Remade Robb & Stucky opens Naples furniture store Saturday

Corey Perrine/Staff 
 Sandra Spiro, an advertising employee, takes plastic off cushions Thursday, Jan. 10, 2012, at Robb & Stucky International furniture and interiors store in Naples Fla. The new 60,000-square-foot store opens to the public at 10 a.m. Saturday. The VIP grand opening celebration will take place Thursday, Jan. 17. The store is located downtown on the southeast corner of Third Avenue South and U.S. 41.

Photo by COREY PERRINE, Naples Daily News // Buy this photo

Corey Perrine/Staff Sandra Spiro, an advertising employee, takes plastic off cushions Thursday, Jan. 10, 2012, at Robb & Stucky International furniture and interiors store in Naples Fla. The new 60,000-square-foot store opens to the public at 10 a.m. Saturday. The VIP grand opening celebration will take place Thursday, Jan. 17. The store is located downtown on the southeast corner of Third Avenue South and U.S. 41.

Editor's note: The previously posted story should have identified the nationality of new Robb & Stucky owners Samuel Kuo and family as Taiwanese. The story has been corrected below.

NAPLES _ The name is old, but the look is new.

Robb & Stucky is back, but with new owners and a new vision that becomes clearer with the opening of its newest store in downtown Naples.

The two-story, 60,000-square-foot store a block north of Fifth Avenue South opens today. It's Robb & Stucky International's second store, but it's the first one built and designed from the ground up.

Taiwanese furniture magnate Samuel Kuo and his family purchased the Robb & Stucky name, its logo and its client list after the Fort Myers-based retailer was forced into bankruptcy by its creditors in 2011.

"We are a completely different company. I think it confuses so many people. There are different owners and different managers," said Steve Lush, Robb & Stucky International's president.

The new store at 355 Ninth St. South mirrors the style of the new Robb & Stucky inside and out, more transitional — a marriage between traditional and modern.

"It's brighter, more open — with more natural light. It's more traditional in style," Lush said from the comfort of a plush Marge Carson chair a few days ago as workers scrambled to put the finishing touches on the store.

Shoppers will notice a wider variety of styles and prices. The old Robb & Stucky became known for its heavy ornate, European-style furniture and high prices, Lush said.

"Great design doesn't have to be expensive," he said.

The goal was to keep the best of the old company, while making it more relevant for today's customers, he said. The new company strives to offer the same great customer service, along with quality furniture, top interior designers and strong community support, Lush said.

"We know there was some damage done to the name during the bankruptcy," he said. "But the brand that has been built over a 98-year period doesn't lose all of its value overnight."

Robb & Stucky, founded in 1915, had stores in Florida, Texas, Arizona and Nevada, all liquidated in the bankruptcy.

About a year ago, the new owners of the Robb & Stucky name opened their first store at the former company's old headquarters in Fort Myers, 13170 South Cleveland Ave. That showroom is the same size as the one in Naples, but the new one is far different with what Lush describes as a "racetrack" design that makes it easier to get around the entire store, instead of having a winding path through smaller rooms.

The new store focuses on six different lifestyles, including classical, tropical, modern and what the company dubs as "retropolitan," a category that offers casual furnishings with natural wood tones and organic fibers designed for a younger set.

Robb & Stucky Worldwide Distribution Facility

Robb & Stucky Worldwide Distribution Facility

Inside the store are large departments dedicated to patio furniture, area rugs, window treatments, wallpaper and flooring. Customers can order custom built-ins and cabinets from Habersham Plantation from Georgia.

Sofas also can be customized by size, fabric and style, down to choosing whether to give them skirts.

Customers no longer have to "settle with what's close enough," Lush said. "They can design exactly what they like."

Customizing is important now, he said, adding: "People don't want what they see in everybody else's house."

The store has 24 interior designers to work with customers.

Though the owners of Robb & Stucky are foreign, most furnishings and accessories are purchased from American manufacturers and much of it is made in North Carolina. The new showroom offers many of the same brands as the former Robb & Stucky stores.

The new showroom created 45 jobs and some of its employees worked for the old Robb & Stucky.

Though it has yet to open, curious shoppers already have walked up to the store, some of them coming from nearby Fifth Avenue South, a popular street for shopping and dining for locals and visitors alike.

Naples Mayor John Sorey described the new showroom as "absolutely stunning," applauding Robb & Stucky's multimillion-dollar investment and its creation of jobs downtown. About 200 workers were involved in construction, including contractors.

"I think it's going to be a catalyst to that whole area," Sorey said of the furniture store. "Hopefully, there are people who want to continue to come to that area and that will do that sort of thing."

In Collier County, the former Robb & Stucky had two locations: a patio store and a showroom. The old 85,000-square-foot showroom was taken over by Clive Daniel Home, a new furniture retailer founded by Robb & Stucky's former CEO Clive Lubner, and his son, Daniel, who headed up Robb & Stucky's hospitality division.

As far as competition goes, Daniel Lubner welcomes it.

"We are looking forward to seeing what their vision of the brand is," he said of the new Robb & Stucky owners. "Often times, American-owned companies and Asian-owned companies have different views on fashion. So we always appreciate other people's insights into the industry."

He said Robb & Stucky's former customers have been thrilled with the new direction the Lubners have taken with Clive Daniel, which offers a variety of styles and prices.

"Naples is already filled with some great competition, which bodes well for the consumer," Lubner said. "Ultimately, it comes down to making sure you have the right product and the right people to represent your brand. There is a large market."

Lush agrees. With so many stores, he said, Southwest Florida is becoming a furniture shopping destination, drawing customers from other parts of the state.

"Nobody is going to drive very far to go to one store," Lush said.

An official grand opening for the Robb & Stucky store is scheduled for Jan. 17.

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