Resurgent economy evident in home furnishing industry

ASTORIA — Whether it’s the latest clothing or seasonal color, fashion trends extend well beyond the confines of the catwalk.

“We’re always trying to stay with the trends and color schemes — finding out what sells and what doesn’t sell, ” Roby’s Furniture and Appliance manager Brandon Carr said. However, keeping a pulse on the latest trends hasn’t always translated to sales, particularly in an area like Astoria that prides itself for its originality.

“There’s an eclectic group, especially in Astoria,” Carr said. “So you want to have a lot of different items and not necessarily cater to the 80 percent. We change inventory quite often to try to keep it fresh.”

When it comes to home fashion trends, gray is the current hot color, Carr said.

“Gray has been popular for a few years and it doesn’t seem like it’s going away,” he said. “As we transition into the spring, you’re going to see more teal and aqua colors coming out. But right now, it seems like every manufacturer is heavy in gray whereas five or 10 years ago you couldn’t give away a gray sofa. Now people are buying them left and right.”

Trends in home furnishings tend to keep pace with trends in other consumer products.

“It’s an industry of copycats,” Carr said. “We see one trend working in one line, and they apply towards another line. It’s like cars and tennis shoes — you see a certain styles that are trendsetters.”

Since the 2008 recession, Carr has witnessed a growing confidence amongst consumers.

“People aren’t afraid to spend money right now,” Carr said.

“When the recession was going strong people were scared. Five to 10 years ago, it was repeat customers every time, but now I would say 60 percent of the customers we’ve had are new business,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot of new people in our store.”

Carr has specifically seen a rise of second-home owners. Often it’s people nearing retirement from metro areas and moving to the coast. From April though September is when sales are the strongest overall, while February and March are often the slowest.

“I think a lot of it is tied to weather. It’s just nasty and people batten down the hatches,” Carr said.

“Last year quarter two (April through July) was our strongest,” he observed.

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