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Edgar Blazona (RTS #44)

Edgar Blazona Headshot
Episode #: 146
Edgar Blazona (RTS #44)

Guest: Edgar Blazona
Topics: DTC brands, brick-and-mortar


Chris Ressa 0:00
This is retail retold the story of how that store ended up in your neighborhood. I’m your host, Chris ReSSA. And I invite you to join my conversation to some of the retail industry’s biggest influencers. This podcast is brought to you by DLC management.

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Ressa 1:12
Welcome to retail retold everyone. Today I’m joined by Edgar bliss zona. He is the founder and president of Benchmade modern, I’m excited for him to be here.

Edgar Blazona 1:22
Hey, thanks for having me. Looking forward to this. All right,

Ressa 1:25
your tell us a little bit about who you are, and what your business is,

Blazona 1:30
oh, man, who I am, I’m Ed Gribble. Zona, I am the founder and president of Benchmade modern, we are a direct to consumer custom upholstery brand. Our whole thing is all about speed. All about, you know, giving the customer choice, you know, some transparency thrown in there. You know, a lot of those big direct consumer buzzwords that you’re hearing these days. But we tried to take a industry that was, you know, frankly, a mess, you know, in regards to, you know, the transparency aspect, and, you know, all say this sofa, but you can’t have it for, you know, 10 years, it seemed like and so on. So trying to try to break through to that customer in a different way.

Ressa 2:25
Got it. And today, all yourself sales are done. Online direct to consumer.

Blazona 2:32
Yeah, yeah. 100%. We are, you know, obviously marketing to the entire country. Shipping from two different sides of the coast, and so on. But yeah, all of it is done directly to the consumer through the website. Benchmade monitor.

Ressa 2:49
Okay, we’ll talk about wholesale and stores and a whole bunch of other things later. Yeah. Why don’t you tell us a little bit? How did this come to be? Benchmade modern? And when did it start and give us a little bit of the story?

Blazona 3:03
Yeah, yeah, I can step back even a little farther than that. You know, I I dropped out of high school. I grew up in San Francisco. You know, I was kind of a punk ass kid and graffiti artists skateboarder. You know, thought I knew everything. But I knew that I was passionate about design and art. And, and school really just wasn’t cutting it. I was going to school, the Arts High School in San Francisco, which was like fame, if you remember that, that TV show back in the day. But it was, it still wasn’t enough for me. So I left high school. And I started a small furniture company. You know, I was I was, you know, I learned how to weld. You know, by myself literally, like, you know, oh, shit, I hope I don’t like

Ressa 3:55
and what time period are we in right now? Give me Give me a reference point.

Blazona 3:57
This is in the mid 90s. Okay. You know, and so I’m like, I got this janky welder and I’m touching these two things together. Oh, gotta open or die. Trying to figure out how to weld. There’s no YouTube teaching you how to Well back in the day, you know, right. And so. So I started making furniture and, and I started selling it on the side of the road, you know, I would set up, you know, out in front of the bar, and I would set up my little side tables and coffee tables, I’d be out there hawk and my goods, you know, right on the, on a busy San Francisco street. And, and then I and then I was doing like flea markets and all that. And I got noticed by a dealer here in San Francisco, and, and it kind of changed the tide. You know, I I sold my first piece in a gallery. And it was like, Wow, $400 You know, I was rich, you know, like, Damn, you know, and, and so I knew then that that was it. And so I’ve been doing furniture ever since. And after a stint at, you know, learning through Pottery Barn that became my, my, close my business down and went to work for Pottery Barn that became my, my, my furniture college basically, I spent all my time there poking at problems, just so I could go overseas to fix those problems. And so that put me in the factories. Well,

