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Woolrich brings home new format

Outdoor apparel company Woolrich has given its thriving home business a higher profile with the launch of a new test format in its flagship outlet store here.

"That portion of the business is on fire," said Rick Insley, senior vp, retail.

Founded in 1830, the manufacturer sells its wares to other department store and specialty retailers, in addition to operating its own 27 stores throughout the United States.

Previously, the piecemeal presentation of the home products, which includes blankets and fabrics, was minimal, he said. Blankets, for example, were being merchandised in piles. However, "that business far exceeds sales in square footage than anything in apparel," he said. "It has the highest per-square-foot dollar amount in the store."

Insley wanted to translate the look found in Woolrich's trade catalogs — where products are shown in home settings — to the store. "I wanted to do that within our store in an environment that would generate more business and sales."

The home division was previously allotted 1,000 square feet of selling space in this store, but with the expansion into an adjacent vacant store it has now doubled in size and holds about 300 skus. The area displays such product as blankets, fabrics, throws, bedding and such, but Woolrich will now be able to show more accessories as well, such as bed skirts, pillows and shams that coordinate back to the blankets, he said.

Designed by Horst Design International, Cold Spring Harbor, NY, the home store showcases textiles, furniture and related products in realistic home settings. Eight vignettes, including a Southwest-style area, a juvenile bedroom, a master bedroom and a dining room, incorporate the different American, woodsy designs. The store has a mix of colonial furniture and finishes, such as antique distressed wood oak plank floors, and walls that are cultured stone, antique brick and raw wood with faux finishes.

Originally, the Adirondack-type furniture was for display only, but Woolrich now offers that as well after significant customer demand.

The home footprint in the other stores is typically about 200 square feet, Insley said, but in new rollouts it is increasing to 400 square feet. Beyond that, Insley refused to commit to any future home stores just yet.

"We will see how this will play out first," he said. "It's had a huge increase for us already over the same period last year. It makes a huge difference in showing it this way."

He continued, "I'm expecting double the sales, and I think we can easily do that."

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