Colfax Furniture opens a pop-up store for market samples

Mandy Jeffries with Doug Clark

This time of year, pop-up stores are all the retail rage—provided shoppers are in the market for clothes, electronics and other small items on their holiday list. HFA member Mandy Jeffries is changing the scale of pop-up stores by opening one in Greensboro, N.C., to sell a bigger product: furniture market samples.

 

No other furniture retailer sells as many market samples as Jeffries and Colfax Furniture. Every year Jeffries, whose company is a short drive from High Point, shows up at market and buys out entire showrooms from manufacturers.

How much does she buy? Jeffries won’t say, but she estimates market samples account for 60 percent of her business. Shortly after market, Jeffries and her marketing team were brainstorming a way to sell more than eight truckloads of samples. “We were looking for a promotion and figured the warehouse name had been played out,” says Jeffries. “Everyone has a warehouse sale or at least they call it that.”

That’s when the group came up with the idea of a pop-up store and went to work. They secured a short-term lease on a vacant Greensboro storefront along Wendover Avenue, a popular commercial strip running through Greensboro. Jeffries declined to discuss her lease on the 47,000 square foot space other than to say it is, like many pop-up spaces, a short-term deal at a fraction of the $14 per square foot the store usually demands.

[Grand Opening: Thinking of opening a second store?]

So far, the pop-up is proving a hit. On a recent Friday morning, shoppers who had already been to Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kohls and Target—other tenants in the shopping center—were dropping their purchases off in their cars before heading over to Colfax’s pop-up.

One customer had to flag down the sales manager to make a purchase. Business has been brisk but could be even better—as much as 20 percent, Jeffries estimates—if she had a few more good salespeople. She’s already borrowing sales associates from one of her two permanent Greensboro stores to help with the demand at the pop-up store.

“Give me five or six good sales people and we’d be tearing things up,” said Jeffries.

How long the store remains open is unclear. Jeffries signed a month-to-month lease, meaning she can have the space until whenever a large chain store wants the property. The previous tenant, Babies R Us, exited the space earlier this year.

Retail landlords are warming up to the pop-up strategy, which brings in much-needed revenue and creates buzz in vacant spaces until a permanent store signs a long-term lease.

“We’re helping them (the landlord) and they’re certainly helping us,” said Jeffries. “Everybody’s benefiting so we’re going to keep it open as long as it makes (financial) sense.”

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