Ressa 5:21
what was your role at Pottery Barn,

Blazona 5:23
I was a technical designer at the time. You know, I took the first job, I could get in there. And I moved my way up into, into designer. But I really spent most of my time, you know, on the design meets development meets fixing problems. And because I actually knew how to, you know, work saws and stuff, I’d, I’d head overseas and, you know, push wood through the soft for these guys and show them like, here’s the distressing we need. And this is back in like the Pottery Barn heyday. And so it was, it was quite a fun time to be there. And it became my college. And then I moved from there. I moved in, I started designing stuff for like Walmart’s and targets and, you know, had some pieces in there and was doing the more mass thing kind of knocking off what we did a Pottery Barn. And at that point is kind of the roundabout way. Getting back to your question. At that point, I started a brand called true modern, and it was a wholesale brand selling to retailers across the country. And it had a website as well. And it was one of the first furniture retailers to start to sell direct to consumer. And so that kind of opened up my eyes. And that was about in 2007 that I that my eyes were opened, I should say I probably started in like 2004. But in about seven, I realized that you can maybe sell direct to the to the customer. And so we we started doing sofas, kind of in a in a bad economy. And we realized that, that all this modern kids furniture that I sold was sitting in warehouses across the country wholesale. But these sofas were basically made to order and I could sell them kind of on demand. And so I started selling them through my through monitored site on demand. And all of a sudden, I realize I don’t want to have inventory anymore, right? I don’t want to wholesale to these retailers, I want to I want to go direct and so early on, we we kind of were at least one of the first furniture direct consumers and, and we took that and I didn’t want to I didn’t want to hurt my wholesalers, you know, you, you come from the from the brick and mortar retailer world, where they where they have tons of you know, wholesalers and I didn’t want to damage those relationships. So I started a new brand Benchmade modern, and kind of did that as a direct to consumer brand and, and raised some capital here in in the Bay Area, you know, this all this this capital taking place for for, you know, online businesses and tech companies and all that and I thought well, why not? And so, you know, after some, some hard meetings with and a lot of nose, you know, I got a few yeses, and then that turned into more and, and, you know, that’s kind of where, where we’ve, we’ve grown from, for sure.

Ressa 8:21
So, a couple things. One, there were some other direct to consumer furniture brands. Alright, isn’t Pottery Barn one in itself?

Blazona 8:30
Yeah, you could argue that,

Ressa 8:32
right? Isn’t that what they are?

Blazona 8:34
Yeah, you could argue that I’m, you know, that, that those brands

Ressa 8:40
Restoration Hardware, right.

Blazona 8:44
Yeah, but I guess there’s, there’s a difference. So and this could you brought this up? Because I’d love to argue this out. I this is what comes up often actually. Because I’d been on the other side of the fence saying, you know, I went to work for Gary and Rh for a while, you know, in the, in the middle of all this. So I’ve, I’ve definitely, you know, battled from both sides. There, there’s a difference in what is called direct consumer, right, versus what it actually is direct to consumer is really just a term for a new brand that has been launched on the internet, you know, that is, you know, coming up that is doing things a little differently, that is a little more scrappy, you know, that that that is pushing the envelope a changing of the guard, as I like to call it, whereas like, say a pottery barn or even a target, you know, target was was you know, buying product from factories and selling it directly to the consumer so, so I think that there’s a little bit of a misconception of what that term means and what its direct translation could be

Ressa 10:00
Sure, aren’t we really talking about? Like, I think it’s tough to say that American eagle who makes their own products and sells it directly to the consumer is not direct consumer. They might not be the new up and coming internet,

Blazona 10:14
Eagle, but American Eagle and forgive me but American Eagle just figured out what the internet was, you know, to an extent No, I’m I’m way over overstating that but but I think that that you know American eagle or I don’t even know American Eagle let’s just take a retailer, you know, Apple in general Apple retailers brick and mortar retailers in general struggled with how do we sell online? How do we sell on the street? Right? Omni retailing? How do we, you know, that was their term? Right? For sure had to have that term

Ressa 10:50
for sure. But my point is, my point is there before, before the direct to consumer, like the internet piece, you tried to make going direct to consumer this new thing. But my pure My point is, as you said, Pottery Barn, Nike, Apple, American eagle, the list goes on. We’re making products and selling direct to consumer, not third party host selling them to other retailers, whether it’s Amazon or someone else for eons. Right. Right. They’ve been doing that for eons. And then, and then we said this direct to consumer, because they had a website now their direct to consumer, and they go directly to me.

Blazona 11:31
And maybe you could use the caveat of, of direct to consumer without a retail presence without a a brick and mortar presence, right? That’s the difference. The direct consumers that are coming up have decided that we don’t need a store now. Now,

Ressa 11:49
that’s changing. I know, I

Blazona 11:51
know. I can I can feel you. Because because we’re actually all change your mind on that. Right? Yeah. And so the worlds are starting to collide. And so that’s what I meant when I said that, that, you know, the quote, unquote, direct consumer that we all know today, minus the pottery barns and you know, the big, big brands like that, but these native

Ressa 12:16
digitally native brands, digitally

Blazona 12:18
native brands are really what we’re calling DTC, right? And yes, we’re all shifting, because what we’re realizing and maybe what we’re doing differently, is we’re actually taking our marketing budgets, right. We’re taking our marketing budgets and opening up a retail store. And that’s the difference, right?

