Sometimes, Ron Cooper has to be a family counselor. Plenty of times, he’s heard a senior furniture retailer complain that “I turned the business over to my son and he killed it!”
No, Cooper assures the father, “Amazon, Wayfair and the big stores killed it.”
Cooper’s real job isn’t to work out family problems but to bring struggling furniture stores back to life. A former store owner, he’s vice president of sales and marketing for PMP Sales, a New Jersey firm that specializes in giving independent furniture retailers a burst of revenue from high-impact sales events or implementing other strategies to regain sound financial footing.
He’s also one-half of a pair of competitors who will lead a seminar in the Retailer Resource Center during the High Point Market.
Cooper and Tom Liddell, senior vice president and managing director of Connecticut-based Planned Furniture Promotions, have known each other for years, Cooper said. “Yes, we’re competitors, but we’re friendly competitors.”
So, no counseling will be needed during the seminar, which will be 2:30 p.m. on April 8.
Liddell’s specialty is a little different. An industry veteran who lives in Tennessee, he sometimes serves as a business undertaker when a store isn’t going to recover from its troubles.
“I do have the happier job,” Cooper said.
Cooper’s goal is to help put stores on a sustainable path. He may ask uncomfortable questions, like: Have you put your own money back into the business in the last couple of years? “Yes” is not a good answer.
The best prescription is to capitalize on the services local businesses can provide that online retailers can’t, such as visiting customers’ homes to give them design ideas. But a truthful prognosis requires a professional opinion. After all, someone who’s having chest pains probably should see a doctor, Cooper said.
And someone with family problems should consult a real family therapist.
The Retailer Resource Center is on the first floor of Plaza Suites. For more High Point Market seminars, click here.