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Interior design players trade spaces in local furniture market

Interior design players trade spaces in local furniture market

On the surface, it would appear that two staples of the Columbia interior design market have exchanged niches.

Putnam’s Interiors opened Pavilion Furniture in March, two years after Stephen Rust closed Rust & Martin, a longtime fixture in Columbia’s designer furniture market, to open his own interior design company.

It’s not an exact swap, however. Although Rust decided to drop retail to focus on design, Putnam’s Interiors continues its interior design focus.
Putnam’s opened the stand-alone furniture showroom to help its customers make decisions and acquire furniture, lighting and accessories currently not available in the Columbia market. The new showroom allows design clients to experience pieces before purchasing them.

“Columbia has reached a point in development, population, sophistication and metropolitan finesse that we feel it will support the Pavilion concept of well-priced, beautiful interior furnishings for the home,” co-owner Nick Detert said. “Our goal is to provide Columbia with unique, well-crafted furnishings at an affordable price while providing every customer a first-class shopping experience from the moment they enter our doors to the time their furniture is delivered and set up in their home.”

Pavilion began as an import company, acquiring antiquities and one-of-a-kind artwork from around the globe. The new showroom grew out of customer interest in experiencing furnishings firsthand. Through exclusive distributorships with select furniture sources, Pavilion Furniture offers furniture lines that are not available anywhere else in mid-Missouri and previously could be acquired only in large metropolitan areas or through select interior design companies.

Janet Moritz, a longtime design associate of Putnam’s Interiors, recently joined Pavilion as a design consultant, assisting sales associates with their customers in fabric, finish, furniture and accessory selections.
Along with co-owner Ed Rohlfing, Detert has been able to find, develop and expand the company’s role in the Columbia market and expects continued future success.

“Ed and I complement each other as designers and businesspeople,” Detert said. “We generally agree on major topics but have no problem taking different approaches in solving problems or looking at alternative solutions in design. We have worked together over 30 years and have never lost sight of the bigger picture. Pavilion is a good example of this focus.”

For Rust, owner of high-end furniture store Rust & Martin, narrowing his focus and reducing personnel have allowed for his continued success in the Columbia market.

“I was observing demand of the client and could see the need for the business change,” Rust said. “I’m real happy I made the change, and it is great for clients while reducing my level of anxiety and stress as a business owner.”

The downshift to just interior design allowed Rust, a third-generation business owner, to pare down his staff from 16 to three employees including himself, his wife — who performs all administrative duties — and a full-time service delivery representative.

The change minimized his risk of exposure to insurance claims and dramatically cut down on overhead costs.

“We are now a more agile business and respond quicker to our clients,” Rust said. “We have no retraining, regrouping or policy manuals and can just talk about a decision and get it done without any excess baggage. It took a big risk to change, but it was definitely worth it.”

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