The title Furnitureland South, with an emphasis on land, is an apt one. The North Carolina establishment and self-proclaimed “world’s largest furnishings retailer” takes up a jaw-dropping 1.three million sq. ft, nearly 30 acres. At that dimension, it feels extra right to consult with it as a “land,” versus a “retailer.” Most shops don’t require week-long stays to browse.
In this episode of the Business of Home podcast, host Dennis Scully chats with Furnitureland South CEO Jeff Harris to listen to concerning the origins of the distinctive enterprise and what classes he’s realized alongside the best way.
Founded in 1969 by Harris’s father as a (comparatively) small furnishings retailer, the enterprise grew into the behemoth it is right this moment with the assistance of each Harris and his brother Jason, largely by a increase time within the 1990s that noticed the corporate get greater and greater, changing into the de facto native showroom for furnishings manufacturing manufacturers primarily based out of High Point. At the start of the last decade, Furnitureland was roughly a $12 million greenback enterprise—by the yr 2000, it was netting $178 million in revenues.
Despite a broader pattern in the direction of small, curated retail, Harris says Furnitureland South’s dimension is its power. Partially, the sheer novelty of being the most important furnishings retailer on the earth lends the corporate a form of intrigue. But Harris says it goes deeper than that: “I prefer to assume we’ve the most effective of each worlds. We have this superb emporium of product, and but we’ve these design consultants who’re all the time asking: ‘How can I simplify the method, how can I make this simple?’ [Clients] don’t need to spend per week. Even although they will!”
Listen to the episode and take a look at some takeaways under. If you want what you hear, subscribe to the podcast here. This episode was sponsored by Resource Furniture and Universal Furniture.
A year-round High Point?
Last month a variety of manufacturers introduced an initiative to maintain their High Point showrooms open year-round. Harris is towards it, for apparent aggressive causes (if furnishings manufacturers open up yr spherical, they’d be competing with Furnitureland for North Carolina gross sales). However, extra broadly, he’s skeptical that it could work. “We don’t assume that’s a viable resolution. It comes right down to funds and logistics. It prices money to workers these showrooms. It prices money to have logistics to assist, and then you definately’ve bought to simplify how on the earth it could all work,” he says. “Listen, we’re the biggest furnishings retailer on the earth and it’s powerful [for us] to buy market. I can’t think about a client attempting to navigate these halls.”
Great furnishings will all the time be bought in individual
To be clear, Furnitureland South does have an internet site, and one which Harris has spent appreciable time and money creating. However, essentially he’s doubtful that online gross sales will overtake in-person gross sales for his firm. “I simply don’t assume that many individuals are promoting the great things online,” he says. “At the top of the day, I consider that most individuals need to see the furnishings and speak with somebody who can guarantee them this is the best option to spend your money. It’s a really tactile product … We proceed to see that that shopper desires to speak to somebody at a minimal earlier than they click on and purchase.”
Catering to the commerce
Furnitureland is primarily a retail operation, promoting to most of the people. However, within the final yr its commerce program has shot up 40 %. That’s partially, says Harris, due to High Point not holding a spring market, that means designers didn’t all the time have handy entry to their favourite manufacturers. But he additionally says that through the years Furnitureland has finessed its designer enterprise to work with a wide range of pricing buildings (designers can both get commerce pricing or have purchasers purchase after which get a fee) so as to make the corporate a extra enticing proposition—in addition to sharing finest practices with their designer clientele. “We share with different designers what works and pitfalls to concentrate on,” he says. “We take possession and pleasure in having the ability to present these designers, Hey you ought to be making money together with your consumer. And we are able to present you what different individuals who do what you do, how they do it, and how they make money.”
Homepage picture courtesy of Furnitureland South