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ACC Santa Fe reboots brand

Enhances flagship store with total home offerings

Santa Fe, N.M. - ACC Santa Fe, longtime New Mexico home furnishings and design house, has been busy this past year recharging and reconfiguring its business in tune with shifts within its market, clientele and the overall economy.

"Consistent with every business out there, the housing market slowed here as well and the second-home market, and caused us to come up with creative solutions for continuing to drive market share to our business," said Jeff Fenton, svp, general manager.

So the company started at the top: Its brand.

As Suzanne O'Leary, director of sales and marketing, explained: "We refreshed our brand positioning for the first time since we opened 30 years ago."

The store was previously known as American Country Collection.

"We thought a new name, ACC Santa Fe Fine Furnishings, better reflects the times and taste of our clientele, and the variety of tastes and styles we offer our customers," she told HTT.

That spectrum includes traditional "and all of the antiques and fabrics and rugs that go with that," she said. That also includes transitional-style goods through contemporary, for which "we've introduced some modern pieces."

Founded by Carol Israel and Michael Needle, the business changed hands in 2006 when it was purchased by current owner Larry Goldstone. ACC remains an upscale home furnishings house, but under Goldstone, some changes have been - and continue to be - implemented to appeal to Santa Fe's altering touristic and second-home seasonal resident demographics.

One "smart change" to the business came last year, O'Leary continued: the consolidation of ACC's free-standing linens shop into the company's flagship store here, a 9,000 square foot showroom nestled in the downtown area nearby the historic Plaza.

"For a while we were focused on upholstery, lighting, case goods, rugs, and accessories. But in 2007 we saw an opportunity in bedding," Fenton said. "We had been doing some custom bedding because we are a design-based fine furnishings showroom and we've always offered complimentary design services, including custom bedding."

ACC opened a separate bedding and linens shop, called it Night & Day, "in order to cater to the more sophisticated bedding market we have here." The concept last for about six years - until the housing market faltered in the economic downturn.

With that consolidation came a new perspective on the store's bedding and linens offerings.

"When we had Night & Day, we had a very broad assortment of bedding," he explained. "We were looking to really understand where our business in bedding was coming from. We narrowed our focus to about half a dozen key vendors."

Because many of ACC's customers gravitate to the region's Southwest style in decorating their homes, ACC's bedding vendor list includes the likes of Albuquerque-based home textiles source Silverado Home. Others in the mix are Daniel Stuart Studio, Pine Cone Hill, and Bella Note, "ironically," Fenton said of the latter.

"Bella Notte is not Southwest style," he explained. "However, when you think about the bedroom, people often want to feel a certain softness and femininity, and we are able to offer that with Bella Notte. It's one of our best-selling lines."

ACC also offers Scandia Home down utility bedding products.

Bedding currently comprises about 15% of total sales for ACC. By comparison, all bedding, collectively - linens, mattresses, and bedframes - accounted for 17% to 20% when sold from the former Night & Day site.

The store's bedding price points range from $2,000 to $3,000 for a queen-size top-of-bed ensemble. Sheets by Pine Cone Hill or Daniel Stuart Studio retail for about $150 to $200, and $200 to $250, respectively.

Custom-designed and custom-made top-of-bed collections by ACC average at $3,000 to $4,500.

With bedding and the rest of ACC's home furnishings under a single roof now, "we are more representative of our design-based business model. Our designers are very equipped at helping our customers build a beautiful bed. They have a deep understanding of the product and the vendors, and they understand the look the client is interested in," Fenton noted.

Added O'Leary: "With our consolidated store, we now offer customers a more complete design experience and can help them with every room of their house. We are not just a showroom - we have complimentary interior design services, and that is what differentiates us in this region. Our interior design staff works closely with our clients, and we have the products and services to help round it all out."

Other recent updates to ACC's business include an expanded digital footprint. In May, ACC re-launched its website with new look and updated features.

"We highlight our four key benefits: complimentary design services, beautiful showroom, exceptional services, and inspiring pieces," she pointed out.

The store also set up a Facebook page a year ago, and has a growing mailing list of clients to whom it sends email alerts about new products, services, store-related news and promotions.

"We are not doing ecommerce right now because we are so custom-driven," O'Leary explained. "But we are considering some options that would be relevant to our customers since we have many customers from all over the world."

Aside from bedding, ACC offers other textiles products, both custom and via vendors.

"We work with a lot of fabrics for our custom window, cushions and pillows, upholstery and bedding businesses," Fenton said.

ACC's fabric line "runs the gamut," he continued, and includes major brands like Kravet, Fabrica, Pindler & Pindler, and Duralee, as well as designer-based collections such as
Ralph Lauren, Kathy Ireland, Manuel Canovas, Donghia, Thibaut and others.

Area rugs are a mainstay of the business, being one of the store's original product category offerings. The program includes a curated line of hand-knotted and hand-tufted pieces from a select group of vendors, including Feizy, Safavieh, and Asia Minor.

Top sellers in rugs are high-end hand-knotted rugs, followed by hand-tufted varieties. Price points range from $5,000 to $7,500 for a hand-knotted and $2,500 to $3,000 for a hand-tufted 8-by-10.

 

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