City Furniture takes a fashion-based approach to furniture. It works
Florida’s largest independent furniture retailer had humble beginnings, if not very humble ones. City Furniture began as Waterbed City in 1971. It was a two-sibling operation, with siblings Kevin and Keith Koenig to rebuild a business from the $ 1,500 they had saved from low-paying jobs. In the 1990s, with the collapse of the waterbed market, the duo took a whole house approach and never looked back. “It was a good time to get out of the water beds”, he jokes. André Koenig, Keith’s son and the current president of the company.
Looking at the company now, you would never guess its rambling beginnings. With 35 sites and more than 3,000 employees, City Furniture has a strong presence in Florida. Plus, the retailer shatters stereotypes about independent furniture retailers (namely that they are all large warehouses adjacent to a dimly lit freeway, filled with outdated recliners) with a decidedly contemporary approach. Some of its outposts have wine bars. All of them are brilliantly lit and organized into elegant lifestyle vignettes and filled with decorative pieces. It’s no accident, says Koenig.
“We see furniture as a fashion business,” he told the host Warren Shoulberg on the last episode of BOH ‘s Retail watch Podcast. “It’s very different from what it was 50 years ago, when you bought your parents’ furniture and expected to keep it for years and years. “
Like everyone else in the home business, the company has had a crazy 18 months, marked by increasing demand and complicated grunts in the supply chain. City Furniture has weathered the ups and downs primarily by buying aggressively early on. The company also has its own manufacturing facility in Missouri, giving it an edge over competitors who only buy brands produced overseas. “I hate to say it, but [in 2021], whoever has more inventory does more business, ”explains Koenig.
In this episode of the podcast, Koenig explains why City Furniture being a family-owned business has been an advantage, shares some predictions about the supply chain crisis, and offers insight into his company’s approach to e-commerce.
Home page photo: Courtesy of City Furniture