Coping with Coronavirus: Retailers, Designers & Manufacturers Share Business Insights

Retailers, interior designers and manufacturers are all dealing with a delayed High Point Market and business disruptions due to the coronavirus pandemic. Here they share some of their creative solutions for building business during this challenging turn of events. 

Diane Falvey
03/24/2020
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Retailers, Designers, Manufacturers respond to coronavirus
Retailers, Manufacturers and Designers share insights on keeping business afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

Coping with Coronavirus

 

While Coronavirus is currently causing a disruption for everyone in the home furnishings industry, at some point, it will subside, and life and businesses will return, homes will be built and renovated, and tired furnishings will be replaced. Creative solutions and tenacity will help our industry weather this storm so business can resume after what may seem like a forced hibernation. 

We asked home furnishings retailers, interior designers and manufacturers how they’re shoring up or modifying their businesses to weather Coronavirus. This story will be updated as we gain insights from additional retailers, designers and suppliers. 

If you’d like to share your creative solutions to an unprecedented business challenge, please take our survey here. We’d love to hear from you too! 


Retailers

Teddie Garrigan, Coco & Dash, Dallas, TX 

“We are small, tenacious and able to make adjustments quickly so we’ll take things one day at a time and do what is necessary during this time. We have cancelled events and closed the store to the public until we know it’s safe for our community to do otherwise. We’ve got good things going on, though, and we choose to view this disruption as an unwelcome inconvenience for Coco & Dash in light of the far more serious difficulties it may cause those who can’t retreat home and still make a living.

“We are continuing to work full steam in anticipation of the now postponed openings of our new in-house Coco & Dash Interiors design studio and our new Coco & Dash Custom bedding shop.

“We’re currently working with customers and clients by phone, email, video, DM, and text. We have accelerated the launch of our redesigned website with shopping capabilities and plan on having that up within a few days instead of a few months. 

“Our social media accounts, especially Instagram, are providing access to potential customers and clients and we are working to keep people inspired and moods elevated. We’ll be doing some give-a-ways and sharing decorating ideas and tips for staying in the moment. And, of course, always finding the humor. 

“We are taking care of our loved ones, our friends, and helping out in our community and we urge others to do the same. There are people who are experiencing immense anxiety — far greater than we are and with no resources. We ache for those who are trapped in fear.” 

 

Stephanie James, Allen & James, High Point, NC

“The cancellation of the High Point Market [in April], although a major event in our year, did not provide any major inconvenience with regard to the design business. All manufacturers offer online catalogs. We also are taking every precaution to be safe for our clients and wish them healthy safe environments.

“Our store is not closing. In fact, we are having people stop in to shop the store as they are home with children and enjoy getting out and shopping. Those who are nesting-in during this time are becoming more aware of their interiors and are coming in for new accessories, plants or elements to refresh their spaces. 

“This is a great time for smaller freshening up of interiors including the addition of art, plants and accessories. We are getting this message out via our social media including Instagram. Small changes can have a big impact in a time of uncertainty.  We also see that as people are home and life is slowing down, it is giving time to look around and grow more in-tune with their surroundings.

“For our design clients, with any projects we had in the works, they are continuing as planned.  What we are doing is reaching out to our clients and telling them we can work virtually if they do not want to leave their homes.  We are also doing curbside deliveries and pick-ups. 

“We are working on content for a newsletter featuring a variety of topics to keep the awareness of our services and expertise in design in front of clients and potential clients. We are also meeting with our marketing company to modify promotional activities reflective of the situation we are in. We are going to try to do online sales for specific products.

“This occurrence will shape our business although we are not worried and see it as a time to get our message out when people will pay attention. It is refreshing to have extra time to spend growing the business. Best ideas often come when times are slower.” 

Interior & Product Designers

Jason Oliver Nixon & John Loecke, Madcap Cottage, Thomasville, NC

“Our product-driven slice of the Madcap Cottage business is largely online so we are continuing to market our products and tell stories and engage audiences through social media channels. We are taking this time to push channels such as Facebook even more. We have also taken some time to freshen-up the Madcap Cottage website. Our interior-design projects continue at full gallop and we have been holding meetings with our local/North Carolina clients.

“We are always thinking up new ways to engage audiences and magnify the Madcap Cottage brand experience so nothing has changed on that front. We are planning to do more email marketing in the near future that is packed with lots of content and isn't just plugging new products. And there will be lots more colorful, informative videos, too.

“In the Great Depression, movie-goers wanted color and fun: Think Fred and Ginger dancing across the silver screen. The Madcap Cottage brand is built around the idea of sophisticated good fun, so we always deliver heaps of fun through our various channels — whether social media or the website or through our actual products and interior-design schemes. In this surreal time, we hope that new consumers discover our brand and our passion for always being optimistic and looking at life as a great big rollicking dinner party. We don't believe in fear, we believe in always pushing forward.”

