Steinhafels’ “Direct Designs” Furniture – It’s More Than Just a Slogan!

Here at Steinhafels, our Merchandising Team and Buyers are always looking for ways to bring you the best products, at the greatest value. We pride ourselves on carrying a vast array of styles, and staying on top of the latest trends, while still offering traditional pieces as well. As humans we are all unique, and our stores reflect that – offering something for everyone!


You may have noticed “Direct Designs” in our ads, and on signs across our stores. It’s not just a slogan – the title has true meaning to back it up. It’s a special branding we’ve had on many of our items for awhile, but we wanted to go more in depth into what it actually MEANS.


In a nutshell, “Direct Designs,” are a result of our buyers traveling across the nation, and the world, to find the best manufacturers. This eliminates the middleman and passes the savings directly to you, our customers.

One of the coolest things I’ve learned since starting to work here is that our buyers travel quite a bit – across North America, and even Asia, to develop relationships directly with the factories producing the beautiful goods we sell in our stores.


The two main furniture categories that highlight this aspect of our business are Upholstery and Case Goods (Dining and Bedroom). Elaine Haskey and Dawn Still are the lead buyers in each area, respectively. Thanks to these busy ladies for taking the time to explain just what we mean by “Direct Designs.”

The main idea behind “Direct Designs” is eliminating the middleman. Can you briefly talk about this, and why it’s such a good thing for us AND the customer?

“It’s good for the customer when we work directly with factories, because every dollar saved goes back into the quality, features and benefits of the product. In essence we pass the savings on to the customer, and that equates to more value. It’s also good for us because we have something that’s unique and available only at Steinhafels.”


Our buyers travel the U.S. and the world, finding some of the best deals and most unique items. Do you like that part of the job?

“Yes, traveling to the factories allows us to build relationships and tweak the product design, as well as communicate our quality standards.”

For Bedroom and Dining Room specifically, what makes these products special?

“The products reflect the latest trends and features, and we can bring these to the customer quickly.”


For Upholstered Furniture specifically, what makes these products special?

“The products feature higher quality materials: Better grade fabrics and leathers, generous padding around the frames, and the newest technology in reclining furniture.”

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As a buyer, is it a rewarding feeling to be so involved in the design and creation process of these items?

“It is a great feeling to be involved in the creation of furniture that’s up to our quality standards –  furniture that we would own personally.”

“Direct Designs” is selling well. Why do you think this is?

“When customers see our Direct Designs product, they quickly realize that they are getting a great product at a great price.”


I presume a lot of furniture stores have similar programs – what makes ours special?

“Actually, very few furniture stores in the nation have a similar program. For it to work, the company must be large enough to buy in quantity and negotiate great prices.”

Thanks Dawn and Elaine for giving us just a little peek into the process of picking the fabulous furniture we sell in our stores. Come check out our “Direct Designs” selection, today!


Steinhafels Sales Interns 2017: What They Learned

Customers may have noticed that some of our Sales Associates this Summer were a little… ahem… younger than others :) That’s because Steinhafels has a thriving Sales Internship Program! It gives college students a chance to work in our real-life sales environment for an entire summer. This is the 3rd year for the program, and each summer it gets about double the applications of the previous year. Some of our interns even go on to be full time staff members!


Jane Peterson is the Recruiting Manager in our HR Department. She says having a hands-on internship program just makes sense for a close-knit company like Steinhafels–where customer service is the number one priority. “Several of this year’s interns will be staying on part-time while in school this next semester. As graduation gets closer for them we will start discussions about full-time positions, and possibly leadership roles within the company.”  


Peterson says she feels each year the program improves, thanks in part to feedback from the interns who have been through it. Organizers have enhanced the training so students learn more in a shorter period of time, and can hit the sales floor running as soon as possible. Peterson says that has led to this year’s interns doing exceptionally well on the sales floor!


It’s interesting to see things from the “intern” point of view–students who are just beginning to enter the adult workforce. I think we all get so wrapped up in our jobs and lives, we sometimes forget that excitement we used to feel on the first day of a new job, or as we began a new career. We asked each intern to reflect on a variety of topics–the internship, challenges, fun moments, what it means to be a “millennial”, future goals, etc. Here’s what they had to say!

Taylor Allen, Appleton Store, UW-Eau Claire


Taylor will be a Junior this year, and will actually be graduating in a total of 3 1/2 years! She’s a Marketing Major and hopes to pursue a career in Sales.

“I originally applied for this internship because I had a great first impression with Jane, who was recruiting at my school. I also really liked the fact that this internship gave you the opportunity to learn about all of the aspects of a business. I wanted to be able to gain more knowledge in the business field, and I felt that this internship would be the best opportunity to do so.”

Andrea Beck, Waukesha Store, UW-Whitewater


Andrea is a Public Relations Major with a Minor in Advertising. She’s going to be a Senior.

“I’ve have had two other jobs and have a job at school. My first job was at a cheerleading gym in Sussex, WI. I coached athletes of all ages, taught tumbling and stunt classes, and also worked camps. Last summer I worked as a beverage cart girl at The Legends at Bristlecone. At school I work in our computer labs and answer all calls made to the university. This internship is my first full-time job, so that was a little hard to adjust to, but now I don’t really mind it. One of the similarities in all the jobs that is that I work weekends, so that wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for me. Working at Steinhafels has been really fun and I have met some awesome people through this job. Although, I have learned that retail may not be for me. I would not be able to work off commission, and do not see myself wanting to work weekends the rest of my life. Also, this is my first “professional” job, so dressing up everyday is fun but can be a little tiresome. (I know I will have to for my future jobs as well!) I would say the biggest difference is the age of co-workers. I am not used to working with so many adults. The ratio of younger adults to older adults is usually opposite at my other jobs. I can’t complain though, the other employees have been great and really fun to work with.”

