Will this high-end Florida locale become a home furnishings mecca?
Clive Daniel Home is headquartered in Naples, Florida, which co-founder Daniel Lubner calls “one of the jewels of the United States.”
NAPLES, Florida – A trendy, high-end city on Florida’s southern Gulf Coast, it’s attracting the attention of the home furnishing industry, both locally and out of town.
According to the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, the Naples, Florida area is home to more than 350,000 people, which provides many opportunities for furniture sales. Although the city itself has a population of just 19,372, it has a median household income of $118,141, according to the US Census Bureau. It also attracts more than its share of wealthy snowbirds and second (and third) home owners, providing an opportunity to sell better, premium merchandise.
“Naples as a city is one of the jewels of the United States. While it offers tremendous wealth, it will bring prosperity with every second and third home,” said Daniel Lubner, CEO and co-founder of top 100 retailer Clive Daniel Home, which is headquartered here. “The restaurants and beaches are fantastic. There is an understated prosperity. It’s not a flashy city, but you’ll see your share of exotic cars.”
Although Naples is considered a hotspot today, it is always surpassed.
“Historically, Naples has always been one of the top markets in Florida. Following the peak of the COVID crisis, the influx of long-term residents from other states has dramatically accelerated its popularity and growth,” said Eric Chien, Robb & Stucky’s President and Chief Financial Officer. “Naples was ranked seventh in US News & World Report’s 2021 ‘Best Places to Live in the United States.’ This year it fell a bit to 12th due to rising living costs like rent for workers.”
Clive Daniel and Robb & Stucky are joined here in the upscale interiors ecosystem by Baer’s, Natuzzi, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams and many others. Chicago-based Walter E. Smithe will soon be opening his first store outside of his home market here.
Colleen Smithe, advertising director for the family-run Top 100 retailer, noted that there are many Chicagoans relocating to Naples and other places in Florida during the winter, and she said many of them have been vocal in asking for their stores to open in their hometown comes with them .
“Florida appealed to us for many reasons. The market prevalence of Chicago-based snowbirds and retirees will help with initial brand awareness when we open,” Smithe said. “We have happy customers who are excited that we are opening in Naples and nothing beats word of mouth. We also pay attention to real estate trends and Florida tops the list in terms of demand. New homebuyers need quality furniture to fill their home and we stand ready to get to work.”
Smithe said many of those snowbirds have decided to make Naples their primary residence in the wake of COVID and the rise of work from home.
“We’ve seen the impact of the work-from-home boom during the off-season in Naples, where restaurants stayed full when crowds typically slacked off,” she said. “Employers have never been this flexible, and it’s not going away anytime soon, if ever. We are seeing many larger Chicago companies downsizing their offices to accommodate the shift to working from home and flexible hours. Where are your employees? Throughout the state and across the country, including Florida.”
She said Napoli will provide a blueprint as Smithe considers other markets in the future. “Our mission is to fulfill our customers’ dreams for their home; this is not unique to the Midwest. Our Naples store is just a start. We have clients across the country asking us to open in their state. Stay tuned.”
While the shift Smithe witnessed was key to moving the store here, local retailers took notice as well.
“Naples saw many full-time residents move downstairs,” said Lubner. “As companies gave people the freedom to live where they wanted, we saw some tech giants move here and make it their full-time home.”
As residents continue to move away from traditional business hubs, Naples and other destinations are poised for growth.
“I think Naples will continue to grow exponentially year after year as its natural beauty, recreational opportunities and planned infrastructure improvements are the backbone of its community plan for success,” Chien said. “Walkability in a thriving downtown business, dining and arts district has become a top priority for new homebuyers looking to relocate from congested cities, and Naples has positioned itself perfectly on this new trend.”
As word of Naples spreads, is there room for more retailers to split shares?
“There is a lot to experience in Naples. The strongest will continue to survive,” said Lubner. “I think based on those historical numbers, there could be some smaller companies that are at risk from additional competition. I hope everyone makes it. With the added competition easing off a bit here and there, I’m worried there will be companies that don’t make it.”