Notes from the “operations side” of retailing at Selden’s Home Furnishings.
Since 1940, the Selden family has enjoyed a reputation for excellence as the home furnishings destination center in the Tacoma area, with clients throughout the State of Washington and vacation residents from Sun Valley Idaho to Arizona. Scott Selden is the grandson of founder Syd Selden.
Selden’s Home Furnishings and Thomasville Home Furnishings showrooms share one building and their Bassett Furniture Direct showroom opened in Fall 2000 immediately north along Interstate 5. The consolidated site and a central distribution center adjacent to the Bassett showroom set the stage for future growth.
Many years ago a mentor told me to "Plan your work and work your plan." Selden’s is living proof of that statement. After thorough deliberation, Thomasville Home Furnishings was added in 1997 and planning for another retail operation started about the same time. That required the purchase of five additional properties and detailed planning started in the summer of 1999 for construction in Spring 2000. We spent two days in a team effort with their architect to determine warehouse and delivery support requirements and similar efforts were undertaken with Bassett Furniture for the retail showroom. Refinements in the design were accomplished over the next six months.
The existing Selden’s and Thomasville facility has 76,000 total square feet with 19,000 square feet of warehouse and support capacity. This relationship of warehouse space to showroom was only possible because more than 80% of sales were special order. Part of the expansion plan strategy was that the 25,000 square foot Bassett Furniture Direct showroom would have key groupings available for immediate delivery.
The site presented unique challenges due to subsoil conditions, underground utility easements and truck access. Those issues were addressed with an L-shaped 37,000 square foot distribution center wrapping the showroom to the North and East while maintaining Interstate 5 visibility and total visual site continuity. The walls were poured on site and tilted up over a three week period in May. Actual construction took approximately six months. Existing furniture and carpet racks were moved to the new building and supplemented with quality used racks. The effective storage height is almost 29 feet. Trash and corrugated handling is simplified with two compactors. Order processing and bar code warehouse management systems are by GERS.
Customers consistently point out two operations reasons for buying from Selden’s. They are the quality of preparation prior to delivery and the actual delivery. Selden’s quality people are one key ingredient to both. From a facility standpoint, quality preparation is made easier by the furniture technician work area design and adequate staging areas. A state of the art spray booth adds factory quality capability when needed. Delivery is all accomplished by Selden’s own friendly employees in trucks carrying their advertising message.
In reviewing the project with Scott Selden, he offered some solid tips to other retailers planning expansions. The first is to bring on planned staff additions earlier to assist in the move and dedicate certain individuals to the moving plan. The second is to clean up the inventory long before the move. Why move obsolete or non-saleable merchandise? Dedicate a crew with a tractor and trailers to move merchandise to the new warehouse. That is much easier than having tired crews make the move after a full day of deliveries. His final tip is to maintain the vision of why you are expanding in the first place... customers. It takes extra effort and flexibility to handle the challenges of transition but losing control during this critical time is not acceptable!
Selden’s overall project planning and use of experts to supplement internal skills were also important elements for their success.
With the new facility completed, attention is turning to using the warehouse space made available in the original building. Changes will include a clearance area and additional office support capabilities.
Daniel Bolger of The Bolger Group helps companies achieve improved transportation, warehousing and logistics. Questions can be directed to Mr. Bolger care of FURNITURE WORLD at firstname.lastname@example.org.