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Sixty Home Furniture Stores And Growing

Furniture World Magazine


Many exciting new initiatives are in the works for Home Furniture.

Nancy is responsible for recruiting new dealers, facilitating their transition to the Home program, creating floor plans and store merchandise and coordinating all marketing events for the division.

Everyone enjoyed watching a fun interview of Nancy Paul and Bev Bell, part of the noontime News programming on CKCO-TV, Kitchener. They talked about colour trends, interior design techniques and some quite extraordinary "how-tos". For example, pride of place on set was a handsome, faux stone fireplace complete with mantel, that could be put together in 48 hours for $100 Canadian. Also featured in the very attractive room arrangement, was a great looking leather sofa and loveseat, area rug, lamps and wall hangings, everything available, of course, at all local Home Furniture stores! In a couple of weeks, another CKCO segment has been scheduled, this to expose Home’s latest offerings in dining room accoutrements.

Nancy, Home Furniture’s Marketing Manager, is adept at organizing public relations opportunities, working in this instance with Bev, Home’s talented interior designer. It’s part of the strategically conceptualized, stepped-up consumer exposure, all of which benefits Home Furniture’s 60 busy dealers across the country. Their first ever national print advertising thrust, in conjunction with Beauti-Tone paint, ran from September to November 2001. The ads were positioned in the country’s most popular shelter and women’s interest magazines, Canadian House & Home, Canadian Living and Style at Home, as well as other media outlets. Truck and store banners reinforced the company’s message.

An added hook, the ads carried attractive, attention-getting coupons that invited the reader to "Win up to $3,000 in furniture, plus up to $500 in paint" from Home. Response soared way above the ordinary for consumer publication driven mail-in contests.

Home Hardware Stores Limited has been successful from the corporate get-go back in 1964. A cooperative of dealer-owned and operated independent hardware, building supply and furniture stores under the Home Hardware, Home Building Centre, Home Hardware Building Centre and Home Furniture banners, the company today has grown to include more than 1,000 stores in every province and territory in Canada. The close family inter-relationship benefits everyone.

The 60 Home Furniture dealerships range from 8,000 to 35,000 square feet. They offer a really impressive array of home furnishings, appliances and décor items "to inspire the decorator in every family". Fully 50 percent of sales are custom orders. With more than 500 fabrics to chose from, dealers and their staff help customers select styles, colours and fabrics that suit their personal lifestyles. The concept, of course, is to develop a complete, one-stop shop for the consumer. They have no need to patronize any other outlet.

Morgan McCabe, Merchandise Manager, says, "We shop the world for furniture and it shows. And we’re doing more direct sourcing of niche and specialty products rather than using the assistance of middlemen. We have greater control and also save costs."

Recognizing that furniture alone does not make the room, they also carry an assortment of accessories, chenille throws, pillows, area rugs, lamps, vases, picture frames, silk plants and bedding to "pull together a coordinated look". Selected stores also offer a full line of Home Hardware’s exclusive Beauti-Tone paints.

A very important part of Home’s consumer reach is their own outstanding publications. The "Home at Home" magazine is printed quarterly as a consumer vehicle and a value-add for shopping at Home Hardware. It’s full of tips, advice, do-it-yourself projects, recipes and much more. Then there’s the catalogue, produced twice a year, "The Home of Great Interiors"; it features the latest in product lines, plus ideas for room settings. "Kitchen and Bath Projects" is a marvelous, glossy magazine, "concise, step by step instructions, for the D.I.Y.er", one of the best I’ve ever seen. The bi-annual Home Hardware catalogue is absolutely crammed with everything it takes to complete any and all projects. Irresistible coupons are included in many publications to add the conviction of affordability to the motivation to buy.

Nancy joined Home Furniture in June 2000 with the strong intent of creating new marketing initiatives. She had more than 20 years of sales and marketing experience behind her. Nancy was national sales manager for Kelly Services and in sales and promotion for both CHYM Radio and Television and CHCH-TV. In her "other life", Nancy is founder and CEO of Angel Associates, a home health care firm, inspired by her son Adam who tragically died at age 10, suffering from multiple disabilities. Angel Associates was established five years ago and now employs 20 people, including her daughter, Megan, who is also a serious student. The pretty 26-year-old acts as a model for several of Home’s ads and magazine covers, "in her spare time!"

