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Pottery Barn? Providers catalog the pros and cons

Pottery Barn? Providers catalog the pros and cons

pottery barnYARMOUTH, Maine – Pottery Barn’s foray into home accessibility has raised a few eyebrows in the HME industry, but providers say it’s an opportunity to raise the bar. 

The upscale home furnishing chain in September announced it had launched Accessible Home, a line of products that includes power lift recliners and adjustable beds, to enhance quality of life at home for everyone, including those with disabilities and injuries, and those aging-in-place. 

“I think it’s inevitable that existing significant retail business eventually come into the marketplace in some fashion,” said Mark Nicotera, founder of AZ MediQuip in Arizona. “I think HME retailers should be challenged to be better merchandisers, better retailers. We’ve all been somewhere where there’s no price on the products or there’s no rhyme or reason to the store layout.” 

Pottery Barn certainly isn’t the first major retailer to eye the attractive demographics of the aging-in-place movement. Lowe’s and Home Depot, for example, offer wheelchair ramps, bath safety items and walk-in bathtubs. 

What those big-box retailers can’t match, say providers, is service. 

“We get people in here who come away from Lowe’s and Home Depot,” said Kevin Brown, an owner of All Star Medical Supply in Tennessee. “Nobody knows what’s going on or they (tell the customer) ‘I’ll have somebody call you.’ There’s that extra step and nobody wants extra steps.”  

Providers have seen increased demand in the past several years for attractive, high-end equipment from consumers looking for more than traditional bent metal – and they have the cash to pay for it, they say.  

“I think there’s demand for premium products – we’ve proven that,” says Nicotera. “That should be something manufacturers and others who aren’t in the retail mindset should see and work to develop those products.” 

Providers say they are more than ready for any new challenges in the market. 

“Having Pottery Barn will make us better if they are serious about it,” Lane Hamm, CEO of AZ MediQuip. “We’ve got a lot more experience in the space, but I think it’s going to be fun.”


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