Monday, November 28, 2005

Less is More?

The Zandl Group!
They advertise "If you want to see the world through the eyes of young people, you've come to the right site." Home Accents Today writes Zandl Group outlines 2006 trends in which theyt say
Wine bars are starting to replace martini lounges, as young adults become more wine savvy. Stodgy and elitist is being replaced by contemporary and modern.

Retro kitsch is growing because it's fun and communal and is a direct response to the uniformity and mass-sameness of the dominant culture. This trend will play out in girls roller derby, drive-in movies, spelling bee bar events and mid-century modern design at the high (Jonathan Adler) and low end (Thomas O'Brian at Target).

Southern influences are on the way as more people have moved to the South, raising the region's profile and influence. Population has grown by 25% in the last 15 years and the South now represents 36% of the total US population. While known for its conservatism, it also is starting to have a great influence on hipster-cool, e.g. growing popularity of country music from classics like Johnny Cash to contemporary, e.g. Keith Urban, western-inspired attire (shirts, belt buckles, boots), taxidermy, (e.g. Freeman's restaurant NYC) and growth of Jack Daniels whiskey.

Small is big with micro-segmentation, niche brands and personal authenticity topics of conversation on the business front. This development is fueled by the Internet, which has allowed consumers to veer off the mainstream path of "bigness." The concept of sustainability also comes into play as Americans face a future of limited resources for many people today, big equals greedy, crude and in bad taste. McMansions and SUVs have peaked while smaller homes/apartments and smaller cars are gaining cachet. And, it's not just about gas-guzzling it's a new mindset.

Other examples of small being preferable to big include restaurants with small plate menus, artisanal/small batch cheeses, chocolates and beer, cable vs. network, indie movies vs. blockbusters, iPod DJing vs. LP collections, flying jet blue vs. one of the big (often bankrupt) national carriers.

Buzz marketing goes on the defensive. As the legality of this kind of marketing gets called into question, companies may find instead of helping them to get a positive message out, manufactured buzz only pollutes and detracts from their brand image.

Consumers will become even more demanding. The Internet conditioning of consumers has led to a 24/7 orientation for entertainment, media, shopping and services. As cities become fully wi-fi and as video iPods become commonplace, consumers will increasingly expect what they want, when they want, where they want it.

After watching 60 Minutes last night about McMansions of 12,000 square feet for 3.6 people, they tide may be moving to smaller more efficiaent if Zandl Group is right.

Bev & Mike

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Review of Siam Society

I have been trying to get Michael to a Thai restaurant. He says he would rather go to a good Chinese like PF Chang or Sungari Pearl. His real taste goes to Hung Far Low if you ask me. But now there's a chance. An Exploration of Portland Food and Drink has just reviewed Siam Society and gives it very good reviews. Food Dude starts the review with:
In my humble opinion, Thai food is some of the most difficult cuisine to make properly.
Next comes a primer on what makes good Thai food and Food Dude then launches into a review of Siam Society set in an old power station on 27th and Alberta.
The first thing you should know is they are located in an old power company substation. A square blockhouse that was a warren of little rooms filled with electrical equipment has been completely renovated, yet still keeps the industrial feel of its past. From the imposing square building with a sweeping staircase leading to the front doors, to the foot-thick concrete walls, there is no doubt this building has a serious industrial past. Many of the interior walls have been cut out, with large steel beams acting to replace their load-bearing capacity. The ceiling, rising some 20 feet, is studded with skylights. The old windows and doors are still in place on the otherwise, completely refinished outside shell. This is a seriously sturdy building, and if a huge earthquake was to hit Portland, I can think of no better place to be. One drawback – the concrete absorbs the cold and radiates it back. Wear a sweater during the cooler months.

And how does the restaurant rate?

