Get the Feet Off the Floor
Competition from diverse furniture outlets demands a sharper sales pitch for home theater seating…
By Janet Pinkerton
In late November, Costco.com was selling a three-piece home theater sectional in black leather with "power recline" for $2,169.99 (shipping and handling included). BestBuy.com offered a Berkline Leather Home Theater Recliner with two straight arms for $999.99. Meanwhile, furniture stores also are targeting home theater seating. La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries, for example, offers its own line of "home theater friendly" products. Faced with such competition, C-tailers are sharpening selling strategies for home theater seating. Lured by furniture's relatively fat margins, C-tailers have learned not to give away the seating sale. Now they must work a little harder to keep it.
Harvey Electronics CEO and President Franklin Karp says home theater seating is "becoming a very significant business for us." The New York-area chain has expanded its selection with offerings from Acoustic Innovations and Salamander Designs. "When we took the chairs out of the theater and used them in merchandising our small theater vignettes, we created an atmosphere that showed we're in the business," says Karp. "You can't show one chair. You have to show a range, offer a selection of prices and materials. We made that commitment and sales have accelerated." Seating opens "a lot of doors," he adds, noting that Harvey is "doing a lot more chairs, more acoustical treatments for rooms, more finished theaters. The more one-stop shopping we can provide to our clients, the happier they are with us, and the better off we are."
At suburban Philadelphia's HiFi House, A/V systems designer Harry Blanchard sells seating as a part of the total media room package, along with wall treatments, wall sconces and fiber optic stars on the ceilings. Blanchard notes, however, that home theater seating makes a huge visual statement, whereas no one notices acoustic wall treatments. "Sometimes the rooms sell the chairs, and sometimes the chairs sell the rooms, but the important thing is to get [the customer] in the room with both," he says.