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Slone Brothers Furniture Builds Brand by Building a Better Shopping Experience

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Economic indicators for 2008 may have many retailers sitting back and hoping to weather the storm, but Michael Slone, vice president of Slone Brothers Furniture in Orlando, Florida, sees this as a year of opportunity. Working to build his brand – and his bottom line – while the competition sits on the sidelines, this retail warrior is partnering with design consultant Connie Post to turn his store into a magnet for female shoppers. “In today’s marketplace,” says Slone, “consumers choose the better shopping experience. We want our store to thrive by broadcasting an exceptional experience to everyone who passes by. After speaking with a number of architects and retail design specialists about how to achieve this, we chose Connie Post because she showed that she knows how to inspire female shoppers to buy.” “America’s Research Group tells us that 50% of a retailer’s brand equity is in the storefront,” relates Post. “So we began the redevelopment process by conducting a competitive analysis of other stores in the Slone Brothers service area. In this analysis, it’s important to look outside of the home furnishings category. You’re not just competing with other furniture stores, but with every other venue at which your customer can spend her money. This is especially true when the economy is down. “What we found was that the current storefront just doesn’t stand out. It’s a small building that sits close to the street, so it’s very easy for potential customers to just drive by without ever noticing. To solve this problem, we added a parapet that expands the building upward and extended the sides of the front façade to give the illusion of a wider space. Then, to create eye-catching curb appeal, we placed a hip, new logo above the entryway; added decorative metalwork; trimmed the landscaping with slate and cultured stone; and used lighting to enhance all of the new effects. “Once the storefront has persuaded the shopper to stop, park her car and step through your door, the interior has to pay off the promise of a superior shopping experience. We achieved this with a series of lifestyle galleries that place the emphasis on design ideas rather than room scenes. Overhead drum lighting leads the shopper along an aisle that flows through the store, inviting an exploration the ideas that are on display. Then, we set a design center right in the center of the selling space, offering a fabric swatch wall, rug rack and computerized, interactive furniture design system that allows her to turn inspirations into purchases. Finally, sensitive to all of our shopper’s needs and concerns, we included a hospitality area where she can enjoy refreshments and a play area to keep the kids entertained while she considers her options.” Currently under construction, the redesigned store is expected to start driving higher traffic and increased sales in the second quarter of 2008. “Throughout the development phase,” concludes Slone, “Connie and her team have embraced our inspirations, valued our ideas and been very sensitive to our budget concerns. It’s an interactive process in which their expertise transforms our thoughts and desires into concepts and designs that will build our brand by engaging our customers, allowing us to enjoy better sales now and in the future.” About The Connie Post Companies: Headquartered in Huntington, WV, The Connie Post Companies is the home furnishings industry’s leading retail design firm. Led by industry innovator Ms. Connie Post, this award-winning design consulting and project management firm works with retailers and manufacturers to create extraordinary selling spaces that are exciting, profitable and memorable. In addition, the firm’s Precision Millwork division produces custom walls, fixtures, signage and atmospherics for a wide range of projects. Visit The Connie Post Companies on the web at www.conniepost.com, or visit us in person at the High Point Market or the World Market Center in Las Vegas. To schedule an interview with Connie Post about this project or any other issues regarding store design and retail marketing, contact her via email at designteam@conniepost.com.

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