Ins and Outs

Outdoor living fabrics find a home inside too

Savvy buyers and designers are more excited than ever about the possibilities technological innovation in fabrics brings to products and design. A new crop of fabrics are so advanced, the possibilities extend far beyond outdoor cushions.

Even industry insiders can have a tough time distinguishing “outdoor” fabric from interior upholstery. Now it’s time to teach consumers what that can mean for them. For buyers, the education starts at AmericasMart, where a number of top vendors sell product in which the outdoor fabric is a big attraction.

lloydflanders

Lloyd Flanders Industries

Characteristics That Matter Lou Rosebrock, senior vice president Sales and Marketing at Lloyd Flanders, suggests buyers should lean heavily toward the most established brands, which includes Sunbrella, Al Fresco and Outdura. “These brands have been produced to offer outdoor customers all the important characteristics, such as durability, light fastness and resistance to mold and mildew,” he says.

Not every fabric marketed as outdoor-safe actually has those characteristics. Susan Ray of Summer Classics says UV protection is particularly crucial. All of its outdoor upholstery is UV-treated Sunbrella fabric. “Sunlight can be so damaging,” says Ray. “But with UV-resistant fabrics, you can put a navy sofa under a window and it doesn’t fade.”

castelle2

Castelle

Steve Lowsky, president and CEO of Pride Family Brands, Inc., says there are other performance features buyers should ask about. “Outdoor furniture buyers need to look for durability, stain resistance, abrasion resistance and colorfast qualities,” says Lowsky, whose company produces Castelle outdoor furniture. “Buyers and designers also should take into consideration the depth of original designs and original textures and weaves available to meet the needs of their clientele.”

Learn the Lingo
Gather as much technical information as possible, because much of it can be used to sell customers on a piece or collection of outdoor furniture and accessories. Lowsky suggests asking vendors about the construction of the fabrics, including what type of fiber used. It could be  acrylic, polyester, olefin or polypropylene. He also recommends asking about colorfast hours or abrasion rubs, two characteristics that speak to durability.

summer-classics

Summer Classics

“Knowledge of the differing types of performance fabrics will allow the buyer to design the total furnishing piece or set to meet the requirements of the client’s outdoor space or use plan,” says Lowsky.

Even the terminology, says Rosebrock, can be a useful selling tool. “Many manufacturers that have created fabrics for outdoor use are now marketing their products as ‘performance’ fabrics,” he says. “Any consumer who selects this type of fabric for a high-use area can expect a durable, easily cleaned product.” In fact, homeowners with small children and those with pets are a growing market for furniture with outdoor or “performance” fabrics.

“Outdoor or performance fabrics are perfect for inside,” says Rosebrock. “The durability and cleanability can greatly extend the life of indoor upholstery. And outdoor fabric manufacturers now offer patterns, textures and color palettes in many sophisticated choices.”

lloydflanders2

Lloyd Flanders Industries

“The tremendous growth in designs, colors, hand or woven styles allow for exterior fabrics to coordinate with interior décor as easily as interior focused textiles,” Lowsky adds.

Bottom line: outdoor fabrics are so soft and fashion-forward now that guests won’t have a clue it could withstand sun and rain. As long as you’ve properly educated your customers on the performance and durability, that can be your little secret.


For more information: Castelle – castelleluxury.com; Lloyd Flanders – lloydflanders.com; and Summer Classicssummerclassics.com

Images courtesy of Pride Family Brands, Lloyd Flanders and Summer Classics.

Holiday Decorating Tips

For most retailers and designers it’s definitely looking a lot like Christmas. 

How can buyers make the most of seasonal décor? We asked the decorators extraordinaire at Studio M  Executive Vice President and General Manager Tammy Hickel, Senior Director of Product Development Anne Brown and Marketing Coordinator Maura Lodes  for their tips for making the season and the upcoming Market merry and bright. 

What trend are you most excited about for Holiday 2016?

holidaytrends-merrimentartplanters_studiom_rgb Holiday décor for 2016 features lots of black, white and red color schemes and has a classic, homespun feel that we just love. Popular nubby knits, burlap and muslin give a warm, relaxed feel that’s perfect for the holidays. The red-and-white ticking stripe and large-scale buffalo check seen throughout this year’s holiday décor provide a nice pop of pattern. We’re really excited about all of the natural elements like birch, pinecones and antlers that are being woven into holiday décor for 2016. These characteristics can be seen throughout Nordic, woodland and forest themes that are very trendy this winter.

