Before I get started today I want to remind you to save the dates, August 25th-27th, for the Seena Magowitz Golf Classic that will raise money to fight pancreatic cancer. This is without a doubt one of the best events of the year but don’t take my word for it, check out a few of THESE PICS and you can see for yourself. I was asked to be the Honorary Chairman this year and I really want to help make 2018 big for them, so please join me and help us fight this really horrible disease!
If you haven’t been around mattresses too long, you probably don’t know, that without waterbeds we wouldn’t be where we are today as an industry. It’s true. There’s a lot of great retailers out there that started out selling waterbeds and City Furniture is one of them, so when I was invited to go see their new waterbed product launch, I didn’t hesitate to make the trip to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
I started out visiting their Rest and Renew concept where they’re selling Spink and Edgar and was able to say hello to Luci and Carlton the managers there. They are in the middle of a great neighborhood and have a beautiful boutique mattress shop. My thanks to Luci and Carlton for all that they do and for rolling out the red carpet for me; you guys are awesome.
After that I was able to get together with Kevin Split, the head merchant of the mattress category for City Furniture and he gave me a full-blown tour of their operation. I have never been through a business so dialed in to operational efficiency. Their understanding of continuous improvement concepts and living that culture in every department blew me away. If you haven’t visited one of their stores recently you need to check it out and see for yourself where retail should be going. We talk a lot about the e-commerce platform being disruptive to the brick and mortar channel. Fact is, if you want to insulate yourself from that you create experiences that give consumers a reason to visit your store. City Furniture is doing that.
The best part of the trip, however, was getting to sit down with Keith Koenig the owner and CEO of City. Keith is a great guy that got into the business with his brother Kevin back in 1972, making and selling waterbeds out of a 900 square foot store in Ft. Lauderdale. Their business, Waterbed City later turned into City Furniture and the rest is history.
The new waterbed brand is called Afloat and Keith’s team is ready to get these in the bedrooms of his customers. His partners include Charlie Hall the original patent holder on the waterbed which dates back to 1968, Garry Ikola who is the Senior VP of Sales for City, and Steve Wilder who is their current CFO. Together these guys are going old school and launching a line of waterbeds that they hope will bring back all that was good about that business. The waterbed experience isn’t going to be for everybody, but there are a lot of raving fans for the waterbed feel and they perform well according to Keith. “They have better pressure relief for less tossing and turning, less capillary restriction for better blood flow, and you can control the temperature for a great sleep experience.”
All I know is that if you have one of these beds and you’ve had too much to drink, it’s best if you keep one foot on the floor or at least that’s what my brother tells me.
Speaking of brothers, that’s one of the great things about Keith, he does an incredible job of keeping his brother’s memory alive at the company. There is a great private label program named after Kevin called Kevin Charles, and I am sure that this passion project was done with his brother in mind given the fact that it was he who started this whole waterbed thing over 47 years ago. I love when companies stay true to their culture and roots.
My thanks to Keith and his entire team for inviting me to be a part of their event and a special shout out to Gurtegh Singh the project manager who made it all come together. Well done!