Merchant Innovation

At 83, Is Ethan Allen Too Old To Be Innovative?

Ethan Allen Embrace New Design

"You can't teach an old dog new tricks" isn't a mantra that's thrown around much in the innovation-obsessed world of retail, but when it comes to brands that thrive off a sense of old-world luxuriousness, determining what and how much of it to change can be a tricky proposition.

At the very least, the 83-year-old Ethan Allen is taking some tentative steps out of its shell and into the world of fast-paced retail innovation.

Ethan Allen announced the opening of a store in the Washington, D.C. area that boasts modern design elements it wants to focus on in all of its stores going forward. Key to the store redesign is an infusion of technology, including large, wall-mounted touchscreens that allow shoppers a greater degree of personalization and product visualization than showrooms alone. Alongside slight tweaks to make the floor plan of the store more open and conducive to conversations with specialists, Ethan Allen CEO Farooq Kathwari is confident the new approach will play into consumers' ideas of what the brand can do for them moving forward.

"This is an Ethan Allen some people may not recognize," Kathwari said in a statement. "The products are relaxed and relevant to today's lifestyles, the technology on the floor is state-of-the-art and the Design Center itself is located where our clients live and play."

It may not be a new-fangled IoT inventory management system, but even a small step forward in brick-and-mortar store design is better than none at all.

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