By Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub
City & Shore Magazine
When Keith and Kevin Koenig opened their first City Furniture store in North Miami in 1994 they were taking a gamble. They were unknown and many suppliers refused to sell to them because of fear of jeopardizing their existing relationships. This year the company is celebrating its 45th anniversary with 15 stores (complete list, cityfurniture.com/florida-furniture-stores).
“We worked harder, offered better value, better service and quicker delivery,” Keith Koenig says. “We tried to make shopping fun with video games in the kids’ area and fresh-baked cookies. We focus on what the customer wants.”
City & Shore: What special services do you offer?
Keith Koenig: Right now we are well known for something no one else does. We offer same-day delivery seven days a week. Last year we began free shipping and most recently same-day shipping on mattress sets. We have begun same-day custom order because we know people like choices. We try to figure out what the customer wants and figure out a way to give it to them.
C&S: How do you deliver so quickly? You must have a huge inventory.
KK: We have a close-to-one-million-square-foot distribution center in Tamarac with inventory approaching $100 million. We started our own factory to make upholstery in 2002. We call it the Kevin Charles factory in Albany, Miss., after my brother who passed away in 2001. We created an efficient supply chain for the best-selling groups. We offer four to six covers and 50 different throw pillows. You can customize in millions of different choices. We have modular sectionals in four to six colors that are all in stock and have pillows that coordinate with them.
C&S: What do you see as the latest furniture trends?
KK: One of the most interesting is the popularity of adjustable beds. People have had to pay $1,500-$2,000 for just the base. We worked with a long-time factory friend who is a product genius and offer a line of adjustable bed bases with remote control and all the features. You can upgrade any bed to adjustable for $500. The growth of high-rise buildings in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach has propelled another trend. The high-rise buildings are almost all architectural glass and steel. Mid-century modern is popular but many customers like European modern – stainless steel, glass, white lacquer and upholstered beds with stainless steel frames.
C&S: What charity work are you doing?
KK: We got involved with the Red Cross to help vets get acclimated back in South Florida. We give scratch-and-dent furniture that we cannot sell through clearance to Habitat for Humanity. My late wife, Doreen, worked to help raise $1 million for The Comprehensive Women’s Center at Holy Cross Hospital. I am on the board of the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale and chair of the Broward County Heart Walk. I am former chair of Covenant House, a runaway shelter and am involved in the 21st Kevin Koenig Memorial Day Cup.
C&S: What are your plans for the future?
KK: We are bringing back the waterbed. [His brother started Waterbed City in 1971, hence the 45th anniversary celebration]. My friend Charles Hall was the original patent holder of the waterbed in the late ’60s and my friend Michael Garrity is a great manufacturer. It will be soft-sided like a regular mattress with water inside, look the same cosmetically as your old mattress and use the same linens. A waterbed puts the least amount of pressure on your body. With less tossing and turning you get a better night’s sleep. New improved materials will cause less wave action.