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Obelisk Home expands products for younger demo

Ten-year-old store closes temporarily for renovations

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As Obelisk Home reaches its 10-year milestone anniversary, the interior decor store is aiming to expand its demographic reach.

The downtown store, at 214 W. Phelps St., Ste. 101, temporarily closed as part of a renovation that at press time was scheduled to conclude Nov. 9 and reopen for business the next day.

“We’re primarily doing a total reset of our floor, changing up the appearance of the front,” said J. Kent Martin, who co-owns the business with partner Nathan Taylor.

Martin said the 9,000-square-foot sales floor is being rearranged to accommodate new merchandise and provide a fresher look. It’s a roughly $50,000 project, including new merchandise purchases.

“Our hope is that when they walk in they feel like they’re in a different place. It’s still designed fashion-forward but just to bring in that younger demographic who’s maybe not looking for a whole house redo but pieces here and there,” Martin said.

Obelisk Home largely has reached consumers in the 40-65 age range, he said, but now they’re targeting 30-40-year-olds.

“We’ve been talking about wanting to attract a younger audience. It just seemed like 10 years rolled around and we might as well do it all at once,” Martin said.

“We will be showcasing one of our in-house brands, JKM Home, that we design, produce and sell to retailers all over the country. We’re going to have more of that exhibited here after this renovation.”

Martin noted JKM Home’s accent furniture has grown to around 20 percent of Taylor-Martin Group LLC’s sales, which includes Obelisk, Unleashed Life pet furnishings and accessories and BridgeBlue Sourcing Partners LLC, which creates furniture and decorative accessories. BridgeBlue products are sold at retailers Neiman Marcus and Wayfair.com, among others, he said.

The JKM product line, which started in April 2017, is still relatively small but growing, Martin said. Last month, the Obelisk owners introduced about 24 new JKM designs at the High Point Market, a biannual home furnishings industry trade show in North Carolina. The show typically has 2,000 exhibitors and 75,000 attendees to tour some 11 million square feet of show space, according to HighPointMarket.org.

“We’re up about double in revenue that we did last year with the line,” Martin said, declining to disclose annual revenue of the Taylor-Martin Group companies.

Through JKM Home, Martin said he’s bringing a more personal design aesthetic to products than those he’s done for years to meet the needs of major retailers and wholesalers.

“I decided that we should do something that is more in keeping with my personal tastes and the aesthetic of what Obelisk Home does,” he said.

The line is produced at a factory in the Philippines, where Martin and Taylor have done business for the past 17 years through BridgeBlue. The factory is located at Clark Air Base, a decommissioned former Air Force base Martin said has been partially turned into a free-trade zone.

The Obelisk Home storefront originated as an outlet for BridgeBlue production.

“It just seems like yesterday that we opened the doors,” Martin said. “It’s kind of grown into its own animal.”

Product was designated for a small spot on the first floor of the three-story center city building he and Taylor own, and the partners expanded to the current size in 2013.

To mark the 10th anniversary, the owners decided to tell customers about the renovation plans in an attention-getting way – an email blast through 417 Magazine that said in the subject line “Obelisk Home is closing.” It was only by scrolling down in the email that recipients would see the closure was only for a week in conjunction with the anniversary. Martin joked that the email scared a lot of people, including their own banker, Barbra Wallace at Central Bank of the Ozarks.

“I thought if we said Obelisk Home was closing, that would get us some attention,” he said with a laugh.

“We had more people open that email in the first hour than we’ve had ever for some campaigns total. So it worked. We had people calling who didn’t open the email but just saw the message.”

Martin and Taylor hired Monticello Custom Homes & Development for the renovation work. Owner Jason Bekebrede said he’s known the Obelisk owners for a few years, and he’s worked with them on a half-dozen residential projects the last two years. The owners reached out to Bekebrede in September for the work at their shop, which took around a week to complete.

“The biggest challenge was just the timeframe,” Bekebrede said. “But everything worked out well.”

Martin said they also chose to use the first decade in business as an opportunity to benefit Habitat for Humanity of Springfield, with the organization to receive 10 percent of store sales for a month, beginning Nov. 10. In addition, raffle tickets for 10 items in the store will be sold through the end of November for $5 each or five for $20. All proceeds from the raffles will go toward Habitat for Humanity.

“Something for the consumer, something for charity, but giving back is a big part of our company culture,” Martin said.

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