Ressa 12:43
That’s the difference. That’s exactly right. That’s the customer, you said marketing, everyone likes to use this fancy word called customer acquisition costs. So let’s stay on this for a second. Because you look at some of the direct to consumer brands, we look at you know, Warby Parker, just just, you know, went public or decided to go public, and so their financials got shared and their customer acquisition costs are in the, you know, start with a four. And, and yours too. So your customer acquisition costs are in the 40% range. Oh, you’re talking percentage of dragging, you know, what percentage of revenue or your customer acquisition costs?

Blazona 13:30
Gosh, I don’t know if I really want to share that. But what I can tell you is that, you know, Mike,

Ressa 13:36
how about this? How about this? Is it? Is it north or south of 25%?

Blazona 13:45
It’s about

Ressa 13:46
Okay, so

Blazona 13:48
it’s not quite but but it’s very expensive. And I think so when you look at it in this way.

Ressa 13:54
So look at you looked at real quick, if you looked at some of the major retailers in the world, who are primarily brick and mortar, yeah, their occupancy costs or their rent and marketing combined. Yes. Don’t equal that.

Blazona 14:12
Things have happened, right. And this This is coming off of a time right now. You know, we’re, we’re just coming off of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, right? This is our biggest our biggest time of the year. Right. Black Friday has become an online guys biggest time of the year. It’s this weekend. Really, it’s kind of switching our our advertising costs have doubled since last year. Right in, in in an expensive time. Right. So this this weekend and leading up to this weekend. You know, advertising costs in general already high compared to the SC year, but they’ve doubled since last year. So but I think you know, you and I have talked about this in the past. What a, as US DTC errs, move our marketing budget into retail into brick and mortar. It it’s a scary endeavor, right? Because let’s just think about, like, where do these direct consumer guys come from? Right? They don’t come from retail. They come from, you know, they, they launched these businesses, they want to solve a problem. And now you’re telling me I gotta open a store, I gotta come on the other side of the computer and open a brick and mortar store, you know, you know, and have people open your door. Hello, and thanks for coming to Benchmade modern, how can I help? You know, all of those things? It’s so foreign to us. We don’t even know how to put it on the body and

Ressa 15:46
why, but but Edgar, but Edgar to you? How could it be fun, you worked at Pottery Barn Restoration Hardware.

Blazona 15:53
To me, I’m saying I have worked at most of the major retailers, so I get it. But the majority of consumers these days do not come from, you know, from a retail background, frankly, right, they come into it as tech, right? It is a it’s a pure tech play. So when you start talking about square footage, and, you know, dollar revenue, per square footage, and all that that’s like, you know, way over their head, and so, and but but the table is starting to turn. And I think there’s a difference to this starting turn, whether for better or for worse, you probably laugh when I say this. We think about opening these, I’m laughing as I’m saying it, we think about these, opening these brick and mortars as a as a neutral, it doesn’t have to make money, right? You don’t have to make $1 Because my marketing budget is opening up that store, right? And so So I don’t actually have to take a sale in the store. I’m going to use it as an advertising vehicle. And I don’t know if you know if, if that will last, you know, because when you turn into a real business, you know, and you get real people running the show, you know, you’re gonna want those guys are going to want to make revenue at those stores. So

Ressa 17:19
that’s, let’s stay there for a second. Because here’s, here’s something I’ve been talking about. Michael prismon, the CEO of Everlane. DTC brand, yep. He in like the mid 2000s. He got on TV and said, he’s never going to open up a brick and mortar store. And then 2018 He ended up on Jim Cramer, Mad Money. And Jim Cramer’s, like why you open up stores. And he says, what online retailer actually makes money online only retailer actually makes money. And Jim Cramer like looks at him. And he goes, virtually none of them. That’s the dirty little secret. And so my contention is that the stores actually are just the opposite. In general, they’re more profitable. If you look at Warby Parker’s numbers, and you look at their profitability in the stores versus e commerce, I think it’s, I think it’ll open a lot of people’s eyes. I think that the myth is the cost of entry for brick and mortar to open up a store, right? You know, Edgar, and Chris could open up that during Christmas t shirt shop and, you know, online, and that’s pretty, that’s a lot less costly than opening up a store. But the reality is, when you talk about customer acquisition costs and reverse logistics, you sell fancy furniture. When when my wife wants to return something, how does that make you feel?

