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Galax furniture makers encouraged by market

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By April Wright, Reporter

Though Doug Bassett hasn't seen such an unstable economy in all of his career in the furniture industry, the vice president of sales at Vaughan-Bassett Furniture was pleased with how well the company's new lines were received at the High Point market last month.

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Attendance was down at the market in High Point, N.C., and Bassett said he had never attended when the stock market was at its shakiest.

Since October 2002, the furniture industry has been in a major economic struggle, he said.

“It's an extremely difficult time,” he said. “But we're pleased with what we've accomplished.”

Vaughan-Bassett introduced the Barnburner Ten adult bedroom collection, an ensemble created from select hardwood solids with a white, merlot and cherry finish.

The Barnburner Ten collection “has been the best-received and very successful, especially considering these economic times,” Bassett said.

The bed is $399 and the bedroom suit is $1,399. This collection will appear on retail floors this month.

“The Barnburner Ten is a reaction to the economic environment,” said Bassett. “It provides the dealers with the promotional goods and less expensive goods to drive traffic into stores.”

Vaughan-Bassett has expanded its Alexander Julian's Authentically American collection to incorporate a new line called Cottage Colours.

Julian, an award-winning designer from Chapel Hill, N.C., signed on with Vaughan-Bassett last year to launch the Authentically American collection. The title is derived from the fact that the furniture is designed by an American icon and built here in the United States.

Julian, known for his use of bright colors and argyle patterns, created the stylish cottage line to bring forth full bedroom suits finished with pinstripe pine, cherry, white, black, country butter and robin's egg blue — all in the customer's choice.

In a display room, the suit would feature a different color for each piece. That's because every component comes in every finish and in every bedding size, and customers have the option to mix and match color and pattern schemes.

With 48 bed options and many suit options, “the buyer becomes the designer,” said Bassett. In other cases of choosing furniture, customers usually buy a suit the way they see it, with one to three color choices. “This provides variety and flexibility, and we're happy about that.”

A similar cottage collection was released in 2002 and remains one of the most successful lines for the company.

“We wanted to update and improve the cottage collection,” said Bassett. “It's a similar concept, but it's near the high end and is a complement to the past collection.”

This Cottage Colours line will be in stock starting in July, and because the line was so well-received at the High Point Market, it has now been added to the company's seven-day delivery list.

When ordered, Vaughan-Bassett will be able to deliver any piece from Virginia to any of the 38 states between Galax and Denver, Col., in just seven days.

“That's something that Asia can't do,” said Bassett. “They can't offer this type of speedy delivery service and selection.”

The adult bed retails for $499, and the choice of bed, large dresser, chest and mirror suit for $1,999.

Despite an overall drop in attendance, Taylor Vaughan — chairman, vice president and CEO of Galax-based Vaughan Furniture — said attendance in the company's showroom was up 6 percent from the last two markets in High Point. Many were first-time attendees, with dealers promising to place Vaughan's newly launched Kathy Ireland Worldwide product line on their floors, he said.

“We were real pleased with what we had,” said Vaughan. “Our lines were enthusiastically received by dealers.”

Kathy Ireland World Wide products will soon be in stores across the country. Vaughan Furniture's new collection includes six master suits, two youth suits and some dining room furniture.

“Kathy Ireland is very well-known and is among the top 25 brands,” said Vaughan. “The philosophy of hers and our company are similar. It's a natural partnership, in which we can enhance each other's brands.”

The company plans to keep its moderate price range on the products, said Vaughan.

So far, the best-received product line has been the bedroom suit collection Southern Heritage, which features a spindle bed with medium oak veneers.

Another popular item is the white Chateau Brittany vanity, made with the young girl in mind. Fashioned after a powder room table, this youth vanity provides plug-ins and space for electronics, such as a laptop, hair dryer and cell phone charger.

“The knowledge Kathy Ireland has in the fashion industry will allow us to bring out designs sellable to the consumer,” said Vaughan.

Vaughan Furniture's new lines should hit retail floors by June.