Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Another furniture store bites the dust in Kuwait

Freedom Furniture at 360 is closing for good.  I WISH I had known earlier because I love their furniture and they had some great deals. I went there yesterday to buy a tablecloth and that's about all that's left there (150x200 black or white linen table cloths are 6kd each]).   There are a few odd tables, chairs, and I think 2 sofa sets and some small items.  Everything has been reduced by 75%. They have a lovely set of 6 wicker-style dining chairs with arms selling for 20kd each (they only have 6 - I need 10).

It is a shame because I really liked their items.  But alas, it seems that the Kuwaiti norm of marking everything up by X-hundred percent got the best of them:  Their items were consistently overpriced.  I don't think they ever advertised either and were located in a kind of out-of-the-way place in the basement of 360 near Geant.  I rarely saw other customers

I don't understand why furniture stores just don't get it:  good quality at good prices equals return customers.  Look at Ikea (okay, quality is kind questionable, but overall it is okay):  They've survived in the market for years and have expanded.  Banta, with a similar business model, is doing well (but I don't find their furniture comfortable - whereas Ikea furniture is).

There are certain furniture stores in Kuwait that mark their items waaaaay above cost and then expect customers 1) not to notice and 2) to continue to shop there.  They might get one or two hits from the same customer, but they won't be repeat customers (loyalty is a 2 way street). (... and alas, the big spending days of CSA and the likes are gone.)

And hey, you can copy just about anything by bringing pictures and fabric to any of the furniture maker dudes in Dajeej - at 1/4 of the price of retail.  (Which is why most furniture shops in Kuwait don't allow photography.  Nice try.)

Back to the point of my story:  there is no longer Freedom in Kuwait....
(But we already knew that.)


Anonymous said...

I usually scurry through 360 to buy Krispy Kreme donuts for the office, and I feel depressed to even walk through it. It's like a high-end mall in purgatory. Although I buy Prada, Gucci, etc. like the next girl in Kuwait, I would never buy high-end items in this mall, I would feel too depressed to even fork out my wallet. I wouldn't even care if the prices were less, I rather pay higher and feel great by arm-wrestling an Emiriti woman at the Dubai Mall for the last Chanel bag. Not only is the marketing off in Kuwait, but these malls need to move it up a beat, it is a proven fact that malls need entertainment to move merchadise in a global economic downturn. The last time I went scurrying through this mall, they did have some classical music blasting at the cafe, well that's a start, but they need to work on their advertising techniques such as utilizing open wall space to advertise stores in the mall that have less foot traffic. Kuwait is in a recession, or is the government not telling them? As far as being located by Geant, Geant caters to the subcontinent labor force and they would not purchase this furniture, so along with the penicillin that they are growing in the salad section at Geant, because subcontinent workers don't buy ready-made salads and they sit, it is not advantageous to position a store like this in the basement next to Geant.

Desert Girl said...

Anonymous 11:10 - I'm sorry, but you sound like a terrible snob. Was that your intention?

Anonymous said...

360 Mall's direct competitor is The Avenues and if you notice there are no Al-Shaya stores in 360My point was that 360 is trying to portray this mall as a high-end mall with store that compete with The Avenues, yet it lacks any sort of vibe. It's location however is great for attracting that Kuwaiti buyer who craves high-end merchandise, but I question their current success level. Kuwait is in a recession and should be creatively marketing their merchandise better now. You are also dealing with a country with no tourism and a nation of people that prefer to spend their money overseas. Malls are a very good business, backed by a huge capital risk and requires a very long term vision. I am also saying that 360 lacks vision and does not support their vendors, unlike most landlord-retailer relationships worldwide, which reflect partnership and understanding of the economic climate, spending patterns, and the importance of retail mix, landlords are just looking for the next takers for their extortionate rates, regardless of whether those tenants will have to end up closing a year or two later. I suspect that this mall is just landlords who want to charge exhorbitant rents and really don't care to support their tenants by managing the mall's atmosphere. I personally would not want to spend money in this mall because it depresses me and that doesn't make me a snob, it makes me cautious shopper. Vibe it very important in a mall and entertainment has played a key role in successful malls throughout the world. Kapeesh Kuwait?

American Girl said...

Good thing Anonymous 11:10 isn't advertising for the mall -- I got a little depressed reading their reply.

Expat and the City said...

This is my second attempt to comment. Blogger is fussy this week. :P

I like 360 Mall. The only problem I have is my own fault. I somehow always miss that darn turn and end up lost. LOL! I know...I have major driving issues. No sense of direction except in the desert. Still, couldn't 360 have a BIG flashing sign that says, "TURN HERE"!

Anonymous ~ I fell asleep in the middle of reading your comment. :P heehee

Anonymous said...

Can someone hook Anonymous up with a date?