What are your tips for customers decorating their homes?

unexpectedholidaydecor-gypsygarden_studiom_rgbOur advice is to create something unexpected. The holidays are all about that sense of wonderment and joy, and your décor can reflect that. Decorate in unexpected places — put a small Christmas tree in your child’s room, add a fun holiday pillow to the bed in your guest room, or brighten up the space above your kitchen cabinets with Christmas decorations. Think of the areas in your house that you may not always pay attention to, and add a little something there for the holidays.

For outdoor holiday decorating, think of ways to create a welcoming front door statement that reflects your personality and is seasonally relevant. Many people are looking for outdoor décor to accomplish this goal, and that’s a huge reason why we’ve expanded our seasonal flag collections to include Art Planters, Art Poles and other outdoor décor. We encourage people to think beyond just lights and candy canes. There are so many unique ways to decorate — festive Art Planters and a coordinating MatMate at the front door, a holiday terrarium full of colorful mini garden items as a centerpiece — think outside the box!

What are your tips for retailers decorating their stores?

retailertips-gifts-to-go_artpots_studiom_rgbCreative merchandising is key to generating sales. Shoppers can’t resist stopping to “ooh” and “ahh” at a clever display. Welcoming seasonal décor and an attractive display in a window will draw people in, giving them an opportunity to see everything your store has to offer. That doesn’t mean you have to spend big bucks on extra holiday decorations — use as much product as possible to decorate your store. For example, use monogram garden flags to spell out a festive message like “Let it snow” or “Ho Ho Ho.” This way, your store showcases its own merchandise and helps to decorate it at the same time!

Another great way to approach a display is to use your products to tell a color story. Pull everyday red or green products into a Christmas display — they’ll fit right in and feel more like a holiday item when surrounded by seasonal products. Don’t underestimate the power of a little holiday ribbon to turn everyday items into Christmas gifts.

Special Tip: Many plain red and green items can move forward into Valentine’s and St. Patrick’s Day displays, giving those products a longer life.

holidaytrends-winterpalette_studiom_rgbWe also advise retailers to make shopping as easy as possible for their customers. Create pre-wrapped gifts-to-go for different recipients – mom, dad, friend, hostess, etc. Think about all the unique items you have in your store and turn them into containers to hold additional product. We find that our 6-inch Art Pots are great to fill with holiday gourmet treats or unique personal care items. Not only are gifts-to-go convenient for shoppers, they’re also a great way to increase the average sale for the retailer. Set some by the register or checkout area for those last-minute impulse buys.

Special Tip: Another great way to increase sales and help shoppers find great gifts is to create a “Staff Favorite” or “Item of the Week” that can be promoted and suggested by staff.

What trends do you see emerging for Holiday 2017?

Next year’s holiday trends will be somewhat of a derivative of 2016, but with lots of white-on-white and green-and-white color schemes. Textural elements will prevail and homespun, cozy-cabin themes will expand, but in a cleaner, more refined way — kind of a mid-century-modern-meets-cabin look. We’ll see more woodland animal elements like antlers and snowy owls as the wise, nocturnal birds continue to be a strong trend.

holidaytrends-shoplocalThe shop local movement will continue to have a large influence on trends for 2017. City and state pride will remain a popular theme in both décor and gift items, as communities’ support for independent retailers grows. We don’t want to give too much away, but retailers can expect to see some state-themed products from Studio M at summer markets in 2017!

The farm-to-table movement is picking up steam and the desire to grow food at home is increasing. As more people spend time in their outdoor spaces and learn about gardening, gifts for gardeners will become a big part of the holidays for 2017. These can range from decorative gifts such as mini garden items or a festive Art Planter to functional products like a birdhouse or birdbath.

 What are your Market shopping tips?

newproducts-kaleidoscopemobiles_studiom_rgbOur biggest tip for retailers is to come to market with a Buying Plan. Take stock of all your current inventory and future needs. Then determine your budget by deciding how much product you need to buy to reach your target sales volume for the season. Identify every product category that you need in order to drive business in your store, and then allocate dollars to each area. This will ensure that you are purchasing the right mix of products for your store and save you from buying too much of one category and too little of another. Make sure to hold back some reserve dollars for hot new items or product categories you find at market that weren’t in your plan. Your Buying Plan will be a huge help in figuring out when you’ve purchased enough of each category and make it easy to see what areas still need to be filled in.

