What happens when you have a lifestyle store just a town over from High Point, NC, where the largest home furnishings market takes place twice a year? Well, you not only expand your home accents store to include furniture and more, you enter the interior design side of the business as well. That’s how it’s gone for Cheri and Justin Lingafelt, the husband-and-wife team behind Accent Prone — how much do we love this name? — in Kernersville, NC.
The store, which has been a staple in the community for nine years, is made up of a “mishmosh,” of goods, says Cheri. It’s a shop where you can go buy a sofa and the artwork to go over it, or an outfit and jewelry for a night on the town. “We wanted it to be a lifestyle store that had a little bit of everything,” she notes. “We want our customers to come in often and pick up a little thing here and there.”
In selecting the merchandise that graces Accent Prone’s showroom, Cheri continues, she and Justin have gone back to their roots. “We had ties to furniture and jewelry,” she notes. The ties to the home furnishings industry come through her husband’s family, so creating wholesale relationships comes naturally. Cheri’s father was in the retail jewelry business, and he helped them to understand the retail side of the business. “My dad taught us how to open a business and get started,” she says.
Because one of the foundations of Accent Prone’s retail business model revolves around home furnishings the couple brings in at and after markets, the Lingafelts owns two warehouses in addition to the showroom, including one that’s open to the public. Warehouse sales feature home furnishings that are often priced below suggested retail, a draw for customers. The Accent Prone showroom itself, which looks a lot like a market showroom design-wise, says Cheri, features plenty of merchandised vignettes and a design center. While a segment of what Accent Prone sells in home furnishings focuses on “off the floor” market finds, there are also custom furnishings.
As fashion — whether personal or for the home — plays a role in all of the retailer’s merchandise, the couple spends a significant chunk of time at markets, including High Point, Atlanta, Las Vegas and New York. Being so entrenched in such a fashionable market, particularly on the home furnishings side, has also led to interior design opportunities.
It was a natural progression to add design to the Lingafelt’s portfolio. Accent Prone has a design center where customers can choose fabrics and other customizable options. “It wasn’t like we decided to step into design,” says Cheri. “Customers started coming into the store and asking us if we could decorate their houses. All of a sudden, we were being asked to do kitchens.” From there, the Lingafelts decided to flip a house. “After our house flip project, [the design business] really took off.”
Even though Accent Prone is now a design business too, Cheri said they still service other designers with market goods and retail discounts. Especially now, she adds, as supply chain issues have slowed deliveries, designers like to purchase market samples that can be delivered immediately. Cheri notes that hiring the right people has made this business possible. “You can’t grow if you don’t have people to help you,” she notes. Right now, Accent Prone has a retail manager, eight full-time employees in the store and two delivery people.
While it might add more to the Lingafelt’s already busy schedules, something the couple is really proud of is Accents of Kindness, their community give-back efforts. A percentage of every sale goes into the program fund. “Giving back is a huge part of our business,” says Cheri. When the funding goal is reached, Accent Prone accepts nominations to make over a space for a deserving person or family in the community. “This is a facet of our business that is so rewarding for us as we get to use design as a vehicle to bring joy to others,” she adds. “It’s so fulfilling to design a room and see the look on someone’s face when they see the transformation.”