Shayla Copas, Shayla Copas Interiors, Little Rock, AR

“The virus has had a huge impact on the logistics of design. For example, our shipments are arriving late due to fewer drivers, we have some suppliers that are completely shut down and we have many of our craftsmen that are not delivering product at the moment. We understand the situation and we pray for all who are continuing to work outside of the home during this challenging time. 

“We have decided to limit the number of trips out of the office each week and to combine our errands into one day a week instead of leaving the office multiple times each day. Our designers are also working from their homes as much as possible. Goto Meetings and Zoom help us to keep in touch. 

“To continue to help our clients during this time we are offering meetings via Zoom and Goto. We have always utilized these types of communication products so it has not been a huge change except that we utilize it more now than we used to.

“During the coronavirus outbreak,  we are working on a social media plan that looks a bit different than our norm. We are focusing more on ‘heart and home’ rather than design, and we hope to help keep spirits up as we all weather this storm. For example: We will start releasing stories with cooking ideas, coronavirus survival kit ideas and inspirational posts. We will release this content in a couple of weeks."

Dann Foley, Foley & Stinnette Interiors, Palm Springs, CA

“We have decided to close our offices for the time being. We each have system access from home. For both interior design clients and product design and sales we are working with our manufacturing partners on some innovative ways of presenting online and live-streaming. I am also talking to the major Markets about the same and hope to be a part of a larger push to keep product and information in front of buyers, designers and consumers alike.

“I have already begun to reach out to both present and former clients to discuss what they are seeing while staying home. In each case they are realizing an even more importance to ‘Home.’  We are already beginning conversations with some existing/past clients about ways of updating and expanding work we have completed and booting up work that may not have happened. The future looks bright. Stay calm, wash your hands and check on your neighbors.”

Sandra Asdourian, Sandra Asdourian Home, Naples FL

I’m continuing to promote my business on social media, writing my Interior Design Blog and through weekly newsletter emails with my current clients and subscribers. I sent a newsletter yesterday to my email list suggesting we work with them remotely for a “Designer for the Day,” including a sample mood board for inspiration. In my newsletter to my current clients and subscribers, I also offer design tips and advice. I ask clients to reach out to me if they are considering shopping online for home accessories or furnishings. With people working from home and staying inside they are going to start to see and feel the need to update their home. I predict that after this uncertain and emotional time the interior design business will soar.

 

 

Home Furnishings Manufacturers 

Brad Cates, COO, Sarreid Ltd.

“We are digitizing our market presentation and our offering overall. Our 2020 catalog is in its final stages of production and will launch digitally before it goes to print. We’re digitizing our market presentation and our offering overall. 

“We’re in a heavy stocking position, and we are maintaining our regular ordering pattern. We are making temporary adjustments to add to online retail distribution. We are also launching with Steelyard. We know we have to make a more aggressive online play. We’ve completely redesigned the website and we’ve seen a 1000 percent increase of new visitors to the site. 

“With our customers, we are being as supportive as we can. We want to overservice people. They need a friendly voice. We’re also working on some sales promotions for older inventory. New products, as they arrive, are being communicated through eblasts and direct communication.

“Sarreid is and always will be a family business. The company will support its staff,  to the best of its ability, through this crisis.”

Jeremy Hoff, President, Hooker Furniture

Hooker Furniture will continue to fully serve our customers during this challenging time. We have strong inventory levels of Hooker Furniture case goods and upholstery products in our domestic warehouses in Virginia and are also able to service our customers through our domestic upholstery operations at Bradington-Young and Sam Moore in North Carolina and Virginia. 

“Amid a lot of uncertainty, one thing is for certain: For years we’ve been a company our employees and customers can count on. We have taken several steps to ensure the health and safety of our teams, while continuing to service our business partners in the industry. Be assured you can count on us now. While it is our hope that High Point Market will happen in June, we are prepared with an alternative plan to bring these great products to market virtually through a variety of initiatives including additional product photography, video presentations, digital sales tools, 360-degree virtual showroom tours and more.

“Together, we’ll come through this stronger than ever before.” 

 

Stephen Chen, President, MLILY USA

“MLILY USA is committed to serving and supporting our customers and our employees. Our factory in South Carolina is running at normal capacity, and our warehouses are stocked with product to assure our customers have all the inventory they need without delay. 

“We’ve taken steps to assure  the safety and well-being of our employees and their families. For example, for those employees where it is feasible, we converted  to a work-from-home model. For our logistics, production, warehousing and customer service teams, we are adhering to the CDC recommendations and providing additional spacing between workspaces to reduce contact.

“To help alleviate some of the pinch points that a situation like this brings to  retailers, we have established direct communication for any of our retailers to reach out to me should they need assistance with product, extended payment terms or other issues. Our team has always viewed our retailers as strong partners, and we’re committed to working through this challenging period with them and making the situation as pain-free as possible.

“We’ll miss the High Point Market [in April] and the direct contact with our industry partners and friends. However, we are continuing conversations with our distributors and retailers to assess their product and marketing needs, most of which were communicated, met and addressed at the Winter Las Vegas Market.” 

 

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