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Gabbert's specializes in more than furniture

Carole Sloan, Staff Staff -- Home Textiles Today, March 26, 2001

MINNEAPOLIS -"We're really not in the furniture business, we're in the home business," Jim Gabbert, chairman and ceo of Gabbert's, with stores here, in Dallas and Fort Worth, TX.

As part of that company credo, Gabbert's employs sales specialists in accessories, lamps and interior design.

Under the direction of Larry Olson, who heads the buying team of bed coverings, decorative pillows, throws, accessories and lighting, "We're now getting back into soft goods strongly with the upcoming redo of our Dallas store."

Currently, Olson explained, "we currently offer custom bed coverings in our interior design studio. When the Dallas redo launches we will dress all the beds on the floor."

The expansion of the bed coverings program will then be implemented in Fort Worth and then the home store here by 2002, Olson said.

Lined up as suppliers in the bed covering area are Austin Horn, Legacy, KoKo, and Eastern Accents. In throws, Textillery is the key supplier, with John Richards for throws and pillows and a number of small companies. Faux fur is a fashion statement from Second Impressions, Olson noted. In decorative pillows, Sweet Dreams is a key supplier. And "we just keep bringing in fresh, fun and unusual pillows from $149 and up," Olson related.

Planning the new textile, rug and accessories offerings involved working with the lead display person involving adjacenies. "I take a grand tour of the furniture market with the furniture buyers and then shop the furniture market on my own," Olson said. "When we get back from furniture market we work the soft goods side in Texas, where we have a very good rep. And for us, the rep is the most important element. He works with the manufacturer and can help tweak our needs. The rep is the piece of the puzzle that makes it work."

Gabbert's replaces "a good third of our non-furniture mix each season, but bedding is so new we are now staying with the fashion statements."

Area rugs are a separate department and are part of the 8 to 9 percent represented by rugs and broadloom of the total store volume that hit $133.5 million in 1999. Textiles, Olson reported, are about 5 percent of the company's total volume.

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