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Furniture chain Art Van grows rug business  

Warren, Mich. – Larger sized rugs and customized color and pattern options are rolling out at 30-unit furniture and home furnishings chain Art Van Furniture as the retailer’s accessory category gains customers’ attention – and share of wallet.

Bob Price, vp of merchandising, told HTT that the rug category is “no question” a growth category and one the retailer wants to keep building in 2009. Last year Art Van experienced encouraging single digit growth rate in its rug sales and already registers momentum growing into this New Year.

“Business was tough in furniture, as it has been for the industry,” Price said. “But rugs and decorative pillows and certain types of throws are part of a piece of the domestic side that is really starting to grow.”

Of its new category initiatives, the “most important thing we are going to do,” he noted, is the addition of a new largest area rug size: 8-by-10.

Art Van, which turns 50 years old this year, already includes 3-by-5, 4-by-6 and 6-by-9 pieces in its line. “But we’re finding the 8-by-10 rugs can make a more dramatic statement,” Price explained. The suggested retail price bracket for an 8-by-10 size is set for $699 to $899.

Constructions for bigger goods will remain on the same page as Art Van’s existing line, which encompasses hand-woven and hand-tufted wool styles through synthetic machine-made looks.

Also new for Art Van’s rug customers is the ability to request special color and pattern options not in stock at the retailer’s stores. The merchant is partnering with rug suppliers to offer “more personalization” in rugs, or as Price explained, “more colors and patterns that we might not be able to stock.”

The Michigan regional chain typically stocks every rug style that it shows on its selling floors. “You can buy and take it home that same day,” he said. But should a customer request a certain rug in a different colorway, for example, the company now will custom-order it from the manufacturer.

As for design direction, Art Van’s new rug offerings are dictated by trends in furniture, which currently are “cleaner and more modern.” Price said new rugs will include transitional and abstract patterns in contemporary palettes.

Art Van is confident in this expanded accessory assortment because its furniture buyers work closely with its accessory buyer – the recently appointed Donald Dilliplane – to plan out lifestyle room settings and vignettes for totally coordinated packages. “Then, all of the components are put on the selling floor together,” Price noted.

Art Van stores measure 40,000 to 60,000 square feet and feature from 60 to 80 room settings in each.

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