HIGH POINT — For two-store retailer Dunk & Bright, this week’s High Point Market was all about opportunity.
The Syracuse, N.Y.-based retailer was looking for values at familiar sources while scouting some former partners to see about picking up more products, but only if the price and style were right.
I got to walk with the retailer’s buyers for visits to Southern Motion and Jofran on Saturday. The contingent was led by Bill Flansburg, Dunk & Bright’s vice president, with buyers Keri Bannon, Kaeley Parker, Molly Holmes, Kay Nett and Cera Grosso. Flansburg explained that if the team sees something appealing, they’ll see where it goes.
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“Our open-to-buy doesn’t vary much market to market,” Flansburg said. “Business has been strong, so we’re fortunate that way. If we see something we like, we commit to it.”
So where are the opportunities at this show? “For us, opportunities are at the higher price points, medium-high. We’ve been able to align ourselves with some good vendors,” Flansburg said. “For us, custom order is half of our business, and we have six interior designers in store. You can buy a $1,000 sofa and have a designer come to your home.”
First stop: Southern Motion
The visits started a little after 1 p.m. with Bannon, the team’s upholstery buyer, and Parker visiting the Southern Motion showroom. Sales rep Sean McCabe took the group to the adjacent Fusion showroom and introduced the team to its new The Mix offerings of custom motion upholstery.
Since anything from Fusion would be new to the Dunk & Bright floor, Bannon asked how it would ship. McCabe answered that mixing Fusion and Southern Motion in containers wouldn’t be a problem.
Bannon also asked about the special-order capability of The Mix, which McCabe said includes nine frames and myriad fabric choices. While looking at one sectional, she noted “loose back, reversible cushions … awesome.”
Looking at a selection of sleepers, the team gravitated toward the memory foam choice. “You’re going to do most of your business in the memory foam,” McCabe agreed.
As Flansburg and the rest of the team joined the group and got up to speed, Flansburg asked about shipping times. McCabe said they’re four weeks out the door.
Walking through the main Southern Motion space, McCabe took the group to a set of sectionals with 43- and 44-inch seat backs that are available in 144 fabrics. Looking at one on the floor, Grosso said “I think this will sell.”
“I think it’s nice and comfortable. I feel nice and cradled,” added Holmes, after having a seat.
A similar sentiment is shared at sectionals with scoop seating. “It’s like memory foam. You sink in, but not too much,” said Grosso. Added Bannon, “I think this is my favorite so far.”
After Southern Motion, the team split up, with Flansburg and Holmes headed to Jofran while the rest visited Jackson Catnapper, where Flansburg told them to think of about six frames while looking. Nett and Grosso come back to Flansburg’s group after a little while, leaving Bannon and Parker at Jackson Catnapper.
Flansburg noted that Dunk & Bright had cut back on orders with Jofran in recent years and mostly did a warehouse program for accent chairs. This market, the team is looking at potentially expanding and adding some case pieces, with the hope of buying by the container. “The accent pieces are the cherry on the cake; the meat and potatoes are the case goods,” he said.
New York sales rep Andrew Masters met the team and began the tour in the accent area. As he quoted them prices and cubic meters in containers, Flansburg did some quick math and saw a few potential opportunities. A particular eye-catcher was a set of smaller swivel chairs in bold colors.
In dining, Grosso noted that Dunk & Bright needs a few more round tables, and a light-finished solid wood table with upholstered chairs was met with positive comments. “We’ve been selling more light finishes,” Flansburg commented. “Things have been trending lighter. We’ve been surprised.”
A little deeper in, tables and benches with reclaimed looks seemed to be possibilities, also a few bedroom suites and more than a few small accent tables that could be priced as doorbuster items.
As we left, Flansburg said there might be some interesting possibilities with Jofran’s offerings.
“I think we have definitely seen enough potential for containers,” he said. “For the price, style and fashion, we’re excited. It was a nice surprise. We haven’t taken a good look at them in the past three years.”