Weir’s Furniture ‘buys without fear” to push through pandemic

Weir’s Furniture wastes no time. Open the website and it gives you a nine-word greeting that’s music to the ears of many a pandemic-weary consumer: “We have furniture in stock and ready to deliver.”

Amy Folmar, marketing director, says that the availability of product has worked well, especially since Weir’s began offering outdoor furniture for the first time in the early 1990s.

“Our customers here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area need outdoor furniture since they can enjoy the outdoor temperatures here in Dallas Fort Worth for most of the year,” Folmar says.  And [during the pandemic,] both indoor and outdoor furniture has done well. People working from home didn’t know how uncomfortable their sofa was and now they do.”

Folmar says that business people would come to Weir’s for office furniture to use in working from home; and would come back for outdoor furniture, precisely so that they could get away from their in-house office.

“We were shut down for a while [during the pandemic] and that’s not ever fun, because we still have overhead,” Folmar explains. “Looking back, we would have chosen to do it again but it is good that people are investing in their homes. It gave everybody the motivation to do that—and you do have to have a good backdrop for the Zoom meetings.”

Outdoor furniture makes up less than 10 percent of Weir’s business and Folmar says that she expects it to stay at about that level, but that demand for both indoor and outdoor will continue to increase.

“Outdoor furniture is not a growth category for us, but we continue to grow our overall business so that it will grow with the overall business,” said Folmar.

She said that it is true that Weir’s is facing down several outdoor competitors in the marketplace, including Nebraska Furniture Mart, Sunnyland Outdoor Living and others. But she said that they aren’t Weir’s.

“Lots of customers feel comfortable with Weir’s because we have always sold quality furniture and they know that they are not going to get something that is junk,” Folmar says. “Generations of people have come in because we have been there that long.”

Jay Ray Weir first opened his store in 1948 with a 70-by-120-foot showroom. As adjoining businesses left, Weir’s expanded into their spaces again and again. It served its purpose well for its time but by 2019, its time had passed.  In its place, the Weir family has built a 12-story high-rise with the first two floors being set aside for Weir’s Furniture. It’s hoped that the store will open by the end of April. When it does, it will join three other Weir’s locations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

“In outdoor, we sell better quality brands like Ebel, Hanamint. Polywood and Patio Renaissance to name a few,” Folmar says. “We try not to sell anything that is not a quality product. We feel like we have something for everybody’s budget, not just high-priced stuff but high quality. We sell it for under the MSRP for a fair price. We can get it for a reasonable price and we make a reasonable profit.”

Folmar adds that outdoor furniture is shown outside for much of the year in a fenced-in area, in vignettes to help shoppers see the furniture on their own patio, porch or deck. And to market it, Weir’s depends on its people.

“Having an expert sales team that can answer questions and give advice is the key to our success,” Folmar says. “We have a fair amount of training—vendors come in and do training. It’s not uncommon for our employees to be here for a long time, for 40-plus years. We tend to keep our folks and they are just experts in general.”

Folmar explains that for full-line retailers to do well in outdoor, to take a lesson from Weir’s—and have the goods in stock, ready for delivery.

“You may want to invest in enough quantities so you can get container pricing,” says Folmar. “We are seeing in outdoor that shipping has been erratic, but we have been patient. We order far enough in advance so that our suppliers will ship it at one point or another—with port congestion and transportation issues in general—we are still committing for containers at a time because we can get a better price that way.”

 Folmar says that Weir’s made the decision at the beginning of the pandemic to keep buying, without fear.

“We thought that when all was said and done that demand would come back,” says Folmar. “And we have had inventory when others have not had inventory. We are not doing special orders on the outdoor, we sell what we have and we have been able to sustain what we have because we bought when nobody else was buying.”

This story first appeared in sister publication Casual News Now.

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