Thursday, February 4, 2010

Avant Garden and Home.

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Randi Andrews, owner of Avant Garden and Home, in Carmel Valley, Calif., describes her shop as a gallery, home accent shop and gift shop -- a wide mix of product, all mixed together.

"I don't carry things you can find everywhere," Andrews said. "We provide the unexpected, one-of-a-kind ... the avant-garde. I love hearing customers 'ooh and ahh.'"

Located on the Monterey Peninsula, the tourist trade accounts for a lot of traffic. "Along with intrigue, we create relaxation -- the music we play, the candles we burn, the lighting, are all carefully selected to fit the image," Andrews said.

Despite coming out of a flat holiday season, she remains optimistic. "I'm always the optimist. I do believe we will improve this year. We are climbing the ladder again ... but hey, at least we are going up."

At Avant Garden and Home, accents account for 80% of sales in 1,000 square feet of selling space indoors, and 400 square feet outdoors.

Describe your store: The shop is divided into vignettes but the division is by displays, without obstruction. Flow is important.

What makes you different? We love what we do. You can feel that as you walk in. Also, the displays -- we love mixing it up. But above all, our No. 1 priority is customer service. We go the extra yard, always. If we don't carry what the customer is looking for we will order it or send you to a shop that does carry it.

How do you reach your customer? Advertising in magazines, the local paper. We have a Web site, we're on Facebook, and we blog and send e-mails. I am president of our local Chamber of Commerce and work on projects all year long to bring in tourists. We have several events during the year, including a charity event and an invitation-only for various trunk shows.

Have you done anything different in the past year to weather the recession? We brought in lower priced products. We had been evolving to a high-end gallery. Now we mix it with many items under $30.

What's the best idea, event or change you've made recently in the way you operate or market your store? Working with other local businesses, which makes advertising affordable. Events bring in more people when more than one business is involved.

Tradeshows/markets you shop: New York, Atlanta, Las Vegas, San Francisco

Do you see any trends emerging or remaining "hot" in home accents for your area? Garden and accents for outdoor living. We are on California's Central Coast where we enjoy moderate winters and beautiful summers.

The most enjoyable part of your job? Shopping, traveling, buying -- what's not to love?

Year opened: 2003

Size in square feet: 1,000 indoors, 400 outdoors

Annual sales: Less than $1 million

Home accent categories: Accent furniture, lamps, wall decor, decorative pillows, throws, permanent botanicals, tabletop, garden accessories, fragrance, decorative accessories

Key vendors: Purple Zen, Luna Bella, Kinzig, Uttermost, Austin, Global Views, Creative Co-Op, Mariners Trading, California Art Studio, Napa Home & Garden, Open Air, Chicago Wicker, Maxcera, Bluworld, Alpine

Web site:

Source Citation
"Avant Garden and Home." Home Accents Today 25.2 (2010): 20. InfoTrac Small Business eCollection. Web. 4 Feb. 2010. .

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