Best Practices: Sunnyland Patio Furniture

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"After taking over Sunnyland Furniture in 1977, I realized that in the patio furniture business cash-flow is slow in the off seasons. So, in the late 1980s, we opened a baby-juvenile furniture store because that market was booming. It turned out to be one of my best business decisions, but it came with its own problems.

By the mid-1990s, we had moved the two stores into our new shopping center -- Sunnyland Home Center -- at Spring Valley Road and Coit.

When national baby superstores came into town, they killed our profit margins. As we were faced with the realities of where the market was going, it looked as though my best business decision would instead become my worst. So we turned our negative into a positive.

We didn't want to close the baby-furniture store because there was personnel involved. Our shopping center totaled 30,000 square feet, and our two stores were there along with another shop, Dinettes and Dreams. We moved the baby furniture store one slot down, next to Dinettes and Dreams, and sold them the business.

Then we had the opportunity to sublease the empty baby-store space to The String Bean Restaurant. Just through The String Bean we are getting about 15,000 people into our shopping center per month.

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