Sunnylands Sunny Future
Who says retail is dead? With all the negative coverage surrounding store closings over the past few years, it’s refreshing to see retailers expanding and opening new locations.
One key for surviving in an increasingly competitive retail environment is updating your store and brand image to accurately represent your company. And Sunnyland Furniture is doing both of these things in a big way.
The company opened its second location in Frisco, Texas, in June, and the new store is the next step in the brand’s evolution. They looked in several different areas for years, and noticed a lot of growth north of Dallas. The PGA Tour is moving its headquarters to Frisco, as well as the Dallas Cowboys, and Keurig Dr. Pepper plan to open 350,000-squarefoot headquarters there in 2021. “Every week it seems like someone else has announced they’re moving to Frisco,” says Sunnyland’s Vice President of Operations, Brad Schweig.
While the Frisco location is smaller than Sunnyland’s massive, 37,000-square-foot flagship showroom in Dallas, the popularity of Frisco, as well as the want to own a store and not lease it, drove the company to the area.
“It’s definitely a smaller footprint and something we haven’t had to deal with before,” Schweig says. “But it’s still a nice-sized store. We’ve always bought for a 37,000-square-foot showroom, so we’ll be happy to make some cuts, pick some best sellers and make some groups smaller. It’s going to be very different trying to decide what goes into the bigger store and what goes into the smaller one. It’s a different buying experience.”
The new 16,000-square-foot space used to be a billiards store, which ended up being perfect for Sunnyland. With multiple rooms and different dividers, Schweig says it’s set up nicely for a furniture store.
“It really was move-in ready,” he says. “The way the store is divided up—in the front it’s more vignette-style with divided walls. And then there’s a room in the back that’s open. So I think the goal is to have vignettes up front, and the back area will be for single products.”
With things being a little more consolidated in the smaller space, Schweig says the Frisco store could prove instrumental in driving customers to the bigger showroom.
“I might show a seating and dining group in the main store, and then have just a small representation of it in the Frisco store,” he explains. “Then, if the customer likes it and wants to see more, they can head to our other store. It’s almost like a quick-ship program, where if they see it they can drive 10 minutes down the road to our big showroom to see more. “We have a lot of customers from the Frisco area, but at the same time there are probably plenty of people who have never heard of us,” he continues. “So even if we don’t have what they want, at least now they know we exist and we can send them to our other location to see the complete collection.”
A new look
With this new store also comes a major rebrand. The company has shortened its name to simply Sunnyland Outdoor Living, a move Schweig says truly represents what they do.
“Even before the second location we had been talking about doing some rebranding and imaging updates,” says Schweig. “We hadn’t changed our logo in a while—the font is actually from the early ‘80s. So we’re trying to continue to evolve what we do.”
In addition to the new name, the old logo had the slogan,“The Ultimate Outdoor Casual Furniture Superstore,” which Schweig says is a mouthful. He also doesn’t think the customer understands what “casual” furniture means. As far as the superstore part, he says they took that out because they started carrying higher-end furniture years ago and don’t want to be associated with big box chains.
“People told me our brand didn’t match the image of what we were doing,” Schweig explains. “We’ve tried to be higher-end and carry higher-quality product, and the brand didn’t necessarily reflect that.”
While the Frisco store will launch with the new, modern Sunnyland logo, Schweig says he hopes to have everything—from the website to the trucks and the marketing materials— updated with the new logo by the company’s 50th anniversary next year.
“I use Crate and Barrel as an example; you walk into one of their stores and you know you’re in a Crate and Barrel,” Schweig says. “From the image to the look to the feel, everything has a consistency to it. We just want to make sure everything feels consistent—from our store to our advertising. We’ll have brand standards so all the colors are the same. And we’re still finalizing some of that stuff. With a family business you don’t always think of those things, you just do what works at the moment. So we’re trying to take that mentality to another level to match it with the level of furniture we’re selling.”
Along with that, they’ve been working on some long-term plans for the flagship. “We’ve hired some consultants to give us some conceptual ideas, so as we’re redoing the store, we’re trying to keep things consistent and move things up, and we
have a long-term plan. In the past we’ve always done one part of the store at a time, and it wasn’t always cohesive with the other parts. Now we have a game plan as far as how we want things to look going forward over the next five years.”