Blazona 18:43
Well, that’s we did talk about that, you know, going back to the Everlane thing, you know, he he opened up a store right next to me in Valencia Street, right, he spent a ton of money opening up this this little shop, you know, we both basically bet on the ghetto. And I think both of us, you know, took a loss there, I would imagine, but the stores have the stores bring a bit of legitimacy right? Now. You there’s a little bit of pre COVID happening as well in this scenario. And I wonder how that’s going to change things. Right? You know, it’s driven a lot more people to me and online only soap a retailer that goes back to your wife. Now, would your wife ever buy a sofa? Online? That’s a huge hurdle for me, right? Yeah, that’s

Ressa 19:32
a different business.

Blazona 19:34
I have to do so many of these things to make, you know, someone like your wife comfortable with the purchase. Right? And then the return, right. So, you know, and believe me, you know, returning a sectional across the country is not an easy feat, right? And it’s certainly not cheap. And so, I think but but then step back into the retail world into the brick and mortar side, right? So what am I going to do? I’m going to have this shop, I’m gonna have her come down and, and return her custom sofa to the shop. I mean, it’s still a hassle, right? It’s still, it’s still a tough thing for me and, and being a furniture guy, you know, my game is how, you know, I think the real disrupter right now is the retailers that are doing things a little bit differently, you know, in the malls or in the, in the, in the brick and mortar Main Street locations, right. They’re taking specially in the furniture world, you know, we are an industry that used to be in, you know, 10,000 square foot plus, you know, buildings, you know, 20,000 You know, that sort of thing, that’s a lot of inventory to have on the floor, you know, and so on. So how does a retailer, how does a brand furniture brand, you know, condense all that make it into a great shopping experience and putting it into a mall or Main Street location? I think that’s the trick these days. You know, and, and, you know, the mind numbers and warbeast numbers are very different, you know, sure. There’s sunglasses glasses, right. You know, I’ve got big, big, you know, expensive stuff.

Ressa 21:18
Yeah. So, your margins are different, clearly. Right. But let me ask question, you know, you’re in the DTC sphere. All these brands that are not profitable, right, because Simeon Siegel, actually, from BMO advisors, he put out a report on he analyzed a bunch of public companies who sell their brands that sell both DTC and wholesale and cutting out the middleman and going DTC. Yeah, majority of the brands made more money on the wholesale than they did on detest it.

Blazona 22:02
Yeah. You know, talks about that is the founder of bonobo boasts. I forget his name strikes me offhand. But he talks a bit about the deal that he made with Nordstroms and put bonobo in Nordstroms Yeah. And that was a true groundbreaker, you know, at the time, and he said, there was so much value in that deal. You know, to put it into to a big box like that, that could that could move that kind of volume and have that sort of reach built in customer reach. I think that there’s a, you know, what, what, I think that we’re missing here, and you talk about a bit about these customer, these companies not being profitable. And then being direct consumer, and we kind of started this interview off with with that. Yeah, you know, the truth of the matter is, is none of those guys that are direct consumer, right, they’re not actually owned by the factory that’s actually producing the goods. Right. So I think there’s a differentiator there in the sense that, you know, we are a factory, right, and when I, and when I built Benchmade monitor from the beginning, we built a factory. So we’re actually we’re not trying to cut the middleman, because we are the middleman to begin with, right? So. So our margins might look a little different when we, when we run it straight from the factory side, all the way through to the retail side. Whereas an Everlane, a Warby, a bonobo, they’re not manufacturing their own jeans, they’re buying from a factory, and then basically selling them a lot like a Restoration Hardware, a Crate and Barrel or Pottery Barn and so on. Because most of those guys do not own their own factories.

Ressa 23:54
Got it? So, that’s fascinating. Well, let’s go to it. Yeah. When are you going to get a store?

