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  • Cecile Corral

Accent Goods Thrive at Gordmans

With its home business proving resilient despite the trying economic times, central U.S. regional department store Gordmans is expanding its domestics department's best performers — decorative pillows, rugs and kitchen textiles — to achieve a grander goal: transform them into destination businesses for customers.

Gordmans Inc. is a fourth-generation, family-owned and operated retail chain that celebrates its 93rd anniversary this year.

Jeff Gordman, president, chairman and ceo of the 65-unit chain — with presence in 16 states — deems the store's home business as "strong for us, performing well within the context of the macro-economic environment."

He described dec pillows, rugs and kitchen textiles as leading categories. "These are our strengths in home," he reiterated. Playing to strength, the retailer is in the process of enhancing these to offer a heftier, broader assortment of styles beyond the current average sku count.

"What we try to do is offer a very broad selection, such that we are trying to create destination businesses," he elaborated. "Very few retailers today have the selection of dec pillows that Gordmans carries. We try to identify voids in the marketplace, then create strong business categories that fill the void by offering very compelling selection, fashions and values."

While these decorative aspects of home have enjoyed success in recent months, other segments of the domestics business have proved more muted results. The "staple side" — or categories like fashion and utility bedding — has been less strong.

The entire home department — including both soft and hard home products — encompasses more than 25% of the chain's total sales, Gordman estimated. Soft home comprises slightly more than 10% of that 25% segment.

The home merchandise mix at Gordmans includes non-branded goods, which are the focus of certain decorative areas like wall hangings, as well as branded goods, which are more prolific in soft home, with brands such as Laura Ashley, Royal Velvet, Ralph Lauren, Croscill, Beauty Rest and Sunbeam maintaining consumer interest.

Gordmans' typical store prototype measures roughly 50,000 square feet.

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