Furniture First Holds Townhall Calls for Members
Three retailers have joined Furniture First as the cooperative buying group works to help all members stay connected during COVID-19 closures.The first of a series of townhall calls took place Monday and involved retailers from 12 states. The numbers of members on each call are limited in order to give each the opportunity to participate in the discussion. Participants were about equally split between stores that are currently closed and stores that remain open. Furniture First staff moderated the call to learn how to better serve members’ needs in the difficult circumstances.Members on the Monday call compared their policies and operational status in light of the current crisis. One of the biggest topics of discussion centered on delivery – whether to do curbside or garage delivery and whether or not they could offer any removal services. During the call, one member noted that this type of activity is exactly why he joined Furniture First and voiced his appreciation of the Furniture First staff as well as for the opportunity to learn what his fellow retailers are doing to keep their businesses operating or mitigating the impact of closures. A second call will take place on Tuesday with another group of retailers, and more calls are expected to be scheduled soon. Separate calls for the group’s four in-house performance groups are also taking place.“People need interaction and information. That’s why we are doing this,” commented Furniture First CEO Andrew Kauffman. He has sent daily updates to the 230 retailers in the group, detailing resources and specials that the staff has developed to date while working remotely.In addition to the calls and emails, Furniture First members have been very active on the group’s new bulletin board which accompanied the launch of a new version of FurnitureF.coop, the group’s members-only website. The updated site launched last month with improved search capabilities. The feature-rich bulletin board has given members a platform where they can discuss topics ranging from merchandise sourcing to social media marketing. In the last few weeks many of the discussions focused on policies and operations in the midst of many closures.“While these are uncertain times, we are really happy to welcome new members right now so they can start benefitting from our programs and services right away,” said Amanda Daubert, Director of Services. “Our members are known for surviving tough times. One of our members is celebrating 105 years in business this year – and they aren’t alone! We have several members in that century-plus club. They have survived World Wars, depressions and recessions, and are still here. Our members learn form and lean on one another. That’s what can help them survive this current crisis.”The three new members of Furniture First include Fiesta Furniture in Scottsdale, Arizona, Higdon Furniture in Paducah, Kentucky and Moore’s Furniture in Cleveland, Texas.Fiesta Furniture in Scottsdale, Arizona rejoined the group after a five-year break during which it an alternate business model was tried out. Ultimately, the store decided to return to membership because the community of retailers in the cooperative offer a wealth of intellectual capital. The networking and idea sharing that the group is known for are often seen as great of a benefit as rebate dollars.Higdon Furniture’s two locations Paducah, Kentucky are situated at the southwestern end of the state, allowing them to draw customers from Missouri, Illinois and Tennessee, as well as Kentucky. The first Higdon Furniture location was founded in 1970 by Ollie and Maurene Higdon. The couple’s nine children and spouses have worked in the store. Over the years the retailer has moved locations, acquired a local high-end interior firm and opened Ashley Homestores adjacent to their Higdon locations. Today the business is headed by Jody Higdon. Moore Furniture was founded in Cleveland, Texas 1982. Located about 45 miles northeast of Houston, Moore Furniture specializes in-home design services and special order. Moore Furniture is family owned and operated by multiple generations of the family.About Furniture First: Furniture First is a cooperative national home furnishings and mattress buying group serving full line independent retailers with sales over $2 million. Collectively, the group sells $2.8 billion at retail with their approved merchandise programs in the 512 member storefronts. Furniture First occupies showrooms in Las Vegas (B530) and High Point (IHFC G-770) where they display products from several of the group’s approved vendors. For more information call 800-411-3477 or visit www.FurnitureFirst.com or www.FurnitureFirst.coop.
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