Sears 'Ty'-ing One On

Carole Sloan, Staff Staff, April 11, 2005

At the New York Market —Decorating will be made even easier for consumers with the launch next Sunday of Ty Pennington Style — the new Sears home decorating program of bed, bath, decorative pillows, rugs, tabletop and home accents.

The program, said Steve Ryman, newly named vice president, home brands for Sears (see item on page 2), “Is expected by the end of 2005 to be Sears' third largest private label home fashions brand.”

This launch, he added, “represents an important part of Sears' home fashions strategy to broaden our product selection and solidify the company's position as the retailer of choice for families and their homes.”

Ty Pennington Style joins Whole Home and New Traditions, both traditional in design, as Sears home fashions brands.

Ty Pennington Style, Ryman explained, is contemporary, and is targeted for the “better” price points. It also will move upward to the “best” level. “And as it gets bigger, the others will shift in emphasis,” he added. Both traditional brands are being analyzed to make them more consistent across all home fashions businesses in design and price points, he explained.

Ryman brings a strong track record of brand development to this program, having overseen the Martha Stewart Everyday program at Kmart, as well as earlier brand programs during his career at Shopko and the former Dayton-Hudson Department Stores.

The collection is derived from the 32 shade paint color palette created by Ty Pennington, design team leader on ABC's “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

Seven design and color lifestyles make up the first Ty Pennington Style collections. Each includes bed and bath, valances, rugs, tabletop and accent pieces.

All 870 Sears stores will feature three of the seven lifestyles: Bali Hai, Caliente Stripe and Lemongrass. The four additional styles will be offered in about 500 of Sears' larger stores including Sears Grand and Sears Essentials, as well as on, Ryman said.

An extensive marketing program is planned for the launch. In an unusual move, this Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Sears best charge customers are invited to preview the collection. The invitations come in the form of a special brochure with Pennington on the cover, and highlight the three all-stores lifestyles on separate pages inside.

On April 17, the Sears circular features Ty Pennington Style on the cover and first two inside pages. The national TV commercial featuring Pennington also breaks that day.

In store, the collection will be featured in Sears' Experiences, a stand-alone feature space — about 20-by-20 feet, most often at the front of the store, Ryman related. Caliente Stripe in a queen size bed ensemble will be featured with shelving behind it showing the other items in the lifestyle.

An extensive schedule of personal appearances on radio and TV talk shows begins this week as well as print interviews.

A brochure featuring the 32 paint colors will be available in the paint department, and gift cards have been designed so shoppers can give Ty Pennington Style-focused presents for the recipient to personally chose, Ryman added.

Starting with the color palette, the collection runs the gamut with lots of influence of food and travel — both are Pennington's passions. So there is avocado, and green in many colors. “It's all about color, handcraft, texture,” Pennington said. “I'm passionate about design. And in this collection, I'm bringing the outside in.”

Overall, Pennington added, “I wanted to do a line that was not too specific and make it simple and easy. Some lifestyles are very bold; others are subtle. And — it's affordable, which doesn't suck either.”

The results, he said, show that “Sears is letting me be me.”

And if anyone doubts his involvement, Pennington is quick to note, “I'm a bit of a control freak.”

As to his personal feelings about the collection, Caliente Stripe is in one of Pennington's bedrooms, Bali Hai in another “and Chocolatte is standing by.”

He added, “I'm also very excited about the dining ware; the silver and flatware is really exciting. I really take pride in it.”

Pennington's efforts went beyond product to include presentation.

“I absolutely was involved in both the packaging and the logo,” he emphasized.

He is especially proud of the Unishelf starter kit in home accents and the bed-in-a-bag packaging that has a different approach to showing all the items involved on the package.

Up next is TYU, Ty University, the second phase which will be geared to back-to-school for the 10 to 21 year olds.

“They're fun colors, fresh, vibrant looks, and different items. I really identify well with kids” Pennington said.

Ty University will have three collections and will run from June to September, Ryman noted.

In October, there will be an update on Ty Pennington Style which will launch 270-count sateen sheets and more bath, Ryman said.

As for Pennington, there's more design work in the future.

“Absolutely. I'm going to do high and higher level of product. Mediocrity is not a god I worship. It will be a better, best and beyond,” though no plans have been firmed up.

He added, “People probably expect me to be doing furniture design. They would expect me to have a furniture collection already.”

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