very early in my career. For those of you not familiar with either man, Nat and his brother-in-law, Theodore, co-founded Ethan Allen. Even though it was decades ago, I remember my first conversation with Nat as clearly as if it had taken place yesterday. Since I was new to the business and quite literally a tabula ... Read More
  • Stay ahead of the consumer, trusty retailers

    I recently read an interesting article which suggested that thanks to a slow but steadily improving economy, an improving job market and higher home values, the shoppers are back. To which I say, “Not so fast, Kemosabe.” Oh, she may be venturing out of the house. She may be shopping. She may even be shopping at your store. But that does not necessarily mean she is the same shopper you wooed before the recession. Chances are, your new-normal shopper is carrying less cash, carrying much less debt, may have less of an appetite for luxury goods and is thinking not ... Read More
  • M-commerce game adds a winning strategy for retailers

    Way back in the day – as in the 1890s – the Baltimore Orioles were among the nation’s top baseball teams.   In addition to a reputation of consistently winning, they are also remembered for being the inventors of “scientific baseball,” a strategy that catches the opposing team unprepared for a certain play. One of the stars of that team was an outfielder called Wee Willie Keeler, who was credited for advising his teammates to “Hit ’em where they ain’t.” Fast forward to today and the game we call retail. Now, more than ever, retailers looking to connect with consumers are ... Read More
  • More home furnishings are moving outdoors

    If you still had doubts about outdoor furniture seemingly on everyone’s radar, the recent news about Klaussner Home Furnishings throwing its hat into the ring should put this debate to bed once and for all. I happen to know that Klaussner had been keeping a close eye on the outdoor segment for quite some time. So, what prompted one of the largest suppliers of stationary upholstery to enter the fray at this point in time? And what might this mean to competitors and customers alike? As reported both in Furniture/Today and in Casual Living, Klaussner announced that it ... Read More
  • Speed to market efforts call for sharing, collaborating

    I recently had the pleasure of hosting and moderating Furniture/Today’s fourth annual Logistics Conference. Our theme this year, Logistics 2014: It’s about time, underscored the fact that with time being money, speed to market was a critical link to having a profitable supply chain. Our event got off to a great start with a compelling keynote delivered by Dave Nielson, co-president of online giant makes it a point to be dominant in every category it sells, and that more than holds true for its very large assortment of outdoor furniture and accessories. Despite ... Read More
  • Keep stores appealing to attract customers

    If this was ‘the winter of your discontent,’ take heart … you were not alone. Mother Nature was anything but nurturing to retailers this winter, and many of my retail friends tell me that they got clobbered this winter. One retailer in Minneapolis pointed out that the area had more than 40 mornings with temperatures that were sub-zero. Another retail friend with stores in New Jersey and Washington, D.C., confided that his business this past winter was off almost 40% compared to the prior winter. Rich Wilson, president and CEO of Alco, a Kansas-based chain of some 217 stores, blamed ... Read More
  • Diving into the category

    Invariably, the minute I would open our pool each summer, one of my kids would jump in and yell, “Come on in … the water’s fine.” When I hosted a breakfast roundtable with leading Top 100 brick-and-mortar furniture retailers who had added outdoor furniture to their mix, I couldn’t help but feel that same sense of invitation. Here’s why: While City Furniture, El Dorado Furniture, Furniture First, Grand Home Furnishings, Gorman’s Furniture, Johnny Janosik, Levin Furniture and Star Furniture each have their own very successful and very distinct merchandising tactics, they essentially spoke with one voice when ... Read More
  • 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