Adding furniture to a store’s sales floor requires time and money. With these tips, retailers can confidently include pieces worth that investment.
Western retail stores that include furniture, like sofas or bedroom sets, provide more than a place for a customer to rest their feet while shopping; they provide a window into the lifestyle. From hacienda styles to traditional cowboy motifs, Western-themed furniture can fit almost any store’s look.
Tanner Dipple, store manager at Adobe Interiors in Fort Worth, Texas, knows that his store is not the only one selling Western furniture. However, he invests in big-ticket items because he knows “Western” will never go out of style. Because of that, Adobe is a popular go-to for homeowners and interior designers across the country.
“It is timeless! Designers are incorporating Western elements into other styles, too,” he says. “It continues to sell consistently throughout the years.”
In addition, Dipple looks for unique pieces to include in his stock so they attract attention and sell fast. He is among other successful retailers who focus on “boutique” finds.
Blue-Eyed Buffalo has four locations in Texas: Big Spring, Gainesville and two stores in Stephenville. Space is a consideration for Gainesville store manager Patricia Bennett when adding furniture to display. Bennett knows that pieces that make a statement move quickly.
“The look I desire for the store is a furniture boutique, ” Bennett says. “Western furniture is warm and inviting. It takes fun and funky and blends in style and elegance. Use leathers, fringe, animal prints, and then throw in some reclaimed wood pieces, and you have Texas Western style.”
The wow factor is also a must for Gwen Hudson, owner of Santa Fe Ranch in Okeechobee, Florida. Hudson has sold Western-style furniture and décor for more than 25 years. She stages and sells furniture from her guest lodge, Quail Creek Plantation, and also from her storefront.
“I love Western-style furnishings because it is [about] more than just a look; it is about the feelings that the style evokes,” says Hudson. “Sitting in an over-stuffed, distressed buffalo leather sofa, wrapped up in a colorful throw with twisted leather fringe and lying back on a down pillow with a Western theme brings a sense of nostalgia and security of days gone by.”
Secrets to Success
With furniture that evokes warm emotions, a proper display is vital. Adding accessories places the piece in a home-like setting, aiding customers in visualizing how it will fit in their own homes. Unique pieces are important, but pairing stock with your store’s ideal customer is rule No. 1 for Dipple.
“Buy furniture pieces that fit the look of your store and the price point of your average customer,” he says.
Bennett agrees it could be a gamble to add a high-priced piece. Understanding that selling furniture requires an investment up front and patience once it is in store sets up the retailer for realistic expectations.
“Price does not seem to be a problem for some folks, but others will comment that they will come back when they win the lottery,” she says.
Use your imagination and hunt for inspiration, our experts also advise, when deciding on furniture to add and how to display it.
“Be a student of design—look at design books and articles, and for ways to arrange and group pieces and accessories,” Bennett says.
Dipple also encourages retailers not to be “afraid to experiment and try new things.
“Inspiration can be found in anything. When rearranging a display, don’t overthink it, just do it!” he says.
“Display a mix of custom-looking pieces and those with mass appeal,” Hudson adds. “When displaying a piece of furniture, make sure to accessorize, but not so much that you overwhelm the customer.” The choice to invest in stocking a store with furniture that fits can be daunting. With the right inspiration, furniture can add flavor to floor displays and new clientele for a business.
As with any item, the average time for moving furniture off the floor and home to a customer greatly varies. Here are some strategies to keep the furniture—from coffee tables to armchairs—flying out your store’s door, whether you focus on furniture or use it to merchandise other goods.
Sell Off the Floor – “We sell furniture directly off the floor, so it is always changing,” says Tanner Dipple of Adobe Interiors. “This gives the store a fresh and different look. Always rotate the furniture and accessories around the floor.” Dipple says that if a piece isn’t selling, move it somewhere else on the floor.
Mix it Up – A mix of custom and stock pieces keeps customers exploring at Blue-Eyed Buffalo and coming in to any of their four store locations. “One thing that sets me apart from other furniture stores in town is that I do custom living room groups, bedding and window treatments,” says Patricia Bennett, manager. “Also, I do not group similar pieces together, such as beds, tables, sofas, etc.” The custom/stock mix helps her make a sale without selling the floor piece. She keeps eye-catching pieces in the front of the store to attract potential customers walking by.
Keep Fresh Inventory – The inventory at Santa Fe Ranch changes weekly. The store adds pieces or delivers sold merchandise, allowing for new displays. “Turn and burn in a day is the goal, but not reality,” Gwen Hudson says. “Furniture does not typically sell as quickly or as well as accessory items, but the monetary rewards are greater.” Hudson says she adds flavor and gives a piece a new look with floral arrangements and different accessories.
Dress it Up
The big-ticket item might be the table, sofa or other furniture piece, but accessories can make the sale. Our experts weigh in on their must-have items to help push a furniture piece. “Changing the look and location of a particular vignette is a common practice we employ often,” says Gwen Hudson of Santa Fe Ranch in Okeechobee, Florida. “Adding a rug or a well-worn pair of boots lying beside a piece can help set the stage. We utilize cowhide rugs in almost all of our displays.” Be sure to accessorize with items that fit the piece and the store. Here are the most utilized items to stage furniture, and they also sell themselves when paired with furniture.
Art – Be it a Western landscape or a modern twist on an Old West theme, artwork paired with furniture can set a tone.
Pillows – They add a splash of color and comfort to the furniture. It’s also good to have a setting to sell pillows in your furniture display.
Rugs – Nothing says “Western” like a cowhide rug. A dark piece of furniture can pop when placed on top of a light rug, or vice versa.
Lamps – Ambience can be created using the right light. Make a cool leather sofa feel homey or make a comfortable bench look chic with the right light fixture.
BLUE-EYED BUFFALO Locations in Big Spring, Gainesville and Stephenville, Texas. blue-eyedbuffalo.com 254-918-2015 (Stephenville)
SANTA FE RANCH Okeechobee, Florida santaferanch.com 863-824-3389
ADOBE INTERIORS Fort Worth, Texas adobeinteriors.com 817-294-0053
Story and Photography by KATE BRADLEY BYARS
(Originally published in Western Lifestyle Retailer Spring 2018 issue.)