Blazona 24:03
Hahaha, well, that’s something we’re talking about. Right? You know, and it’s it’s such a big hurdle. You know, from a, you know, staffing it

Ressa 24:17
when when you really when you’re past talking about and you’re ready to go, you and I need to sit down in person and we’ll talk through some strategy around it. Well, I’d love

Blazona 24:27
to it’s, it’s, it’s definitely on our list of things. Honestly, it’s it’s on our list of things to do. And frankly, it was on my list of things to do as of last year, and then COVID came around and kind of slowed down. Yeah, it it feels like such a hurdle in the sense that, you know, store managers and I think the personnel side really seems challenging. I would love to know like how you know, just need to know stuff you need

Ressa 24:58
to you need to do what you did. On the the E commerce side, which is you just you’re gonna you outsource everything else you can write on that you run pretty lean and mean for the size company you are. Yeah. You what you need to do here is you need to, it’s about, it’s about the key person who’s gonna run the store for you. And then they have to worry about all that stuff. And you don’t you need some

Blazona 25:22
app that is there that really, where’s the direct to consumer? I mean, I know it’s out there. I hear you Mom guys talking about that. Right? Like, we’re gonna, I don’t fit in because I don’t sell watches or I don’t sell shirts or, or, you know.

Ressa 25:39
So let’s back up. We’ll get there. You and I offline. We’re going to do a lot more discussion about this, because I think I can help here. Okay. On the on the business side, let’s talk more a little bit. Forget about the channel. You’re selling just the business in general. Home category on fire? Yes, it is. Is it? Is it still? Still?

Blazona 26:04
We’re seeing a dip. You know, we’re definitely seeing a dip we’re seeing a slow a slowing. Doesn’t everyone

Ressa 26:11
who bought like everyone bought all these couches and furniture? Like, is there? Like, is there like less couches needed? Now?

Blazona 26:18
There are? Yeah, there are? Well, I don’t know if there’s less sofas, monocle them. Okay. I don’t know if there’s a sofas needed out here or not. But I think that there is a different demand for them. You know, COVID created just one hell of a world when from from a, you know, a sourcing in material standpoint, you know, we got hit with the perfect storm. Most people don’t realize this, but foam was our issue, right? The foam that goes in the sofa. And it wasn’t for the sofa industry. It’s everything. There’s foam in everything that you can think of. And what happened was there’s there’s two main suppliers both in in Texas areas, petroleum suppliers, one of them had its annual, you know, like seven year shut down and cleaned the pipes, and the other one got damaged in those big freezes that happened out that way. So the world so one of the materials that goes in foam was was cut to a half. So all of these retailers had to go on rationing all these factories went on rationing, right. And so everyone’s trying to find a way to get from here and there to get them into their sofas, that’s created a backlog. And the backlog these days is like 25 to 30 weeks, which is frankly what I set out to disrupt, right so now we’ve got this huge backlog, you’re gonna wait 30 weeks to get a sofa? I mean, I don’t know about you, but I don’t like things 30 weeks from now. I don’t, you know, I’ve made it, I’ve made a change by them. And then it’s going to arrive and be like, I read is no longer cool. I want green, you know, yeah. So. So, you know, glue was a problem, you know, we all hear about a lumber, you know, okay, fine, that’s, that’s a cost. But when you can’t get the material, forget pricing, if you can’t get the material, that becomes a real struggle. And, and so then on top of COVID, where everyone’s sitting in their living room, and they’re all trying to, you know, upgrade this janky thing that they’ve been sitting on for 20 years, you know, like, wow, so So you know, and here we are, we’re online, and we’re marketing to you, and we’re marketing to your demographic, in your neighborhood, at your kind of economic scale and all that. So we’re, we’ve got this fine funnel, that’s, that’s, you know, looking at you and trying to decide, you know, and get you to click, and so we’ve seen a huge growth during now, things are dipping, right? But but people are moving right, every time you move, you know, you think you know, at least in our at our price point, right? You think I’m gonna buy this sectional, it’s going to be extra long on the right, shorter on the left, and then I’m going to move well, it’s opposite when you move or doesn’t even fit in the room or so on so so you see that the home sales number is directly calculated into sofa sales. So when home sales are up, so sales are up. And yeah, that makes sense when people move, but it is dropping just a bit. It is starting to slow. Are

Ressa 29:36
your price point? Right? You have time on your side? How price sensitive is your customer? And let me let me frame it up for you a little bit. If you were to just boom, raise your prices 15% but say I’m the only guy who has foam. I can get you that sofa in three weeks. Would they pay it

