Furniture Connection bucking trend, expands to larger location

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Furniture Connection owner Stacey Turner opened her store at the Promenade Shops at Briargate on April 1. Turner started the business during March 2007, but moved this month in an effort to gain more visibility.

Furniture Connection owner Stacey Turner opened her store at the Promenade Shops at Briargate on April 1. Turner started the business during March 2007, but moved this month in an effort to gain more visibility.

When Stacey Turner moved to Colorado Springs during 2007, she began the process of remodeling the home her new husband owned here. So, she went shopping, but after visiting stores throughout town, she just couldn’t find anything she wanted.

That’s when an idea struck her. Why not open a furniture store? There’s a real need in the market.

Furniture Connection opened during March 2007, and April 1, Turner moved the store from the Plaza at Chapel Hills to a larger location at the Promenade Shops at Briargate.

“It was just time,” Turner said. “We really enjoyed our first two years, but the opportunity came along to move here. The traffic is good and we’re at a more visible location.”

Based on U.S. Commerce Department estimates, March retail furniture sales nationwide declined 14 percent year-over-year.

Furniture Connection has bucked that trend.

“Our business has done very well,” Turner said. “When we opened two years ago, we started with nothing. People didn’t know we were there. But, they started bringing their friends in and we grew.”

She said that what separates Furniture Connection from other stores is selection.

“You don’t have to be rich to have a beautiful home,” Turner said. “You just have to have a good eye and know what to buy. And we do offer every price range. A lot of people will come in with their colors and their floor plans and we start showing them what their options are.”

Furniture Connection’s clientele ranges from average homeowners to interior decorators and designers. The company carries lines from 30 brands, and Turner said that 60 percent of what the business sells is manufactured in America.

The company even sells the Environmental Furniture brand, which uses reclaimed woods.

The current state of the economy and lagging furniture retail sales nationwide don’t scare Turner.

“I’m very confident,” she said. “I think our prices, our service and our personal touch have kept us in business. We get so many repeat customers and people who send their friends over.”

Turner incorporates a Web site, www.furnitureconnectionllc.com, into the business by providing links to manufacturer’s product lines, which allows visitors to browse through brands offered at the store from home.

“The main thing we tried to accomplish is to be a resource,” Turner said. “And to establish the fact that you can have a beautiful home without spending a fortune.”

Furniture Connection also offers monthly design workshops. Visit the Web site for more information.

March retail sales fall

The U.S. Commerce Department reported national retail sales for March fell 1.1 percent compared to February. The news sent stocks tumbling 137 points in trading April 14 because analysts had predicted a drop of only 0.3 percent.

Retail sales make up two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, so investors follow the key commerce department statistic as a means of judging the strength of the economy.

Food and beverage store sales climbed 0.5 percent, grocery stores saw a 0.4 percent jump and health and personal care store sales rose 0.4 percent, but every other major category fell, including automobile dealers (2.5 percent) and motor vehicle parts dealers (2.3 percent).

Total sales for the January through March were down 8.8 percent compared to the same time during 2008.

‘Fork the recession …’

The Colorado Restaurant Association has launched a statewide public awareness campaign to encourage consumers to visit restaurants.

The CRA labels its effort, “Fork the Recession … Feed the Recovery,” and will conduct the campaign through May.

Denver mayor and former restaurateur John Hickenlooper said that restaurants comprise 14.7 percent of the state’s sales tax revenue, the largest contributor of any sector.

Scott Prater covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.