We have a good thing going here: a nice building, attentive staff, excellent drinks… but it all comes down to the food, and for a restaurant only open a few weeks, in most cases Siam Society delivers. All the portions are large; it would be easy to make a meal out of an appetizer and a soup. Presentation on every dish is beautiful. Curries come to the table in the individual copper pots used to cook them: dramatic and they stay nice and hot. You just dip out the sauce as you need it.
An Exploration of Portland Food and Drink is a must read for the latest in new restaurants and restaurant reviews. Next stop for my husband and me is Siam Society.

Phone: 503-922-3675. 2703 NE Alberta, Portland

Bev & Mike

Nature-Inspired Style from High Point

From the special November High Point edition of Home Accents Today, High Point Finds Comfort with Nature-Inspired Style by Kara Cox. The fall design trends draw rejuvenating inspiration from the same natural elements that have spawned recent chaos this hurricane season. As retailers and manufacturers alike recover from the recent effects of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, style trends sooth with natural elements and coastal influenced designs.

A soft mix of seascape hues such as sea green, sky blue and sandy beige create a simple palette for showcasing the treasures of the natural world. Wood is interpreted as a pattern in silky soft goods and cool silver-toned metal designs. Birds offer a feminine touch as scu;ptures and in hand-painted motifs on accent furniture. Wall decor showcases bird and egg designs featuring an antique quality interpreted in hand-colored prints.

For a more contemporary spin on the natural world, oversized palm prints highlight a modern take on tropical styling. Often shown on printed linen patterns in soft goods, natural materials combine content and concept. Palms are a popular wall decor subject in sepia tone and black and white photography while ferns also emerge as framed curiosities.

Coastal living moves inland as beach-themed collections appear across categories. The recent popularity of shell and bamboo is easily encompassed in the look while new designs are showcased with bleached wood,painted pastel finishes and nautical detailing. Linen remains a popular choice for soft goods and upholstery with rougher woven straw looks appearing as well. Navy reappears in the color scheme paired with bright teal, pale blue and crisp white. Also, gaining popularity are outdoor living collections from portable lamps to furniture offered from companies once restricted to indoor spaces. Southwestern styles carry the popular turquioise hues of last season with Native American inspired patterns and feather embellishments.

While nature dominates the style field this market, traditions continue with French-inspired designs casting a feminine glow with delicate candelabras, antique ivory paint finishes and cane-embellished furniture. Damask prints appear in larger-than-life motifs whether modernized in metallic ceramics or woven in luxe silk and velvet. Paisley pops up on the coattails of menswear-inspired looks as a classic pattern for upholstery and soft goods in rich, fall hues like red, brown and gold. Tabletop designs take on a free-form look as if hand molded.

Bev & Mike

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Cruise Oregon Highway 101

I love to come home and have Michael tell me I have a new Cooking Light Magazine in the mail. Aside from cooking 101, menus and planning and great recipes, that I try out on my husband, it has articles about health and fitness, beauty tips and travel. The latest issue has an article about the Oregon Coast.

Entitled Cruise the coast of Oregon the article encourages you to take a four-day road trip and cruise the coast.

The Oregon coast is famous for its 350 miles of public beaches and dramatic cliff-side lighthouses, and fall is an ideal time to visit: Prices are lower than during the summer season, the beaches and towns have a little more elbow room, and the cool fall breeze is refreshing. From whale watching to hiking to antique shopping, it seems there’s something new to do around each curve. When it comes time to eat, there are plenty of seafood restaurants and brewpubs in the area—Oregon has more than 70 microbreweries across the state. What better place to enjoy a locally made pint while watching waves crash against the shore than in a seaside restaurant?

This four-day, 255-mile road trip starts in Astoria, the oldest settlement west of the Rockies, and travels down Highway 101 through charming towns in the north and central coast, each with a unique range of offerings. Fly in and out of Portland, which has the closest large airport. The two-hour drive to Astoria on U.S. Highway 30 takes you along the Columbia River, and U.S. Highway 26 traverses the coastal range. With sweeping vistas all around you, it may be hard to keep your eyes on the road, so build frequent stops into your trip and remember to pack your camera.

On our tenth wedding anniversary, we drove to Eugene and then across to the coast. There we went north on 101 stopping at the dunes and renting a dune buggy for three.