Blazona 30:00
Yeah, that’s a it’s an interesting question. And we’ve, we’ve, we’ve tried that, frankly, right? We’ve, we’ve, we’ve done that week, we are actually at five weeks, right. And for us, that is an incredibly long time, you know, when the industry is, you know, 20 to 30 weeks, and we’re at five, you know, that’s a pretty, that’s a pretty big thing. Price does play a role, right? Even in, even in, in our category where we’re really a luxury sofa brand, right. And, and, you know, our customers aren’t, you know, just dripping in money, but they have money, right. And so, and so they are looking at the price. And so we’ve tried that, you know, when we raise things way up, you know, this, I think about the CEO of the company that acquired us, you know, he talks a lot about this, like, our people not going to buy, but they, they buy, but there’s more hesitancy, right. And so we think, you know, and just looking, you know, we don’t have a whole lot of data to support this, we have, frankly, just spent the time putting that data together. But it seems that, um, when we’re more expensive, the buying cycle becomes longer. And, you know, and and I’ll lose the prominence, I’ll lose a customer to another online competitor that can reach you. Now, if you’re a brick and mortar guy, right, and you’re in the store, and you’re seeing these sofas, and you’re like, Okay, that’s a $6,000 Sofa, there’s a good chance, you’re not actually going to see another sofa, right. But when you’re online, you know, it’s a $6,000 Sofa, but you’ve got every one of my competitors, also funneling at you and marketing at you. So price becomes a little bit more important when you’re serving up an ad to these customers, or potential customers, you know, given a certain price point,

Ressa 31:59
yeah. There’s the customer acquisition costs, and then customer acquisition costs rise to continue to try to win that battle. Yes, yeah. And it’s,

Blazona 32:09
you know, I mean, you’ll I can see the smile on your face, you know, the, when those costs go up, when those digital marketing costs go up, I would think that that pushes back into, into the brick and mortar 100% Because it gets harder and harder for us to compete.

Ressa 32:26
So we’re going off in tangents, but, you know, thinking about some of the conversations we’ve had over, you know, the last 12 months offline. One of the things that I found interesting, we spent some time on returns. And you mentioned the swatch that you send people. So can you go over the swatch? And can you go over? You know, how you’ve gotten someone over the hump to buy a $6,000 sofa that they don’t sit on first online?

Blazona 32:55
Yeah, yeah. Believe me, it’s a big home. I mean, just a funny little thing. So we, we have these swatches on our site, you know, and if you haven’t, haven’t ordered them, you should, you know, they’re, they’re pretty cool. It’s a box of swatches. There’s, if you hit the All button, it’s like 100 110 Something like that. They’re little like four inch by four

Ressa 33:17
and I’m gonna order them today and I will send it to you and let you not show you how to do

Blazona 33:21
yet order because they’re sweet and it’s something you know, we do two things that I can talk about in the same vein. So we send you these 100 swatches right my whole thing is get them to the customer as quickly as possible get them in their hands immediately be the first one and the best one in the door right when the customer the old fashioned way, with a you know with something a tactile thing that they can feel. So I send you these swatches, you get this giant box, I almost wreck your life even more because now you’re like, holy moly, what should I pick? You know, I’ve got these five blues, what blues Should I pick? Right? What leathers Should I pick and so on. But, but when you get these things, you know, we our customers pour wine on them and chocolate and pizza and all this stuff to try to see if they clean well and all that. It’s really a fun experience, right? It’s part of what we try to do we try to make the furniture buying experience fun, it shouldn’t suck, right? That’s our whole thing. And so, you know, that’s, that’s step one, right? And a little funny thing is, you know, how do I get them over the hump I mean, when I put swatches on the top of my site, you know in the header bar, you know, maybe I get you know, 20% conversion rate when I put the word free in front of swatches, free swatches on the header bar. Now I get like a 35% conversion rate, right it’s it’s crazy. They were always free, right? So so once you get these swatches, then you can go to one of our of our product pages and you can you can hit up Print button or actually, I believe it’s a print out button at the top, we moved it to the top of the page now but but we’ll send you a full sectional printed out on a piece of paper to scale for you to lay out on the floor, to see if it fits the room and or if your family gets in it, if you can lay down in between the arms, all of that, we send that to you as well. So you can get a an idea of a fit and feel. Now, that is one of the tricks that we use to make you comfortable with buying this thing sight unseen. Right? And then there’s 100 day return policy, you know, and then, you know, and all those things that kind of go into it. The reviews, you know, you read some of the reviews, like I had to return itself. I like was it easy? Yeah, it’s easy, you know? Now, not to say that I don’t I don’t hate a return. Right returns are, are hard. But you know, sometimes the product isn’t for everyone. So

