An exclusive look at Robb & Stucky's newest store in Naples.
There are furniture stores and there are furniture stores. This makes everything else pale in comparison. You can have your mega sounding stores, and your super mega sounding stores. But nothing prepares you for the magnificence that slams you in the heart and the soul as does Robb & Stucky's newest venture into expanding the way home furnishings presents their products and services to the public. From the magnificent landscaping to the tall Palm trees standing as sentinels welcoming you into something very specialto the beautiful entry, where you gasp at the grandeur that unfolds as you come into the store. The centerpiece of the complex is the atrium from its hub, all of the spokes of the home furnishings universe explode into some of the finest displays seen anywhere, in any type of store. This is truly beyond normal vision.
In the atrium customers gasp as they turn to see the overwhelming size. If they walk up the grand staircase, they will enter a full service design studio housing Florida's largest design staff. Going in the other direction up the stairs, you enter one of the largest floor covering departments in the nation, with hundreds of hand made rugs, a Karastan Gallery of Design, tile and floor coverings of every type imaginable. Beyond, are individual display consultation rooms where literally thousands of fabric samples are available to any customer willing to invest in a once-in-a-lifetime dream of colors and textures.
Going back down the staircase, you get a sense of the air space that envelops you as you know you are part of something very special and magnificent. The first thought that comes to mind is that "they allow people to come in here and shop... amazing!" This isn't an atrium, it is a grand salon that whisks you into a world of imagination and delight.
From the atrium, you can proceed in any direction to find your fill of the finest home furnishings in the world, from the Robb & Stucky trademark "Ralph Lauren" Polo display to unbelievable displays of beautiful dining room, bedrooms, sofas, loveseats, chairs, sectionals, mixed and matched to showcase the excitement of accessorization and panache you would come to expect from one of America's leading home furnishings stores.
In the center of this 85,000 sq. ft of home furnishings delight, is the café, which is part of every Robb & Stucky store. Serving gourmet coffees and their famed lemonade, along with fresh baked cookies, it is a certain stop for nearly every shopper who comes into this Temple of Treat.
The world that has now captured you has transported you into a trip of fancy. Being that you have never seen anything like it before... you are constantly amazed at every turn.
But how did this happen in such a short period of time?
The secret is that this tremendous structure was built around their existing store... or at least, part of the existing store. The 35,000 sq. ft of expansion addressed the entire exterior and a heavy portion of the interior. Even to the most seasoned veteran of this store, nobody can honestly tell you what is old and what is new. The expansion effort was just that good.
Mix the Robb & Stucky magic of display, friendly and courteous staff and an exceptionally well-educated and knowledgeable sales staff, you have the basic ingredients for one of America's most successful retail stories of the past twenty years.
Twenty years ago, a young South African came with his wife and two children and settled in Fort Myers, FL. There he purchased a small furniture store, with sofas lined up, back to back, as was custom in the old days. Like his father before him, Clive Lubner took the meager parts that he had, and built it into what is today one of the fastest growing home furnishings organizations in the world. Robb & Stucky, with stores in Fort Myers, Naples, Sarasota, Clearwater, Altamonte Springs (Orlando) and Scottsdale, AZ, is truly in a class by itself. And now, Lubner has set a new bar for excellence in retail for all to try to meet.
Today, what Crate & Barrel is to housewares, or Nordstrom is to shoes Robb & Stucky is to home furnishings. But maybe better.
Here is an American success story. And in Naples, FL, you have one of the greatest examples of an industry exploding into a bright, new world something that has never been seen before. It is like being at the entrance of a world so new and so different, that you can't quite comprehend what you are seeing.
So often, furniture stores greet you like something out of the '60s or '70s. You enter the front doors and are met by a display of furniture on a riser. There is a "racetrack" around the store, right to left, and a sameness blandness a brown world of vanilla. In some stores, the lampshades are covered with plastic coverings so the shades will not get soiled. And there are signs everywhere shouting terms or sale.
In a recent survey, a hundred women were asked what turns them off about furniture stores. They complained that most stores looked depressing.... that they had dirty or worn carpeting nail holes in the walls from previous pictures that were hung spotty paint jobs... and no design direction at all. They said that, "We come to learn about what is new in design trends, colors and fabrics." They were upset that there was little or no accessorization within the displays. ("Where is the topping on the ice cream cone? Where is the sell?") They were upset that everything looked as though it was done on the cheap. ("They want us to buy this product that is so shabbily presented that we wouldn't even think of putting it in our homes.") These are the future customers of home furnishings and we're turning them off!
Robb & Stucky, through their Naples showroom, dispels all of that. Here is a company that understands, first and foremost, who their customer is and what their customer wants. Then, they give it to them. The displays are stunning. They have a full time staff just to set and reset displays, on a daily basis. Fully accessoried and magnificently presented, each product has its place in Robb & Stucky. As you might suspect, this show, isn't all show, and no substance. In fact, quite the opposite is true. The substantive base of Robb & Stucky demands that it make itself the leader, on a daily basis. It demands that inventory be backed up to satisfy the customer's need for instant gratification. It demands that the product be delivered with a white glove touch to meet the consumer's expectations. It demands that service be honed with constant customer feedback... followed up with a letter or a telephone call. It demands that every customer be thanked for purchasing from Robb & Stucky. And they do, on a daily basis. Why would anyone want to shop anywhere else?
This is the way the people of the Twenty-First Century are going to be buying home furnishings. If you want to enjoy an "E-Ticket" in home furnishing excellence, join the hundreds of other home furnishing dealers and manufacturers who gawk and stare, laugh and smile at what is surely one of the finest home furnishings stores in the world.
Lance G. Hanish is the President of Lance Benefield & Co., Inc. Worldwide, a leading marketing communications firm serving home furnishings retailers. Questions on any aspect of television media management or production can be direct to Mr. Hanish care of FURNITURE WORLD Magazine at firstname.lastname@example.org.