Here the sand dunes reach 500 feet above sea level.

At the top the driver stopped so we could take pictures and guess who forgot the camera. Oh well, it just means we will have to go back and enjoy it all again.

Bev & Mike

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Allison Smith Interior Design

The Oregonian carries a very nice story, Personal Magic by Bridget A. Otto in the Homes & Gardens of the Northwest section. The article is about two local designers, mother and daughter, Alison Smith and Ramona Ramos of Alison Smith Interior Design whose idea is to help people decorate using what they already own.

A client, Judy Tichenor and her husband combined households with their younger daughter in a contemporary home. Tichenor had always lived in a traditional home with the various formal rooms.

The open floor plan was stressing her out.
She likes
that Smith takes the best of what you have and makes it look attractive.
Smith and Ramos get to know the client by seeing how they live, work and play.
During their initial consultation, which costs $150, they walk through the entire house even if the client is interested only in changing the family room. Many times, Smith says, they find a piece of furniture or artwork or an accent table from another room that's perfect for the room in question.

Other times, the house may be in sore need of interior paint, or perhaps the old couch needs to go. Sometimes they get in situations where there is just way too much stuff. The consultation allows Smith and Ramos to set priorities. Once the job is established -- their fee after the consultation is $100 per hour -- they like the client to "go away."

Another client, Tracy McCallister, says"
I had never thought about hiring a designer," says McAllister. But she wanted some help with her new home with its white walls and high ceilings.
Alison Smith Interior Design has built a niche business that appeals to those that already have furniture but know it could be presented better in their home.

Landfair Furniture + Design Gallery is probably not going to be a big factor with Alison Smith Interior Design, however we like the way they work and we like the fact that people can use interior designers in many ways. They can give you confidence in your choices or validate your judgement, but they are also trained to see things in new ways. In the case of Smith and Ramos, McAllister says

And the beauty of it is that it still looks like you. She didn't pick anything out. It's still your style.
Allison Smith is currently working on a project in Beijing, China, but you can reach Ramona Ramos at 503-827-5750

Bev & Mike

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Meet J.D Chamberlain Again

I went today to J.D. Chamberlain, an accent furniture company, looking for fresh material about their furniture offerings. I didn't see what I was looking for, so I emailed the company. I received a warm phone call from Dori McKearn in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Dori and her husband John started the company in 1993.

Landfair Furniture carries their furniture in the store. One of the pieces that was in our store recently, was a chest:

In my conversation I was reminded that J.D. Chamberlain designs and manufactures upscale furnishings crafted from the finest woods, exotic veneers, intricate metals, supple leathers and other natural materials. To that end, the McKearn’s travel the world.
We've found there is simply no way to do this without getting sawdust on ourselves,” says John McKearn. “After narrowing our list to the very top tier of manufacturers and craftsmen, we personally spend months getting to know the people involved. We design our products utilizing unique materials and elegant lines, and then scour the world for the suppliers and artisans who do those things best.

Apparently they’ve found them. J.D. Chamberlain has enjoyed double-digit sales growth since its launch in 2000--up 50 percent just last year. This year, Chamberlain became a top 100 vendor for Robb & Stucky Interiors, one of the most prestigious furniture retailers in the nation.Despite the international globetrotting aspect of their business, the McKearns, who were both born and raised in Beloit, stay rooted in Wisconsin.