Special Tip: Ask vendors if they have any best-seller lists that they can show you. While best sellers do not work in every region or store, they can be a good place to start!

Do some research before market and decide which vendors you’d like to visit. Look through trade publications and the Market Magazine to see what catches your eye and make a list of vendors you can’t miss. Once you have your list, map out a schedule of when to visit each showroom. Don’t forget to leave time to look for new items or to stop by vendors that weren’t on your initial list. When making your schedule, plan to get your essential items first. There will be lots to see and you don’t want to get distracted by too many new products and leave market without ordering the necessities.

Special Tip: Take advantage of showrooms like OneCoast that open early in the morning and close late in the evening. This way, you can visit more vendors per day.

newproducts-cambriaartplanters_studiom_rgbAnother thing many retailers find very helpful is working with their local rep whenever possible. Reps know the product well and are a great source of information. They can tell you what has been selling well in your area and help you make better-informed purchasing decision to help round out your offering. They also may be aware of special incentives being offered on products.

Special Tip: Schedule your showroom visits by floor so you don’t waste any time waiting for the elevator in order to go up and down the building throughout the day.

You’re going to see some amazing merchandising ideas and unique ways to display product as you make your way through the mart. Bring a camera to photograph anything that inspires you or that you may want to replicate in your store. Not every vendor allows photos to be taken, so make sure to ask permission first. At Studio M, we love when retailers take photographs! While flattering, it is one of the biggest reasons we spend so much time planning out and creating our displays, We want retailers to get inspired and take ideas home that will help them be more successful.

We hope these tips ensure that you have a smooth and successful market! Stop by and see Studio M at our main showroom in The Gardens (9-B-84, Bldg. 2) or in the OneCoast showroom on the 18th floor of Building 2.

In addition to our five floors of Holiday and Floral merchandise in Building 1, retailers and designers can also find holiday merchandise in The Gardens®. Shop the collection at The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market, January 10 – 17, 2017, and use our Market Plan to create your budget and plan your visit.

Images courtesy of Studio M.

The Great Outdoors

Consumers are spending for casual living options

Open any shelter magazine or turn on any home improvement show, and you’ll find talk about outdoor spaces. Whether it’s a prospective home buyer looking for the perfect backyard barbecue, a flipper adding some curb appeal or a designer creating usable recreation space for a growing family, Americans are spending more time—and more money—outdoors. Home builders and architects agree, as they face an ever-increasing demand for outdoor rooms and outdoor spaces for entertaining and recreation. Outdoor features are included in nine out of 10 newly constructed homes.

Outdoor FurnitureAs the demand for outdoor living grows, outdoor furniture sales continue to rise. Backed by rebounding home sales, low mortgage rates and rising consumer confidence, 2015 sales were projected to bring in an estimated $6.8 billion dollars, up 4.5 percent from 2014.

Dining sets continue to lead outdoor furniture sales, topping $2 billion last year and accounting for 48 percent of the market share. According to last year’s Casual Living’s Consumer Buying Trends Survey, 4.7 million households said they planned to purchase an outdoor dining set in 2015, with most spending between $100 and $399 for a set. While the majority of consumers look to home improvement centers and discount department stores when purchasing dining sets, furniture stores are seeing a marked increase in sales.

By ProductOne of the fastest growing segments in outdoor furniture is conversation or chat groups—akin to living room furniture for the outdoors—which may include a combination of chairs, love seats, ottomans and occasional tables, with some sets including fire pits. Households with incomes of $150,000 or more are the chief buyers of chat groups, and they are looking for high style and smart design.

Shade products are also experiencing substantial growth. Modern, movable and repositionable options allow for more comfortable outdoor experiences, while also protecting furniture from the harsh rays of the sun. Umbrellas, shade sails, gazebos and other shade items account for nearly $600 million in sales.

Garden oasis every day
Comfort and style shouldn’t be reserved for indoor rooms. Consumers’ continued desire for the same comfort and style outdoors as they demand inside is driving an industry to evolve and grow. As designers and retailers, you can capitalize on that concept year round by shopping The Gardens® floors at AmericasMart both during Markets and in between.

