Fostering Recession Growth through Outreach
Harmony Designs Furniture & Interiors in Mount Vernon was founded in 2004 with the philosophy that absolutely anything can be made fabulous. Founder Robin Harmon-Myers had bought a dilapidated, 100-year-old building in Mount Vernon’s shopping district that was so rundown, a visiting Con Edison rep said it should be condemned. Still, she has managed to turn it into an elegant 2,500-square-foot retail store and design studio. So, when the recession hit a few years later and sales began to taper, Harmon-Myers was ready to re-make her 2,500-square-foot retail store and design studio and ensure its survival again.
A new focus on in-store events like do-it-yourself workshops, community outreach (including a makeover of a teachers’ lounge in a local school), and design consultations—at reasonable prices in a notoriously pricy industry—drew clients from all over Westchester, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. The result has been a 10-percent increase in new clients since the early days of the recession.
“The in-store events help remind people how much we have to offer,” Harmon-Myers says. “We’re not just selling stuff but educating customers on lifestyle and what it means to leverage who they are and what they have to thrive.” The consultations, she says, have also been a big boon, and she’s made sure to reach out to as many clients as possible, from private homeowners to realtors looking to spiffy-up a house for a sale. Harmon-Myers says she believes the combination of services, events, and vending (tireless, she also sells gifts) is unique in the county and has been at the core of her success as customers’ needs shifted and budgets tightened.
“Business is good because customers find value in our products and services,” she says. “The end products exceed expectations, and we make them affordable.”