We enjoy the quality of life here,” says John McKearn. “And we believe that the life-long relationships we’ve established help us to remember who we are, what we’re about, and how much everything we do ultimately involves real people very much like those we love most.
While John McKearn oversees the financial and marketing segments of J.D. Chamberlain, Dori McKearn handles the creative and sales end. Chamberlain represents the third "incarnation" of a design and sales venture that began as McKearn Enterprises in 1993, and encompasses the couple's more than 30 years of combined experience in the furniture industry.The J.D. Chamberlain signature line was introduced in October of 2000, at the prestigious InterHall of the International Home Furnishing Center in High Point, North Carolina, considered the Mecca of the furniture industry.
Fine Furnishings International” said of their debut: “The McKearns introduced the Chamberlain line at the fall market in High Point to a buzz…it was clear the furniture was charming the crowd.
And J.D. Chamberlain continues to charm the crowd. Except the crowd is international now:
Our customers frequently tell us that they enjoy the eclectic nature of our furniture often using our products to add spice and originality to their overall design setting,” says Dori McKearn. “We like creating furniture that’s fresh, luxurious and comfortable and we get a big kick out of seeing the original and expressive ways our customers use these pieces to create environments uniquely their own.
The McKearn’s are doing more original designs than ever before, and to great success. As from its inception, the line focuses on the use of diverse materials, textures and patterns, incorporated within fresh, functional designs. The fall line,which was introduced at High Point October 18, leans toward clean, flowing lines and features new product categories such as lighting, accessories and wall décor, along with the use of new materials like folded sea grass, richly patterned leather, solid brass, natural sea shells, arurog, horn, resin, faux bamboo iron, etc.The McKearns eschew what Dori McKearn calls “matchy-matchy,” preferring eclectic pieces that accent a room. Pieces like the Leather Arorog Entertainment Center, The Medea Bar Chair or the Sunburst Accent Table.
Buying a full bedroom or living room ‘set,’” says Dori McKearn, “is a little like a man buying only pre-packaged shirt and tie combinations, or a woman feeling she must match her earrings to her bracelet and necklace, or her purse to her shoes. No one should dictate what ‘goes together’ in your house.
After all, what fun is that?
Doesn't John remind you of Liam Neeson?Bev & Mike

What Is Your Repeat Business Strategy?

I received today, a email from American Express, a Small Business Newsletter. The first article is 3 Money-Making Marketing Strategies. The three stratagies or approaches that lead to higher sales in any business or industry are:

1. Increase the number of customers

2. Increase the average transaction amount

3. Increase the frequency of repurchase

My first thought was nothing new here. I saw those same three things in the book Getting Everything You Can Out of All You've Got by Jay Abraham. But I paused on strategy #3:

Strategy #3–Increase the frequency of repurchase
Too often, customers' repeat purchases are taken for granted and little thought or effort is given to encouraging and rewarding more frequent demonstrations of their loyalty. Repeat business is earned by giving customers what they want. More frequent purchases can be driven by reminding customers to order, suggesting new uses or anticipating their changing needs. Under what circumstances might your customers need to order more frequently? What usage situations could encourage more rapid consumption of your products or services? Established customer purchasing patterns rarely change for the better unless you intentionally intervene.

We speak with Interior Designers about their marketing programs and many don't have a strategy or just rely on referrals for new business. Referrals are an excellent way to get business, but doesn't go far enough.

Strategy #3 encourages repeat purchases. I immediately asked, "Do the designers who work with us, have a list of people they have worked with and do they communicate with them on a regular basis." That would encourage repeat business and encourage referrals. Or, how about a Blog and update the blog when you have completed a project and share the before and after photos with past clients. It's easy to send an email referring old clients to your Blog.

Here's another excellent way to encourage repeat purchases of accessories. Ask Michael to get dishes from the cupboard or put away dishes. He claims he is careful, but he can sure chip dishes! A friend gave us a green, kind of depression glass, salad bowl, made to have dipping sauce in the middle and veggies around the outside. Now it has a slight chip on the edge, a candidate for repeat purchase. I love him anyway. It does point out that many products need to be repurchased. Are you positioning yourself to be the supplier when that time comes?

Bev & Mike

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Is This $23.8 Million of Art?

American artist David Smith's large-scale metal structure 'Cubi XXVII,' seen here, has become the most expensive work of contemporary art ever sold at auction, fetching 23.8 million dollars at Sotheby's in New York(AFP/OFF)

Experts attributed the record price to the fact that most of Smith's works are in museums or permanent collections and therefore make extremely rare auction appearances.
This is considered art because the elite consider it art and will pay large amounts of money for it. Thomas Kincaid, on the other hand, is not considered art by the elite even though Kincaid sells big honkin' buckets-worth of "art", more than any painter in history. As for me, I know art when I see it.

