Many businesses associated with the housing industry have been challenged with meeting the demand of their customers since the pandemic broke out more than a year ago.
Matt Dart, owner of Pierce & Parker Interiors, said his home furnishings and interior design business on St. Simons Island has been busy trying to meet the demands of new residents to the Golden Isles and existing customers looking for home improvements.
“Our showroom is over 17,000 square feet, and customers can come in just to get inspiration for their project or buy furniture, lighting, rugs and accessories directly off the floor,” he said.
Dart said his business tracks the housing market closely.
“People tend to buy furniture when they’re moving, and many homes in this area are second homes, which also require a lot of furnishings,” he said. “Also, people engage interior designers on the front end of building projects, so new construction also brings design work. When real estate is hot, we’re busy.”
When customers come into his business, Dart said they want to see beautiful and interesting items.
“They want to be inspired, to understand how today’s trends can work with their current belongings, and to see the potential for the spaces in their home,” Dart said. “They also want help – they want someone they can trust tell them where they’re going to get the best bang for their buck, what styles will work the best for their space, and, importantly, understand how the way they use their space should inform their design choices.”
Window treatments are one of the most popular home interior improvements trending right now.
“We sell anything that goes on your windows – blinds, plantation shutters, Roman shades, draperies, etc.,” he said. “We have an enormous number of fabrics to choose from, and our designers are experts in designing draperies. There is a lot that goes into drapery design – you need to think through the hardware, fabric, lining, trim, pleat style, length, placement on window, etc. Get any one part of that wrong and you’ve wasted a lot of fabric!”
The biggest challenge right now is getting furniture in a timely manner, he said.
“This is such a crazy time in retail furniture,” he said. “Demand is through the roof at the exact same time that there have been a number of supply problems – delays in shipments from overseas, shortages of raw materials (especially foam used in cushions), raw material price increases, new tariffs, plants shut down due to COVID outbreaks, etc. All of that has resulted in insanely long lead times – what used to take a month to receive is now taking three or four or more.”
Dart said that has led to adjustments such as placing large stock orders to ensure the store is full as a way to make it easier for customers to get what they need with waiting months for a special order.
Austin Williams, owner of Austin Williams Interiors, said his customer base is a mix of existing residents and people from outside the region who have bought homes in the Golden Isles. There has been a noticeable increase in business since the pandemic.
“It definitely took off about a year ago,” he said. “It’s the busiest it’s ever been here.”
Longtime clients are redoing rooms because they are spending more time at home. They want to make the rooms more functional or to create a different vibe, Williams said.
For clients moving to the Golden Isles, Williams said he can guess the region they are from by their tastes. Clients from the South like more colorful fabrics, while clients from the North like more neutral focused, cleaner lines in their furniture, he said.
Window treatments are popular, especially motorized blinds, some with timers to prevent sun damage to rugs and furniture.
Performance fabrics, those that can withstand the outdoors but also work well indoors, are growing in popularity. Williams said about 80 percent of his fabric sales are performance fabrics.
“It’s super-durable,” he said. “Everyone wants performance fabrics.”
The challenge for new home owners in the Golden Isles is find a quality contractor in a timely manner.
“It’s awful,” he said. “Everything is selling out.”