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There’s unlimited potential for home stores, hardware stores, garden centers, even gift stores to capitalize on the popularity of outdoor living. Think of all the potential customers. Families want to enjoy their decks. Empty nesters want a cozy porch to relax. And new homeowners are eager to build their own nest, complete with versatile outdoor entertaining spaces. Whether it’s furnishing a pool house, finding the perfect comfy chairs for a front porch, using a water feature to add life to a space, or building the perfect evening seating group around an outdoor fire pit, there are product lines at AmericasMart to please any client.

Floors 9 and 10 in Building 2 encompass 170,000 square feet of unique space that feature leading casual lifestyles and gardens companies in a one-of-a-kind outdoor living environment. The floor configuration and product mix encourages shopping for an array of high quality visual displays in a relaxed, vibrant atmosphere. During Markets, the floors provide inspiration down each pathway. And the opportunity is
available every day: Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The Gardens® staff is always ready to help you find exactly what you need to place orders between Markets.


To learn more, attend What’s in? Going out! Trends for the Ultimate Outdoor Living Spaces presented by Modern Luxury Interiors Atlanta during Fall Design Week featuring Atlanta Gourmet & Gift, September 19 – 23, 2016. Educational Sponsor: Olliix.

For more information on The Gardens® Open Daily opportunities, visit AmericasMart.com or call 404.220.2030 to personally speak with a showroom manager.

Images provided by Windham Enterprises, Summer Classics, RATANA and Castelle.

On the Bright Side

It’s a virtual rainbow outdoors with a full spectrum bringing flashes of vivid color to every aspect of the garden. The coming season of product promises to enlighten and enliven any outdoor space with bold color.

Outside the Lines

The modern American backyard is better than ever

Intro section image A-2Between staycations and everyday hustle and bustle, people are savoring the time they get to spend at home. The idea of entertaining friends and enjoying family time extends from bigger kitchens to home theaters to outdoor rooms.

A broader array of products and materials that are more durable – and more stylish – in a wide range of price points, makes it possible for anyone to extend living space into the backyard and do more than just sit in a lawn chair or nap in a hammock.

Outdoor kitchens rival inside counterparts with built-in grills and side burners, refrigerators and large stone countertops. Dining areas can be casual or sophisticated, depending the style of the home and the homeowners. Start with some basic questions to help guide the best options to create the ideal outdoor living space.

  1. How will the space be used? Dining, playing, relaxing or something else. Determining your top priority drives the initial emphasis, especially if the project is done in phases.
  2. How much sun? This dictates the need for umbrellas, gazebos, sunshades, etc. Should they be portable or permanent structures?
  3. Do you have adequate power resources? All the weather proof lamps are fabulous, but you still need power. Same for most water features. But, there are always lots of solar powered options too.
  4. Do you need weatherproof or weather resistant? Learn how fabrics are constructed so you have realistic expectations. The same goes for other products. Withstanding 10 hours of sun and 100 degree temps or eight months of freezing ice and snow will do a number on almost any outdoor product.
  5. A family with small children will obviously have different priorities than empty nesters reviving a love of gardening. Finding the right furniture and accessories to suit their needs will bring smiles year around when they find they’d prefer spending their leisure time at home, in their own backyard.

tab section image A-2 A fire pit provides a comfortable place to dry off after a summer swim or stay warm and roast a few marshmallows in the fall.

 

intro section image B-2 A round dining set with a built-in Lazy Susan and a neutral umbrella provides an elegant, stylish outdoor eating area.

 

 

tab section image C-2Everyone can’t have a backyard pool, but anyone can create a cozy seating area with comfortable chairs.

 
Find all the outdoor living products you need for any season in The Gardens, Building 2, Floors 9 & 10, during Markets and weekdays between Markets. There’s always a helpful staff member ready to help you find the perfect pieces for your casual living project.

 

 

Photo credits: Kipp Burgoyne Photography

Interior Design: Michelle Troxell, Grace Thomas Designs

gracethomasdesigns.com

Editorial credit: Casual Living

Fire It Up This Fall

According to the 2011 Residential Trends survey from the American Society of Landscape Architects, homeowners want functional items that provide them the opportunity to enjoy their backyard as they would any other room in the home. Along with lighting, stereos and Internet access, fire pits were one of the highest ranked items on the list.

Fire pits come in many variations including table-top, wood-burning and gas-powered and can offer the chance to warm your hands (or your food) with your guests.

The Gardens has several showrooms offering both gas and wood-burning fire pits in a variety of styles, sizes and shapes.

For more information, please visit Floors 9 and 10 in Building 2 WestWing, Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. or call our general help-line at 404-220-2030.