Mike & Bev

Monday, November 07, 2005

Florida's Retail Hit Hard By Wilma!

When I saw this article in FURNITUREToday, Florida retailers hit hard, I was confronted once more with how devastating Hurrican Wilma was to Florida and how Katrina, Rita and Wilma have affected the lives and economy of the Southeast.
Furniture stores were cleaning up and trying to get back to business last week, almost two weeks after Hurricane Wilma cut a swath of destruction across south Florida from Fort Myers to Fort Lauderdale.
City Furniture, for example, had damage to 19 stores,
The most serious was to City’s store in West Palm Beach, the company’s second- highest volume producer, where the roof collapsed, said President Keith Koenig.

“It will be closed for eight to 12 months. That hurts a lot. That’s going to be a five, six or seven million dollar loss,” he said.


Retail damage losses will be astronomical and will be compounded by out-of-pocket costs not covered by insurance, said Julius Feinblum, president of New York-based Julius Feinblum Real Estate. Stores will lose business, and won’t be able to advertise to drive sales, he said.

Retailers I’ve spoken to and seen are in a state of shock,” said Feinblum.


Getting contractors in for repairs and insurance adjusters to look at damage “is a nightmare,” (Pedro) Capo, (El Dorado chief operating officer) said, because damage was so widespread.

Then you can't start repairs until insurance adjusters have seen the damage and there is a shortage of adjusters.
They’re going to people who lost their entire buildings first.


City’s Koenig said it’s impossible to get low insurance deductibles in Florida, and that his company will suffer about $1.5 million in out-of-pocket losses, since the stores had $100,000 deductibles.

Bev & Mike

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Designer's Challenge on HGTV

We are excited! Tomorrow on HGTV, Landfair Furniture + Design Gallery will premier its first TV ad buy on Designer's Challenge during the show, before and after.

Designer's challenge this week will feature Bungalow Living/Dining Room

Julie and Chris Gilbert, a professional kite-boarding couple, have settled down, sort of, in a 100-year-old Oregon home. They want to redecorate and update the two main rooms without losing the bungalow's wonderful Craftsman style.
Nancy Zieg is one of the designers competing on the show. We interviewed Nancy some time ago and wish her all the best.

For our part, working with Dana Allpress (503-295-0123) at Comcast Spotlight was great. She had some solid recommendations and gave us advice how to track the return on investment (ROI) that a small business needs to care about in order to justify any kind of advertising. We were impressed how targeted we could make our message and the range of options that fit our advertising budget.

If you are a small business wanting to take that next step, consider Comcast. We will keep you informed about the success of this foray into TV.

Bev & Mike

Vindalho & Nostrana

Two new restaurant reviews are up at An Exploration of Portland Food and Drink.

Vindalho is the first.

Vindalho was opened a few weeks ago by David Machado, owner of Café Lauro, at 2038 SE Clinton Street, Portland.
I can't wait to try
the pork vindalho over balsamic rice is probably the best thing on the menu, a good balance and depth of flavors. The pork was fork tender, though there tend to be a few dry pieces mixed among the rest. The sauce was sweet, tangy, and fragrant. I’ve had more intense and more complex versions, but the flavors were balanced. A pyramid of light and fluffy saffron basmati rice studded with raisins was served on the side.
Nostrana is the second.
Barely open a week, this is surely one of the most anticipated restaurants to come along in some time. Co-chef Cathy Whims was the chef/owner at the famed Genoa during its heyday. Other owners are Deb Accuardi (co-chef, also owner of Gino’s), her husband, Marc Accuardi, and David West, owner of Produce Row Café.

Located at 1401 SE Morrison, Portland, it can be a bit difficult to spot.

The menu of Nostrana looks very Italian!

Bev & Mike