Walking through the newly opened Clive Daniel Home showroom in Sarasota, you’re bound to feel inspired. Bright colors and an abundance of strategically placed lighting welcome you into the showroom. At first it feels like a regular furniture store, but then passing through an area with $3,500 candles through to the escalator, you realize it’s entirely different.
The second floor is home to The Beatles, or at least four small conference rooms named after and branded with an image of each Beatle, where clients can discuss decorating possibilities with team members. The second floor is also home to an outdoor area that showcases outdoor furniture and includes a tap and TV for events with a wall of windows and operable garage doors that overlook Interstate 75. Back on the first floor, visitors can take a load off in the cafe with the smell of freshly baked cookies wafting through the air.
This showroom is in Fruitville Commons, a mixed-use project east of the Fruitville exit of Interstate 75. The 70,000-square-foot store and showroom opened two weeks ago with 50 employees, which puts the total CDH payroll at around 270 people. The showroom is a place that would be hard to leave, and easy to stay for a few hours, what with its unique features and variety of furniture, rugs, window treatments and more to purchase.
But with construction materials, land and furniture costing between $18-20 million, Clive Daniel Home co-founder Daniel Lubner, would appreciate if you bought something at the end of your stay.
The bottom end of a three to five store strategy has been fulfilled with this being the third Clive Daniel Home showroom; the others are in Naples and Boca Raton. When asked if the company is looking to continue that strategy to number four and five, Lubner’s eyes lit up and he says with a snarky grin, “shut your mouth! We just gave birth to 70,000 square feet. Let it rest.”
In a more serious answer, Lubner says the next thing on the docket is a new warehouse. The company has three currently. Lubner was ready to move ahead with another about eight months ago, but with the economy as it is that project has been put on hold. He also hinted at a small store or satellite studio strategy, but isn’t ready to dive into what that would entail. “We need to let this breathe a little bit,” he says.
Clive Daniel Home, which posted $87 million in revenue in 2021, opened the Naples showroom in 2011. The Boca Raton location opened in 2016. Reflecting on the first decade in business, Lubner says the goals he sets now stem from worrying about failing that first year of being open. Lubner co-founded CDH with his dad, Clive Lubner, the former CEO of Robb & Stucky until its 2011 liquidation. "Starting a company in the middle of a recession, everything was a 'have to,'" he says. "I had to make sales otherwise I wasn't going to make payroll."
Once Boca Raton location opened, it was a more relaxed environment. They didn't make 'have to' decisions rather it was 'need to' decisions. "Here, there's not that pressure to 'have to' perform on Day One, but I have a fierce loyalty to my designers," he says. So a short-term goal is to make sure the designers have projects that they can "sink their creative teeth into."
Opening the Sarasota location was a homecoming of sorts for Lubner, who says he and his wife got their start here. "Sarasota was always a 'when,'" he says. "It was very close to being my second store. We worked on a land deal that made a little more sense in Boca, which is why that ended up being the second store. I was waiting until prices dropped, and labor and design was readily available, but (with) the 2020 migration to Florida it just seemed like this was the right time."
The company purchased the land in October 2020 and crews broke ground for the building in July 2021. Thousands of motorists could see the progress, given the building's prominent location in Fruitville Commons. That offered a nice piece of marketing, and Lubner says the response to the new location has been overwhelmingly positive.
"September, historically, is the slowest month of the year," he says. "The first weekend we had over 200 groups here, which is eight to 10 times more traffic than we would expect on a regular basis. That's without a grand opening or ribbon cutting. That's just simply a post on Facebook and (an article) in the Business Observer saying we're softly open."
Amanda Postma is a business reporter covering Sarasota and Manatee counties. After graduating from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in 2018, Amanda was a reporter for a small-town newspaper in Missouri before becoming a marketing associate for a career resource startup in St. Louis.