I read with interest Tom Russell’s article about how Century Furniture is managing high upholstery demand published in Home News Now and Decor News Now. Great article and photos about a good company.
But in the newsletter abstract (Decor News Now, May 11 issue), the paragraph notes Century’s efforts “to get product into the hands of retailers and designers.” I have been in the furniture industry long enough to remember when some showrooms posted “No Designers” near the door. For the most part, those days are gone.
However, one can still run into a showroom and be greeted with the question: “What are you?” I certainly know what they mean, but it’s quite rude. I now answer by saying, “First of all, I am a humanoid. By education, I am a designer (a term that can still carry a somewhat negative connotation). Also, yes, we are a retailer with two brick-and-mortar stores. And I can’t imagine how many clients we would retain if we asked that sort of question.”
“Are you a billionaire? A millionaire? Or just a regular Joe?”
A client would not be comfortable if they even suspected we were trying to qualify them. Our mantra is to treat everyone who walks through our doors exactly the same.
Which brings me back to that newsletter abstract. The dictionary defines a retailer as someone who “engages in the sale of commodities or goods in small quantities to ultimate consumers.” Other than our buyer’s badges that designate what we are for the convenience of the supplier, should the wording “retailer” or “designer” in media be updated to just “ buyer”?
This past High Point Market, I gained a new client in Greensboro, North Carolina, very late in the cycle and in the closing hours, I made one more trek into a familiar showroom. My rep had gone home. The initial reaction from the receptionist was to turn me away. But a quick call to my rep and, a few minutes later, this supplier came out of the market with one more nice-sized order from a retailer, a designer — and, above all, a buyer. You never know who it is who might make your day.
The retail chains may have a lot more cash in their coffers, but the color of money is all the same.
Michael Uvanni is the owner of Michael J. Uvanni Interiors in Rome, New York.