Famous Tate, open since 1954, stocks and displays more than 60 refrigerators, 60 washers and dryers, 85 major cooking products, 35 dishwashers, and 40 different sleep sets . But even with all of this merchandise, staffers recognize that the store might not have exactly what a client is looking for, which is why a team of merchandisers is on hand to special order items.
The shop also features a section of clearance appliances that have cosmetic defects such as scratches and unremovable “Mondale for President” stickers. Some of these appliances are even luxury display items that need to be sold to make room for incoming models, allowing customers to find the perfect bed, refrigerator, or oven that fits their budget. When clients find what they need, a service department helps them navigate extended-warranty purchases, financing, and delivery options.
Like most success stories, Leader's Casual Furniture didn't start at the top. Founded in a single west Florida show room in 1971, the company now boasts 19 retail show rooms, a 150,000-square-foot distribution center, and an ever-increasing selection of rattan, wicker, and patio furniture. Upon browsing the virtual show room, visitors find rattan dining sets, beds, and entertainment centers as well as wicker tables with stone or glass tops. Custom fabrics and tropical-themed pieces add personal flair to interiors or exteriors, and an online room plannerhelps customers get a feel for how chosen pieces will fit into their homes.
When Peter Santangelo became president and owner of his parents' nursery business at age 17, he carried on his parents' horticultural expertise and the Santangelo entrepreneurial spirit to make his business a success. He traveled all over Florida to cull his botanical inventory, and over the years he expanded the nursery and even started doing his own farming.
A winner of the 2011 and 2012 Best of Suncoast silver award, Canterbury Farms employs botany buffs who tend to 43 acres of Florida-friendly woodland plants that include palms, shrubs, and tropical herbage. The lush, green landscape is punctuated by colorful exotic plants as well as by Amigo, a cartoonish fiberglass statue that once perched on the roof of Peter’s parents' nursery decades ago. Pensive green thumbs may solicit shrub-related style from Canterbury Farms experts by bringing in photos of their outdoor or indoor spaces, and free estimates are also available for landscaping projects.
At The Plant Stop, rows of lush foliage and vibrant blooms flourish amid sunlight and open air, surrounding visitors in hundreds of draught-resistant shrubs, flowers, and trees. Pat, a plant expert with more than 25 years experience in the landscaping business, runs this horticultural haven. Along with a staff of expert nurserymen, Pat helps customers select exotic plant life and nurture classic foliage such as flowering trees. He works with growers across Florida to stock the store's lush pathways with more than 20 varieties of clay-ball-rooted palm trees, which can thrive for many years without being staked or finishing elementary school.
At The Plant Stop's design station, landscapers chat with patrons one-on-one to draw up complementary landscape designs that incorporate plants tolerant of Florida's climate. The customer-focused staff also delivers trees free of charge.
Carolina Factory Outlet's interior stylists sup up homes with an array of factory-direct furniture pieces. Step into a 16,000-square-foot warehouse and sift through scores of decorative duds, such as Westbrook four-piece bedroom sets, with dresser, mirror, nightstand, and headboard made from oak-tree skin ($299+). Carolina Factory Outlet stocks more than 150 pairs of table lamps ($99–$199) that light up rooms more effectively than a Chia Head filled with sparklers. Three-packs of entertainment tables ($317/set) liven up soirees or solo TV-dinner interludes, and rocker recliners ($277) usher in quiet time spent lounging in sequined Lycra suits.
At more than 1,200 Mattress Firm locations around the country, shoppers sink into plush mattresses, recline on firm beds, and belly-flop onto pillow tops. Knowledgeable staffers can help customers create an ideal bedtime environment by dispensing advice based on sleep preferences and illuminating the difference between the many kinds of mattresses. And to the delight of their customers, much of Mattress Firm's bedding wears the label of a premium brand, such as Sealy, Serta, Simmons Beautyrest, or Stearns & Foster.