Comfortables was a growth engine! We needed to get everyone 'on board'

32 New Mersman Waldron 'Comfortables' Stores Planned

The following news release was submitted by the director of public relations at Mersman Waldron Furniture:

Comfortables, the Living Room Store, retail licensee program of Somers Corporation, plans to more than double the number of stores currently in operation during 1987. Somers Corporation is the parent company of Mersman Waldron Furniture, manufacturers of coordinated living room and family room collections.

"Six Comfortables stores were open at the beginning of 1986. Twenty-two stores are operating today and we anticipate a total of 54 stores to be open by this time next year," said C. Douglas Carter, president of Comfortables. We're well on our way with many planned openings for the first six months of 1987 already in the works," Carter added.

Comfortables are licensee stores, located in shopping malls, which feature Mersman Waldron Furniture exclusively, in completed coordinated and accessorized room collections. The average store is approximately 2,000 square feet displaying nine room settings.

The Comfortables program, first introduced in 1985, underwent expansion and restructuring of management responsibilities during the past year under the guidance of Willard Somers, president of Somers Corporation. Carter was appointed to the programs' helm in October. Carter is responsible for directing an aggressive plan designed to insure the continued success and growth of the licensing program.

Carter comes to Comfortables after eight years with Curtis Mathes where he served as vice president of marketing and business planning for this national retailer franchisor of more than 650 consumer electronics stores.

The management restructuring also included naming Chuck Matson as Director of Comfortables, North, and Sandra Marion Director of Comfortables, South. Within their geographic territories, each is charged with the broad responsibilities involved in bringing a licensee on board. Working with the represen-tative in the field and the design staff, Ms. Marion and Matson coordinate the support efforts required through opening, including negotiating with the shopping malls for prime space.

More than 200 prospects expressed serious interest in the Comfortables program in - 1986. Thirty-two new Comfortables will begin operation during this calendar year.

"It's the future of home furnishings retailing," said " Carter. "The reasons for the strong interest in the program are: low investment, high return, low inventory requirements - the comprehensive Comfortables business system. The operating stores continue to gain momentum, increasing In dollars generated per square foot, as we gain experience. We will build on our successes," Carter said.

Areas of training and support materials have proven to be key factors in the Comfortables development and will be expanded and enhanced during 1987.

The Comfortables Advanced Management Program (CAMP) has been extended to four sessions. This week long seminar-style program was first held last September for owners and managers of Comfortables nationwide.

"This program (CAMP) is particularly important for stores planning to begin operation," said Pat Boyers, Comfortables Training Director. ''CAMP will provide these people (new owners) with a solid background for opening and operating their stores efficiently and successfully."

Point of purchase support materials tell the Comfortables story: the design services offered; the custom order options available; and the affordable quality furniture provided by the the Comfortables retailer. Advertisements, hang tags, posters and promotions are themed and coordinated to maximize merchandising efforts.

The unique location of Comfortables stores is also a paramount contributor to the success of Comfortables. Located in major shopping malls, Comfortables retailers enjoy high volume traffic.

"Malls have become preferred place to shop. More than half of all retail sales - over $300 billion - was done in shopping malls in 1986," explained Carter.

Willard Somers, innovator of the Comfortables program, paired the outstanding record of the gallery concept with the growing number of consumers flocking to the shopping malls as a one-stop source for their needs.

"If a small 'store' concept worked as a gallery larger furniture store, why not take a gallery (on its own) into a shopping mall?" stated Somers. "A shopping mall would allow such a store to take advantage of the traffic furniture stores never seem to generate."

Within the open doorway of the Comfortables mall stores, customers find beautiful correlated room collections, at affordable prices, and highly trained sales and design consultants. Mall wanderers gravitate to the Comfortables store. It's an unexpected but inviting experience.