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CITY Furniture Doubles Down on Accents & Rugs, Continues to Grow Category in Latest Store Concept

RugNews.com, in exclusive interviews with CEO Andrew Koenig and merchandise director Jillian Bailey, finds out that home accents and area rugs are driving sales at the Florida retailer, which is not only aggressively expanding the category but rolling out an updated store concept.

Lisa Vincenti
merchandising director Jillian Bailey and the City Furniture marketplace
Jillian Bailey, CITY Furniture's director of merchandising, home accents buyer, is bullish on home accents and area rugs.

TAMARAC, Fla. -- Florida home furnishings retailer CITY Furniture is expanding its reach in Florida with plans to open its largest showroom to date, in Plant City, near Tampa, this fall. Not only is the soon-to-open home furnishings location the company's largest -- topping out at around 160,000 square feet -- it also represents the family-run business' steady evolution toward a "destination concept." And within that fresh approach, area rugs will get increased attention.

Founded in 1971 as Waterbed City and reinvented as City Furniture in 1994, today the business operates 22 showrooms in locations including Miami and Vero Beach and is helmed by Chairman Keith Koenig and his son Andrew Koenig, CEO. In addition, the Florida home retailer also operates 14 Ashley Home Stores as the brand’s Southeast and Southwest Florida licensee. The company's revenues have jumped in recent years and the latest industry figures see revenues of more than $760 million and that top line is expected to continue to rise as CITY continues adding new locations and tinkering with its format.

"Amid the COVID-19 crisis, we have continued to see increases within the rug sector as strong growth in home renovations and sales of newly constructed residences have continued to flourish throughout Florida,” Andrew Koenig told RugNews.com. “With higher demand for rugs, we are committed to propelling our Home Accent division [which includes areas rugs] to ensure we are able to get our customers the looks they love, at the prices they can afford, at the time they want them.”

Founded by Kevin Koenig, right, in 1994, CITY Furniture today is helmed by Koenig and his son, Andrew.

In fact, the Tampa-area concept store will feature not only CITY's home accents Marketplace, currently available at eight locations and rolled out about five years ago, but will also introduce a new CITY Furniture shopping experience.

RugNews.com goes behind the scenes to find out what's new and digs into how area rugs fit into the retailer's merchandising approach. We sit down with Jillian Bailey, director of merchandising, home accents buyer, who joined the company in 2018. Below Bailey share CITY's overall retail strategy, what's different at the 2022 store concept and drills down on how area rugs fit into that approach.

Private label area rugs are featured throughout CITY Furniture's 22 locations in both furniture vignettes and marketplaces.

As director of home accents and styling, what are your main responsibilities?

JB: I lead the selection, marketing, and development of all home accent product for sale in our stores. This includes all the aesthetic components used to make a space more attractive and visually appealing: furniture, artwork, houseplants, accessories, etc. Rugs are a huge part of that as they are often what is needed to fully “complete a space.”

Where is your store's growth coming from in terms product category?

JB: The home accent categories continue to be a main driver of growth for our business! Accent furniture, wall décor, and lighting are the highest YOY performers. Rugs however continue to experience double-digit growth and are amongst the highest volume home accent categories.

Home accents and area rugs are CITY's highest YOY performers.

How important are accents and area rugs to your revenues?

JB: Area rugs are a key component to our home accent business. About five years ago we changed our merchandising strategy for our home accent categories (inclusive of area rugs), to a direct supply chain. Through this change we have been able to develop on-trend products specifically for our customers, at the prices they want, all while improving our quality standards. It has been a game changer for our business!

How do your consumers want to shop for area rugs?

JB: We have two avenues to inspire our customers while shopping rugs. Firstly, we merchandise our main line collections throughout our showroom floor with coordinating rug collections, to show trends, materials, and colors that complement and accessorize that given product. Secondly, we display our full rug assortment in a gallery setting, within our CITY Marketplace. While we always encourage customers to check out our offering online, and explore design ideas digitally, there is nothing quite like seeing the rugs in person, feeling the quality and texture, and visualizing it in your home.

CITY Furniture introduced its CITY Marketplace, a store within a store concept for home accessories, five years ago
and is aggressively growing the concept for its soon-to-open Tampa-area showroom

What is your merchandising strategy for area rugs? What range of constructions and price points do you offer?

JB: We are passionate about providing on trend styles, at the best values, to our customers. We carry all ranges of constructions and materials in our assortment. While our price points are entry to mid-level, they are not “entry-level quality.’ We have developed meaningful relationships with our manufacturers to ensure our goods are of the highest quality and condition! A majority of our offerings can only be found at CITY.

Do you feature national rug brands in your stores?

JB: We don’t buy popular rug brands; our line is almost exclusively composed of CITY products.

What are your store's growth plans?

JB: We are growing rapidly! We will be expanding into the Tampa market, with new buildings serving multiple purposes, including a regional corporate office, showroom and distribution center. Upon its completion, the facility will become the largest warehouse and furniture store in Florida, and CITY’s largest showroom ever [expected in late 2022].

We are aggressively expanding our home accent product line for the opening of our new Tampa showroom. Our Tampa store will follow our merchandising strategy, but we also will be testing new destination concepts to help improve the customer shopping experience for specific categories.

CITY Furniture's private label rugs are showcased throughout the showroom and in CITY Marketplace mini-galleries.

How do you set yourself apart from your competition?

JB: Our Generation 3 model showroom has been a main factor in setting us apart from our competition and improving our customer experience. In this model we feature our CITY Marketplace – which is our home accent store within our showroom. It includes a wine bar, outdoor galleries, custom galleries, and much more! Creating an omni channel experience for our customers through our showroom experience, online experience, and marketing channels, has been key to our success as well.

CITY Furniture's latest showroom locations include wine bar and cafe, outdoor galleries and more.

What advice do you have for rug manufacturers wanting to work with you?

JB: Visit our showrooms, spend time in our CITY Marketplace, review our online assortment, and then send an introduction. Our merchandising strategy and styles of product truly differentiate us from our competition. It is important to understand CITY’s strategies, to put together the most impactful presentation of offerings. We are always talking to rug manufacturers who have a quality product and wallet-friendly value proposition for our customers. We are always looking for new offerings to ensure we have what our customers want, so I encourage manufacturers to get to know CITY and reach out.

Area rugs at CITY Furniture are also displayed on hanging racks.

CITY Furniture's Marketplace has been a successful feature and future stores will expand the home accents and
rugs category.

The CITY Marketplace features home accessories and rugs and is full of inspiring lifestyle vignettes.
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