When Reinventing Retail in Tupelo, MS…Keep It Casual.
Since 2002, outdoor furniture retailer Keep It Casual has serviced the furniture mecca of #Tupelo, Mississippi with all the major brands of patio furniture and accessories. Meredith Deas Tollison and her father Bill Deas opened the shop as partners to recreate a version of Patio Place, Bill’s first patio shop he opened in Tupelo in 1983. Like all patio shops of his day, founder Bill used to buy containers of patio furniture and sell his wares off the floor. Bill, an expert in the industry, eventually left retail for wholesale and imported containers of outdoor furniture for many years. His family has also known Summer Classics founder Bew White since the early ’60s when Bew was a fabric rep for Avondale Mills, who sold fabric to Bill’s father-in-law’s master retail chain, Hancock Fabrics.
These deep roots and strong relationships drove Meredith to save the company through reinvention after the crippling recession of 2008. Relationships are the most important thing to Meredith, who grew up with the business, traveling with her father to Chicago Market – and an occasional trip to China – since she was a teenager. She graduated from Georgetown, and now manages the vast real estate business of the Hancock family. But the outdoor furniture store has always been close to her heart. So, with blood, sweat and more sweat, she and longtime friend Bill Warren, with immeasurable contribution by Eric, who has been with the Keep It Casual team for over fourteen years, reimagined the Keep It Casual brand into a modern-day success story.
A new, standalone and more visibly located building updated with raised ceilings, polished concrete floors and shiplap feel high–end and service–oriented. The space is more intimate with special details around every corner like an antique piano,
an old walk in safe for the “cushions vault,”
a design work room for fabrics and finishes and a complete bar to serve guests with the hospitality you would come to expect from true southerners, but also a nice touch when investing in luxury goods.
The staff of 5 is well trained in in the merchandise and provides white glove service. The visage is expertly merchandised with unique outdoor accessories that touch on the esoteric like contemplative statues and candles to the practical like mosquito repellant.
The new logo has cues of a sun, a smiling face, and a patio set all paying homage to her dad’s first Patio Place store logo. In fact, she re-hired the original logo designer to rebrand the store. Roots and people are the very heart of what she and Bill do, so much that everything in the new store has a story. Behind the bar is a giant antique Tupelo Diamond Brokers sign, which she put up to honor the history of the building, which housed Fred Rutherford’s jewelry store since 1977. In the lavatory hallway, she has a salvaged Diamond Brokers display case featuring floor plans and antique memorabilia of her Dad’s original store and Fred’s jewelry business. If you get hungry, Tupelo legend Danvers eatery shares the parking lot.
The Grand Opening on Jul 21 – Jul 22 was spectacular! More than 100 guests were in attendance, including family, friends, local politicians, a state representative and live music by yours truly, the “Singing Sales Rep,” Rob Robinson. Bill kept saying how proud he was of his daughter and the guests kept saying how beautiful the store was and that it was the classiest ribbon cutting in all of Tupelo.
But don’t let the pomp and circumstance scare you off; there are very few people on this earth as approachable and likable as Bill and Meredith. But as likable as they are, I imagine it was tough for sentimental people to make so many changes. At this, her husband Chris gushed that he was so proud of his wife, who through sheer will, accomplished a rebranding so different from the original business model (and location!). As a sales rep, I see the successful new paradigm is a store with well merchandised inspirational floor models, high customization, and lots of special orders. While Bill agrees, he says “of course everything on the floor is for sale! Oh, and don’t trip on that hateful rug.” Bill effervesces hysterical one liners at a pace that keeps me breathless from laughter. I often think the dynamic duo, Bill and Meredith need a radio show. With that I’m signing off…but remember, one of the best patio shop outdoor furniture retailers to fly in for a drink is Keep It Casual. Y’all come back now!
Keep It Casual
106 SOUTH INDUSTRIAL ROAD
Tupelo, Mississippi, MS 38801