Bernie Caspick knows furniture — and how to sell it.
The Moncton man has conducted about 50 furniture store liquidations since 1996, including the recent bankruptcy sell-off at The Living Room and The Bedroom Shoppe.
“Whitehorse to Corner Brook,” he said of his work-related travels, which require him to spend months in hotel rooms far from home.
He’s been in Red Deer this summer, overseeing the bankruptcy liquidation of the related furniture outlets in Liberty Crossing, as well as their sister stores in Calgary and Okotoks.
“Since the 27th of June we’ve had two days off,” said Caspick.
“It’s been a real grind.”
Nonetheless, he’s managed more than a million dollars in sales in just over a month.
Caspick’s formula for such retail success?
“I keep it simple.”
That includes a marketing plan that generates excitement among local consumers.
“If you want to make money in retail, first you have to invest in the advertising,” he said.
Another key ingredient is conducting the sale in a high-profile location — even if it means renting space away from the store. And third, he doesn’t allow sales to fizzle as the showroom empties.
“The secret to a sale is to keep it full until the final week,” said Caspick, who supplements liquidation inventory with new stock.
“I can get product on a handshake,” he said of the relationship he has developed with furniture manufacturers over the years.
Everything is subject to “bankruptcy pricing,” Caspick added, explaining that this is possible when you conduct a short-term, high-volume sale.
“If you do a year’s business in seven weeks, you can take a much smaller margin.”
The duration of his liquidations is determined by the buyers’ appetite, he said.
“There’s one rule that I stand by: the consumer will tell me when they’ve had enough. When they stop buying, time to stop the sale.”
In the case of The Bedroom Shoppe and The Living Room, the local sale was scheduled to wrap up yesterday. Remaining goods were to move to the stores in Calgary, where the liquidation continues.
Caspick first ventured into retail after earning a degree with an English major from the Royal Military College at Kingston, Ont.
He found work at Wacky Wheatley’s TV and Stereo in Halifax, where he demonstrated a flare for advertising. That led to requests for help with other retailers’ marketing, and in 1990 Caspick launched his own advertising company.
“My salary went from six figures to low fives, real quick,” he recalled.
In 1996, one of his clients — a furniture retailer in Chatham, Ont. — indicated she was closing. Caspick suggested a going-out-of-business sale.
“She said, ‘I will, but you have to do it.’”
The outcome was positive, and Caspick was soon getting calls from other furniture stores.
Eventually, a separate liquidation business resulted.
“At some points we were doing up to four sales at a time,” he said, confirming that his focus has shifted from advertising to liquidations.
“The going-out-of-business business was rather lucrative.”