Havertys: In With the New – Going Viral
When it comes to retailers, Havertys is about as old-world as you can find. The home furnishings stalwart was founded by James Joseph (J.J.) Haverty and his brother Michael, in 1885. The first store was located on a street in Atlanta which is now called Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Just two years after its founding, the new company moved to a larger location.
The ensuing years were eventful. Partnerships were entered into and eventually dissolved. J.J. moved to St. Louis, expanded the number of showrooms and moved back to St. Louis in 1894. He continued to expand the business outside of Atlanta. By 1908 the company was operating 17 locations and prospering.
In 1929, the financially healthy company decided to take advantage of the then seemingly solid economy and went public. The month was October. The date was the 1st. Four weeks later the market crashed. Due to the conservative, old-world financial practices the Haverty family endorsed, the company was able to maintain a strong financial position and survive the crash and the ensuing depression.
In 1938, J.J. Haverty vacated the presidency of the company he had founded decades before in favor of is son Clarence, who had started with the company sweeping floors. Talk about old-world ways. J.J. passed away one year later. In 1955, Clarence relinquished the presidency in favor of his son and steep traditions continued.
Now however, the company suddenly indicates a bent to transform its image to appeal to the modern age. This includes carefully cultivating its current message through social media, with a voice toward millennials.
The company’s ground breaking ad campaign features the adventures of a young couple and their determination to show the world the wonder of individual style when contemplating the important role quality furnishings should play in the home. Their statements are generally innocently offered to the faces of adults representing earlier generations. They are in effect, possessed game changers.
Beginning a Google search for Havertys, easily brings up references for Havertys girl. This then offers numerous articles and postings describing the ads and the actress from a variety of sources including Tumblr and Wikipedia. It is not uncommon for postings to include the phrase, I love the Havertys Girl!, followed with glowing reasons as to why.
The Havertys Girl phenomenon has become somewhat of a modern day sensation in addition to sending this elder statesman-like company viral. Googling havertys girl brings up a link to the company’s website followed by a plethora of images for havertys girl, including photos of the actress, scenes from her Havertys commercials and even a cartoonish portrait. Google goes on to offer connections to the Facebook page of the real life actress, comedienne and singer a piece with videos on Tumblr and commercials via YouTube, etc., etc.
Will this noticeably improve Haverty’s fortunes? After struggling through the challenges of the recent recession, as was typical throughout the industry, Havertys seems to be entering a period of positive energy regarding corporate operations. Recently released annual financials revealed a 3% increase in net sales, backed by a healthy 3.6% increase in same store sales.
Havertys recently announced its plan to grow its store count by four during the current fiscal year. This too is a sign of significant post-recessionary progress. When the recession hit, the company had just opened two locations which brought its total to 124. Since then, as with its annual financial numbers, the company essentially meandered through the industry’s economy-based obstacles.
During the recession, fiscal year-end store counts have been stifled between the aforementioned 124 and the current 119. If all goes according to plan, 2015 should see the greatest increase in store count since 2007, a most hopeful sign. A sign likely fostered at least a bit by the viral escapades of Havertys Girl.