Thanksgiving Trade-Offs

This year, there is a certain desperation and uneasiness lingering about the Thanksgiving, which may be a good thing.    Retailers (and we are one of them, don't forget) are starting their sales pitches earlier than ever in an attempt to generate some enthusiasm for holiday spending.  We are all nervous about the shopping season because we know the smart people will be holding back on spending.  I personally have cut back on a number of little items, and I know our own Carolina Rustica customers certainly have.  So, we are sending out email offers like crazy (BTW, you can sign up here and I promise it is worth it) and trying to get our customers in the holiday (i.e. spending) spirit.

But as I said, maybe this uneasiness is in fact a good thing.  With folks holding back on purchases, and everyone reducing their holiday spending plans, we might have more time to concentrate on the important things, like visiting with family and friends, doing some charity work, self-improvement, whatever.  

I live far from my family and my wife's family, but we have a family of our own with 2 little energetic girls, and I know I will be spending as much time with them as possible.  Being the owner of a retail store, I don't get much of a break over Thanksgiving, but I do treasure the time I have with them.    Even though our business is very slow, I try to remember that it is in fact giving more people time to spend with their loved ones, so its not a bad thing.  Its a trade-off I'll take. 
(it would be nice to see SOME improvement sometime soon, though).

Happy Thanksgiving All!

Top Five Fashion Trends for Home by Lexington

Lexington Home Brands is one of our largest and most valued suppliers. They carry Tommy Bahama, Bob Timberlake, Trump Home, Liz Claiborne, Nautica and their own house brands.

Its a little self-serving (this blog is not a running advertisement for our store) but here are their Top Five Fashion Trends, posted to their blog on Oct. 15th.    

Fashions in home furnishings can change as often as trends in haute couture. In fact, the looks you see in fashion magazines often find their way to the home. Here are the top five fashion trends for fall, with corresponding Lexington Home Brands furniture that will help you dress up your interior design.

1. Autumn Hues
Purples, reds, greens and golds are perennial favorites for fall, but this year the colors are richer and more saturated. Deep golds glow against the wood frame in the Worth Wing Chair from Trump Home's Mar-a-Lago collection.

2. Return to the Classics
Crisp white shirts, tailored lines and fedoras are all the rage on the runway, recalling timeless design. Classic lines on Hancock Park's Melrose Buffet offer a fresh modern twist on traditional styling, while the Vine Mirror reflects a concave shaping.

3. Exotica
Fashion designers find inspiration from Moroccan bazaars to India's colorful markets for this key trend. The Indian influence is apparent in the exotic metal details on the Tortola Chest from Tommy Bahama Home's Kingstown collection. The chest is leather-wrapped and sprinkled with nailhead trim that resembles pearls strewn across a tabletop.

4. Florals and Stripes
There is something so fresh and appealing about this mix of patterns, with a little menswear look complemented by feminine touches. The blend trend is perfectly captured in the Abbott couch, shown here as a sneak peek into Lexington's newest collection Barclay Square. Available soon at retail, the sofa's media mix includes crocodile-embossed leather.

5. Gold Jewelry
Nothing glints like gold, particularly against fall's palette of deep colors. The custom-designed gold hardware softly gleams on the Berkeley Chest. Part of Lexington's soft-modern Zacara collection, Berkeley is uniquely fashion-forward with its stacked-box design

Negotiating Your Purchase

One of the national morning shows today had a piece on how to save money shopping for the holidays.  Hey, we all want to save money, right?  However, their advice was to negotiate every purchase, no matter where or in what context.

I can't tell you what a horrible idea that would be if people ever put it into practice.  There are commonly acceptable items to negotiate, we all know that.  Houses, automobiles, horses, furniture, etc.   Its part of the give-and-take of commerce and we all accept it.  As a retailer, I know customers are price-shopping and weighing out their final, total cost (I'll get to that part later).  

But it is pure folly to think that you should negotiate on absolutely everything.  Can you imagine the disaster you would create in the grocery store if you said "I'm not paying $4.00 for a gallon of milk.  Whats your best price?".  First of all, its a little inconsiderate to other customers in line behind you. Second of all, grocery stores operate on razor thin margins of 2-5%, and they are not responsible for price increases.

A better idea?  Clip coupons, take advantage of manufacturer rebates and shop on double or triple-coupon days.

Negotiating on everything you purchase has another effect, particularly with small businesses.   We are all just scraping by right now.  No retailer I know of is making excess profits...they simply can't, in this competative environment.   The internet has levelled out pricing for many items, and most of us are at the minimum allowable pricing allowed by our manufacturers.  Sure, we all have price match guarantees,  but for the most part we are charging the minimum we need to get by.   Driving down the price at your local retailer using the internet as a lever will eventually put that store out of business, and consolidate business to a few mega-retailers or mega-web-sites.   Then we have added to societal and economic cost of unemployment and a failed business. 

A better idea?  If you are really that price-sensitive, go to Craig's List, and outstanding resource for gently used (and sometimes new) items for the home.  

Negotiating on some purchases is perfectly fair, but on other items, the total cost may not be worth it at all...its always best to search out other avenues.  And remember, asking for a discount always goes better when you say the magic words. ..."please".

Revisiting the Blogosphere

Maintaining a useful blog that folks actually want to read is hard work, especially when your main business is selling furniture and lighting to in-store and online customers.  I am going to give it a try, again, and offer small bits of design advise that can be used in any capacity.   I will try not to make it one long advertisement for Carolina Rustica but obviously that is where most of my experience comes from.

My name is Richard Sexton, and I am the owner of aforementioned company.   I won't relate all of our company history, because you can just click this link to read it yourself on our site.  I will say, however, that after 13 years in the business, this is as tumultuous a time as I have ever experienced.   Companies that were once leaders in out industry are falling by the wayside, and there are many furniture and lighting retailers out there on very shaky ground.  I wouldn't say our ground is shaky, but it definitely has a few tremors.   We are all going to emerge from this with a new appreciation for our business and customers.