Ressa 36:01
that’s really good insights, some clever things that you do that I’ve always thought were interesting. I think we add a way to like and this tell us about you. You mentioned competition a lot, right? Because the furniture business regardless if it’s online, or brick and mortar, this, this is yours. This is not for the faint of heart, right? This is taller stuff, right? It’s really tough stuff. So it’s so in your world who’s like the cruise the competition? Is it the brands we’ve talked about? Like? Because I don’t think you’re like fighting with target and Ashley Furniture? Maybe you are? I don’t know. But

Blazona 36:42
no, no, I mean, like, our our main competitors are the luxury brick and mortar brands, you know, and me, you may that’s an Rh that’s a DWR. And maybe a crate, right on the on the true brick and mortar side. You know, and then we’ve got some some online competitors as well. There isn’t a whole lot of guys in this more luxury space online. So we seem to be that player in the luxury space, or at the higher end, I should say. And that’s why I would say the more of like an Rh and DWR really more of our of our competition. That way, but but you’re not kidding, man, it is, it is a fierce business, you know, that there’s a reason why the furniture side, the upholstery side, for that matter, you know, is the is the big leader in each of those big brick and mortar retailers. You know, that’s what’s driving the dollars in those stores, when you look at it as a category basis. So it’s, it’s a, it’s a massive, massive thing. And, you know, you’re moving massive pieces across the country and trucks and into people’s homes. And, you know, we are really disrupting that world in a lot of ways. And I think that I think we’re also learning something from the traditional brick and mortar retailers, as well, you know, we need to get this furniture into people’s homes, how do we do that? Does it make more sense to have regional people, you know, you know, RH has their own team of people delivering it directly in the door, making things a lot easier. And, and we’re still, you know, getting happy

Ressa 38:25
thought about designers, like, like I can, my wife can call and say like, I’m thinking about this, what do you think? And?

Blazona 38:33
Yeah, yeah, we, that, that is something in our playbook, as well. The, you know, RH does a great job of that, yeah, relate to that home member thing. It’s, it’s impressive. And Gary’s built a, you know, a fleet of people, you know, he was one of the first to have that in the store, you know, you could just walk up and then, you know, and people like pottery, barns and whatnot, you know, also had designs centers in their, in their, in their stores, I think online, it is a, you know, our staff have have, you know, our frontline staff are all qualified to help make decisions. And they do, and we spend a lot of time on the phones with them. I think that’s what makes us pretty special. And a lot of our great reviews are about that process, you know, so and so just, you know, made it so easy, and so on. But we don’t really advertise that. But it’s definitely on our list of things to do. But I think at first call, I think your wife will feel, you know, plenty comfortable, you know, and when we’re asking questions, and then she’s, you know, we’re kind of trying to help, you know, help get her to the right spot when you’re buying something online. Right. This is this kind of interesting thing. The first thing I want to ask you is what are you coming out of, right? I want to know especially I mean, it’s a little bit a stereotypical, so forgive me, but But it’s, you know, the wife that is typically trying to create a new modern space. And the husband who is, you know, likes the old comfy, you know, whatever he’s been sitting on forever, right? And right now what’s hip and cool is lower backs, modernism, you know, a smaller footprint of a product, right? So, so I don’t want to return because I’m selling you a sofa. And the husband’s like, that ain’t a sofa, you know, that’s a, you know, a chair, you know, or something like that. And the wife was like, well, but it’s cool. It’s new, it’s hip, you know? So, my first question to you is, what are you coming out of, right? I want to know, like, what giants so far you actually coming out of so that I can place you or guide you to a sofa that might be a little bit more of a familiar fit, that I’m pushing the boundaries a little bit, you know, and my team is, is capable of doing that and and that’s what we do on a day to day basis.

Ressa 41:05
Excellent. Edgar, where can people find you? You can

Blazona 41:09
check us out at Benchmade And we’re there and in or you can call or, or find us, you know, all over the place Insta and Twitter and all that.

Ressa 41:21
Amazing. Edgar, this was terrific. I really appreciate you coming on the show today, sharing some insights and debate with me a little bit. This was a lot of fun. And when you end up deciding you’re you’re ready to pull the trigger on the store. To make sure we touch base.

Blazona 41:35
You’ll leave my first call. I appreciate it. Thanks for having me.

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