By Carolyn Weber What's In Store?

Schumacher Design Studio, Akron, Ohio

Best design center

Schumacher Homes may have built the design center of all design centers. At 2,500 square feet, this establishment is more like a retail store than a design center. It offers one stop shopping for everything a new-home buyer could need. "Time is precious for our customers," says Mary Becker, director of sales and marketing for the 10-year-old, scattered-site builder, "so we offer one stop shopping from rooftops to countertops."

In addition to selling the standard options and upgrades, this retail store sells complete home furnishings, even to people who aren't new-home buyers. The store is flanked by six permanent furnished model homes, where shoppers can check out floor plans as well as see sofas and chairs in a real residential setting.

"For years our customers have come through the models and wanted to know where they could purchase the furniture," says company president Paul Schumacher. "There was a definite need in the marketplace."

Schumacher keeps the retail business separate from the building business. With input from former customers and designers from all over the world, he created a private label of high-design, comfortable, casual furniture at an affordable price. Designers will even come to the customers' home and create a space plan.

"The first weekend (April 6, 2002) we had over 3,000 people come through, and the traffic to date is about 10,000," says Schumacher, who estimates that street traffic, not home buyers, comprises more than half of furniture store customers. Home buyers get better pricing, though; they become members of a club that allows them 15 percent off home furnishings for life. "We also include the interior design service and delivery," Schumacher says.

Builder: Schumacher Homes, Canton, Ohio; Retail store design: In-house; Marketing consultants: The Idea Partner, Vancouver, B.C.; Ad agency: Strada Advertising, Denver

Wide Open Spaces

Serrano "Join the Space Program," El Dorado Hills, Calif.

Best color ad--master planned community

Open space is a priority for buyers considering master planned communities. This serene and inviting color ad certainly speaks to that desire with its simple, yet dramatic image. The ad ran in San Francisco and San Jose, Calif., area newspapers, appealing to residents fed up with congestion and rising housing costs. Fifty percent of Serrano's buyers come from the Bay area, and when the ad ran, traffic reached a total of 12,000.

Builder: Serrano Associates, El Dorado Hills, Calif.; Ad agency: The Dunlavey Studio, Sacramento, Calif.

City Slicker

425 Fifth Ave., New York

Best color ad--single project

This glamorous ad, for a condominium project with prices over $10 million, conveys the chic, upscale lifestyle associated with life on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Designed to mimic a fashion ad, the reverse type on a black background is quite eye-catching and differentiated this project on a cluttered newspaper real estate page. The ad accentuates the building's greatest asset--the view. It increased qualified traffic by 20 percent.

Builder: Davis and Partners, New York; Marketing: The Marketing Directors, New York; Ad agency: Chavin Lambert, New York

Return to Urban Outfitters