A people person, Nancy knows "how to market a product, how to measure if something is working, how to make money for the dealer, how to mount a successful promotion. At Home, I work first with the concept, then determine where I want to go with it. I know there is a superb team behind me to work it through." Cindy Kilbey, Administrative Assistant, is part of that highly competent team. "My work at Home is a new dimension and the maturity factor, that I’ve been there and done that, helps me relate to the dealer."

Nancy is responsible for recruiting new dealers, facilitating their transition to the Home program, creating floor plans and store merchandise and coordinating all marketing events for the division. Nancy works with new dealers from start to finish when opening new locations. A native of Pembroke, Ontario, she recently had the great pleasure of assisting dealers Jim and Dan White, and celebrating their official ribbon cutting.

There are plans in the works to develop and implement a new Retail Sales Training Program. Ken Kelly, the Home family member from Huntsville, Ontario, thinks it’s a great idea. "We have a regular Friday morning staff meeting, part of it devoted to sales training issues. Two of our staff members have already completed a decorating course. Customers bring in their colour concepts, and we have Home Hardware’s paint colour chips on hand to help them achieve the look they want!"

Ken established his Huntsville location seven years ago, "and we’ve never looked back. Randy Jones, our store manager, was with me from the beginning. We have nine employees now, including my wife, Holly, and daughter, Rebecca. No one is on commission.

"We began with 5,000 square feet and have expanded to 14,200 square feet, with a lot of room settings to spark customers’ imaginations. Our business has tripled." He ascribes their success to a variety of factors and, high on the list, Homes’ great product lines and promotional assistance. "We always have new looks and fashion items and we would not have had access to them without Home. The advertising package is great. It certainly makes my life easier, and it brings customers through the door talking about the ads they’ve seen. Because of Home’s distribution speed and efficiency, there’s no time wasted when a consumer wants a product. And I don’t have to stock it. We’re one huge, integrated family!

"In addition to Home’s full advertising program, each store does its own thing. We advertise in the two local weekly newspapers, The Huntsville Forester and Almaguin News, once a month throughout the year. Before top holiday sales seasons we increase placements to once a week."

Huntsville is located in a beautiful "near North" resort and summer cottage region of Ontario. "During the winter, our population is 20,000 but in the summer it mushrooms to 100,000 fairly affluent consumers. Leather is growing for us and sales are really great for good looking rattan furniture."

During our visit to Home’s Elmira headquarters, Nancy talked about the terrible events of September 11th. "The first reaction here was shock, and business virtually ceased at Home for at least a week. But then things began to return to normal and, in the past weeks, have certainly not slowed down. People who don’t want to fly are putting extra cash into their homes so sales have been maintained, in fact, are increasing over last year. Consumers will now buy that sofa, the rug, furnish the family room. We’re centering ourselves around our families and homes."

Plans for the future? An energetic Virgo, Nancy said, "During the year 2000, seven new stores were added in Peterborough, Haliburton, St. Isodore, Lab City and Goose Bay in Labrador, Niagara Falls and La Crete, Alberta. In 2001, Timmins, Ontario and Middleton, Nova Scotia joined the family. Next year we hope to expand the dealer base by seven to 10 more across Canada."

Morgan McCabe added, "There are many exciting new initiatives in the works. We’re developing new store concepts and expanding our selection of unique products and brands. In the next year, as well as new stores, we expect to establish Beauti-Tone paint boutiques and exclusive GE store-within-a-store boutiques at participating locations."

Anywhere, anytime, there’s nothing more cheering than happy, smiling faces. If your spirits need a life, come visit the good folks at Home Furniture, Elmira, Ontario. Or 60 other locations across Canada. You’ll always find a warm, neighbourly welcome.