Chris Etheridge, Conn’s, Senior Buyer

The July 23 issue of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® features the 19th annual Impact Merchants special report. Housewares suppliers, representing the categories that HomeWorld covers, once again were asked to nominate buyers and merchandisers believed to have made a significant impact during the past year.

The selection of the 19 Impact Merchant winners is not intended as a definitive list of the best merchants in housewares retailing. Votes went to several more merchandisers than those featured. This year’s honorees represent buyers in given categories that received the majority of votes by vendors polled.

Voters were asked to give added weight to merchandising creativity, trend and marketing astuteness, attention to detail, openness to risk, flexibility, relationship building and the ability to deliver a profitable program for both the vendors and retailer while providing value to consumers. One thing this year’s Impact Merchants share is a vote of respect by their vendors. In today’s unpredictable retail environment, that vote really counts.

Chris Etheridge, Conn’s, Senior Buyer

The nomination of Conn’s HomePlus buyer Chris Etheridge as an Impact Merchant is based on his experience, savvy and ability to generate sales.

Conn’s operates as a specialty retailer, running 118 locations in the U.S. across most of the southern region. Furniture and related accessories for the living room, dining room and bedroom are a critical core operation with traditional and specialty mattresses a critical adjunct. Rounding out the Conn’s product lineup are home appliances ranging from refrigerators and freezers to ranges, to washers and dryers, consumer electronics, such as televisions, home office products including computers, printers and accessories, and seasonal items.

Given the nature of the business, Etheridge is in a critical position. Recent evidence suggests that the team behind the furniture operation at Conn’s is performing well.

In the first quarter, ended April 30, Conn’s total sales slipped slightly from the quarter the year before. If other categories declined, however, the furniture, mattress and home office categories increased sales.

Conn’s appointed Etheridge senior buyer, upholstery, in November of 2014. Before that, he was named senior case goods buyer for Conn’s in 2011 and held that title until 2015.

A vendor commenting on Etheridge’s performance noted that he is an astute and experienced merchant who is aware of trends and how those trends translate when it comes to Conn’s customers and their preferences. The vendor also noted that Etheridge is analytical as he considers assortments and understands how to build profitability, which certainly qualifies him as an Impact Merchant.

2018 HomeWorld Business Impact Merchants (click on name for profile):