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Cracking mirrors: can Stanley grab upscale share?

NEW BRITAIN, Conn.-- While Stanley Hardware practically owns the commodity frameless mirror business, the company may not have an easy time getting a big share of the decorative mirror market.

Buyers who have seen it say that, while Stanley's first-ever decorative mirror line is fashionable and the price points seem "in line" with the rest of the market, the category is saturated with vendors.

"There are mirror specialty companies, and most picture framing companies have mirrors, and we buy from both," comments the buyer for a national chain. "Stanley is fighting both. It appears that there are a lot of mirror lines that they're up against."

"We're trying to do what everyone else is trying to do--expand-but, today, retailers of our size don't want to shift supplier bases," the buyer says. "We require EDI, special packaging. We're looking for stability. We just can't bounce from vendor to vendor."

The buyer concedes: "It's difficult for any new supplier who wants to break into a category."

"It was a great new line," says Gay Peyton, senior interior designer and accessories coordinator for Heilig-Meyers. "We deal with several mirror vendors and one of them invested heavily in a new mirror wall for us, so we don't have a need for a new mirror vendor right now. But it had great variety and had things that other companies didn't have. I liked the wrought iron and some empire pieces. I liked the quality and thought the price points were in line.

"I thought it was a great line," remarks the buyer from a national plumbing and electrical chain that services the commercial and residential markets.

"The wrought iron was probably the look that stood out the most for us," the buyer continued, adding that the firm has been looking for a new line of mirrors. At the time of the interview, the company had not yet decided to place an order, according to the buyer.

Stanley executives were not deterred.

"We have real high hopes for the furniture and specialty channels. We think we can provide exceptional quality and customer service," comments Thomas Feeheley, vice president of sales for Stanley Home Decor, the division created to market decorative mirrors.

"We want to be the value line when it comes to mirror decor," he explains.

The collection features mirrors in a wide array of sizes, shapes and framing materials, from traditional to country and contemporary. Of particular interest are mission-style wood framed vertical styles, several country-inspired and casual iron pieces with bordered in twisted iron with scroll and leaf motifs, and white-washed teak designs with gold leaf accents.

Suggested retail prices range from $99 to $349.

"We've had some very good response from some very prominent retailers," comments John McPherson, national sales manager for Stanley Home Decor.

"Overall, crossing all channels, the wrought iron, the teak, the window panes and mission styles, in terms of value, were very well received," McPherson says. "Orders coming in right now indicate it."

Stanley is promising a two- to three-week turnaround on all orders, a prepaid freight program, delivery from two factories and extended customer service hours, McPherson said.

Stanley Home Decor is a new unit of the Stanley Hardware division of The Stanley Works, the $2.5 billion consumer products powerhouse known for its tools and hardware.

Stanley entered the mirror business in December 1991 when it acquired Monarch Mirror Door. Stanley supplies mirrored doors and other large plate mirrors to glass shops, home centers and the building materials market.

The company also makes an opening-price mirror line for hardware and home centers. The frameless mirrors retail for between $5.95 and $99.95.

"We're the largest supplier of frameless mirrors to the home center industry," Feeheley notes.

Stanley's mirrors are produced in two company-owned silveringplants in Tupelo, Miss., and Chatsworth, Cal.

Stanley's move into the decorative home furnishings arena is part of a corporate strategy to expand sales and distribution. Executives explain that the company has the infrastructure to service and manufacture enormous quantities for national accounts and still address the needs of small independent stores.
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Title Annotation:Stanley Hardware
Author:Meyer, Nancy
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:May 15, 1995
Words:679
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