The upcoming closings of both Luxe Home Furnishings on Carling Ave and Suede Interiors on Richmond Rd in Westboro is going to make shopping for furniture in Ottawa a little more challenging and cause concern over the state of the retail market in Ottawa.
Each of the stores has run viable, healthy businesses that have enjoyed many years of success, however, each of the owners has succumb to the call of retirement rather than continue to work at keeping up with the changing and often challenging retail landscape.
Ron Boivin has owned Suede Home Interiors for the past 22 years. His Westboro store carries furnishings that lean toward a warm contemporary style. And while he knows that buyers want to be able to see and feel furnishings before they bring them home he is also aware that today shoppers have no qualms about ordering goods online. Ron admits that everyone suffers with this approach to retail including the buyer and pronounces “sometimes quality is compromised by a customers ability to find what they want online”. His advice to anyone thinking about getting into home furnishing retail in todays market is to be aware of who your buyers are and work hard to cater to those needs. This is a formula he has successfully followed for years.
Luxe Home Interiors offered the same approach with the clients they served for 26 years. They carry primarily a mid range of furniture and accessories and have had a strong clientele of designers. Their closure will leave a hole in the market for designers.
Brenda Martin has managed the store for the past seven years and believes that the custom home furnishings business is sustainable in Ottawa but acknowledges that the Internet and big box stores can be stiff competition for retailers. Luxe has enjoyed years of assisting clients to meet their demands “We are going to miss the personal relationships with clients we have served for so many years” says Brenda and offers, “Designers in this city are going to miss us too!”
Designer Sonya Kinkade agrees; “Luxe made it easy for me with their customized service and their large supply of beautiful furniture at your fingertips. It truly was a white glove service.” She says.
Rob Moran, GM of Cadieux Interiors is hopeful that this opening in the market will give them the opportunity to show people what they can offer. Known for their higher end brands he says, “We plan to bring more mid-range furniture to address this opening.”
Rob acknowledges the challenges in the market today and states “we are finding that we need to sell to twice as many people to make the same numbers as we did five years ago due to the drop in prices”. The price drop is a sign of the heavy Internet competition that allow for easier price shopping than ever before.
At Cadieux Interiors they are noticing a decline in customers in the store but this isn’t all bad. What they are seeing now is real buyers walking through the door. Their strong online presence offers people the opportunity to check the store out from home and then decide if the goods suit their style and budget. Rob and his team are hard at work to earn the business that will be created through the opportunity of the closings but he assures that they take nothing for granted, “people in Ottawa recognize the value of quality. It’s a healthy industry that is evolving and adapting and you cannot be complacent,” states the astute businessman.