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Selling The American Dream

Furniture World Magazine


Filling in the blanks between half formed ideas, and dreams of a beautiful home.

As a new member of the Home Furnishing Council, I am impressed by the purposeful and coherent organization this dynamic group of industry executives represents. Its highly creative programs create a 'win-win' situation for home furnishings retailers by providing a venue for us to cooperate. Only through cooperation can we convince the buying public to increase their interest in creating a beautiful home for themselves and their families.

Let me begin by saying we do not sell furniture at Domain. We sell dreams. This is accomplished by addressing our attention to the half-formed needs in our customers' heads. By uncovering these needs we, in essence, fill in the blanks; converting needs into dreams. Sales are the inevitable result.

Furniture lasts a long time and our industry needs to create an excitement that transcends the simple need to replace the shabby and hopelessly out of style. We must cater to and encourage new ideas in the marketplace.

Our customers are moving in creative directions, driven by a return to a more personal view of the world. An awareness of many styles and influences co-exist. An aversion to formulas -- and it's all okay.

More than one million new immigrants a year enter this country. Their thirst for success, which translates into hard work, rising incomes, and a serious desire for the trappings of a more tasteful lifestyle, can and should benefit the home furnishings industry. Yes, we must fill our customer's obvious needs; but we must also dig deep, to educate our customers; to bridge the gap between their personal creative vision and our products; to encourage them to dream a lifestyle that includes beautiful and functional home furnishings. Individual retailers or manufacturers cannot do this alone. We need to work together to encourage a whole new audience of untapped furniture purchasing power.

Change is not neat, logical, or elegant. We in the industry expend a lot of our energy to discover what's right for our customers. But how many of us can focus enough resources to lead our customers toward a vision of what is right for them.

If we in the home furnishing industry don't learn how to fill in the "blanks" between half-formed needs and full blown dreams, you can be sure that someone else will. That's where the partnership between the Home Furnishing Council and industry leaders is critical. Active on many fronts; with consumer education, consumer research, design aids, celebrity spokespeople, consumer advertising, the television show "Haven" and the decorating guide "Haven", the HFC provides the only way the home furnishings industry can cooperate to develop the future business we deserve.

Increasingly, America will lose the homogeneous make-up it had in the 1950's. I'm talking about a profound change, which is just not a fashion trend, but a new America for the 21st century. We must encourage this new American public to develop that vision of all that their homes can and should be. We must lead them to their "American Dream".

Judy George is Founder & CEO of Domain Home Fashions based in Norwood, MA. With 21 stores and many more planned, the chain has capitalized on Judy George's innovative retailing and management approaches. She is a member of the Board of the Home Furnishings Council. For more information on HFC research and programs, contact FURNITURE WORLD at editor@furninfo.com.