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Re-imaging with RTA – ready-to-assemble furniture

Re-imaging with RTA – ready-to-assemble furniture – RTA furniture

Discount stores are by no means oblivious to consumers’ recent fixation on the home. Venture, the latest discount store to announce a re-imaging program, told DSN that casual furniture has become an increasingly important part of its mix and will play a major role as it moves toward its new stance as a “category-dominant home, family and leisure retailer.”

In an interview with Gary Witkin, the ex-vice chairman of Saks Fifth Avenue who joined Service Merchandise a year ago as president and ceo, the executive said his company has big things planned for RTA. “With our RTA sources, we have the ability to furnish every room in the house,” he said.

Best Products, which emerged from Chapter 11 about a year and a half ago, made RTA a very high priority in its transformation from a catalog showroom to a jewelry and home product retailer.

“If you’re serious about the RTA business, you’re going to have to give it footage,” declared Pat Henkel, director of merchandising for the Richmond. Va.-based specialty retailer.

Four years ago. the retailer allotted about 1,500 sq. ft. to RTA. Today. the area dominates 6,000-sq.-ft. Merchandise is on the floor and in complete collections. “We won’t sell just one piece. Our goal is to sell the complete ensemble. If the consumer can’t buy it all at once, they can come back and purchase other pieces later, as needed,” he said.

Specialty RTA retailers swear by the on-the-carpet merchandising strategy. At Home Concept, the single-primarily RTA store based in Appleton, Wis., nothing is on gondolas. At Affordable To Go, a similar single-store concept in Avon, Mass., only the microwave carts get the gondola.

Some discounters are doing their best with the room they have, but most say they can’t afford the space to build vignettes in the already-crowded store. Most have added cardboard TVs, books and computer props to bring some semblance of what products will look like in the home, and some even add plants.

Jamesway, which does present the merchandise on carpeted, two-tiered gondolas, also color s and numbers the display merchandise with the stock underneath to ease the purchase process.

“We position the merchandise in a natural trade-up position,” Henkel said. The trade-up is measured not just by price, but by added features and inherent value. “If you’ve got the right goods, your prices are right, your pieces are put together and it looks good, the merchandise will sell itself,” Henkel said. “You’ve got to ask yourself: Does my merchandise look the same way it does in the flier or Sunday insert? Presentation is everything at the store level.”

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