Bailey Corbin, Waukesha Store, UW-Whitewater


Bailey is in her final year as a Human Resources Major, and will graduate in the Spring.

“I would say that people are most skeptical about millennials because they have a different way of working and thinking. Many people don’t like a large amount of change, and with technology rapidly growing the way it is, older adults do not consider that daily tasks both at home and work can be done in non-traditional ways. With that being said, the amount of time taken for tasks and responsibilities can be cut in half due to millennials coming up with tech-savvy short cuts, which can lead people to believe we are ‘lazy’ when in reality it is just considered to be futuristic. How this can be applied directly to Steinhafels actually has to do with the new Dashboard system. Many Sales Associates did not know there was an area where you can leave notes about client development until I pointed it out to them. No one taught me there was this Client Development section, I just naturally decided to browse/explore to see what the new Dashboard system offers, and found this area. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I was trying to prove myself as a millennial with this action, but more-so just help my co-workers by pointing out this new feature in which they can organize and save client notes to refer back to. Moving forward, I hope the bad reputation of millennials can diminish over time, and people can come together to use old and new techniques in order to succeed in all aspects of life.”

Katie Dietlin, Madison Beltline Store, UW-Eau Claire


Katie will be a Senior, graduating with a degree in Marketing in the Spring.

“I think the biggest issue I dealt with this summer on the floor was competition and making myself ‘significant’ on a saturated sales floor.  I overcame that by being polite and not taking a hostile approach to customers, while trying to treat my fellow sales people with respect.”

Kate Hugo, Kenosha Store, Carthage College


Katie is a Senior Graphic Design and Marketing Major.

“I chose this internship because I felt that it did an amazing job encompassing/showcasing a company as a whole. I truly enjoyed learning about each department and how they affect and are affected by other departments. I think it’s vital to view companies as cohesive units and fully understand the benefits and consequences of the choices I make on other areas of the business.”

Yosiah Jamison, Kenosha Store, UW-Milwaukee


Yosiah will be a Sophomore this year, and was the youngest intern in the program. He’s Double Majoring in Marketing and Supply Chain Management.  

“The hardest thing about this internship was in the beginning, gaining credibility with such a small amount of product knowledge. I overcame this by utilizing my down time at work to study up on manufacturers, and go through the product knowledge site. Which is by the way, such an amazing tool. Thanks JR!”

Kristen Johnson, Oak Creek Store, UW-Stout


Kristen will be a Junior, and is Majoring in Retail Merchandising and Management with a Concentration in Buying and Product Management with a Minor in Business.

“After I graduate, my goal is to be a buyer. Right after I graduate I will probably be in an assistant buyer position and work my way up to buyer. This internship has helped me realize that possibilities are endless in any company. Before this internship I never saw myself selling furniture, or the opportunities Steinhafels and the furniture industry have to offer. I now know that wherever I go there are endless opportunities for growth.”

Alex Kravitz, Waukesha Store, UW-Whitewater


Alex is going into his Senior year and Majoring in Marketing.

“Absolutely I would recommend this internship to others! It was a great opportunity to develop myself both professionally and personally. Steinhafels really invests a lot into their program, much more so than other internships I have heard about. We actually jump directly into sales, not busy work where we are grabbing coffee or gathering leads. The skills developed during the internship are very beneficial whether one decides to stay with the company or not–but it’s an incredible company to stick with–not to mention the resume building and networking it offers! If people are ready to take an internship seriously, I would highly recommend Steinhafels.”

Delaney Mielke, Oak Creek Store, UW-Madison


Delaney is going into her fourth and final year of college, and is Double Majoring in Spanish and Retail & Consumer Behavior.

“My proudest moment at Steinhafels and the coolest item that I have sold this summer has been the Patriot Rocker Recliner during our Golden Ticket Sales day. I was working with a Spanish speaking family, and it was the first time that I was able to say I used both of my majors at the same time! I not only got to help a customer find a great deal, but working with them helped me see how far I have come in both speaking a second language and in working in retail. I rarely view Spanish and retail as similar, but it was a moment when all that I have been studying at school finally all came together in a real life setting. It was a moment that I did not even think would be a possibility, but will definitely stay with me after this internship.”

Kevin Miller, Menomonee Falls Store, UW-Eau Claire


Kevin is going into his Junior year. He’s a Marketing Major with a Professional Sales Emphasis, and Science of Coaching Minor (Kinesiology).

“I thought the various department training was very eye opening! For me, it’s all about relationships, and building on them upon meeting new people. I really liked the Merchandising/Buyer training, as it entailed many aspects of the business (especially sales!) A few things it entails in my opinion include: The visuals and design aspect, negotiation and relationship building (like sales), and the analytical aspect from an operations/ marketing analytics standpoint of what is hot and trending.”

Nick Rech, Menomonee Falls Store, UW-Whitewater


Nick is a Senior Majoring in Marketing.

“As far as being intimidated on the floor… I do not have that feeling. Everyone at my store is very nice, and they don’t try to push their weight at all. As for tricks to gain customers’ trust–I like to find something to talk about that isn’t furniture, and get them more comfortable with me. This could be talking about sports, hobbies, or my internship and where I go to school. This has worked fairly well for me on the sales floor, and I have heard the same from Kevin!”

As you can see, not all of our interns major in Sales. Many are majoring in Marketing or other related fields. Peterson adds, “This internship focuses a lot on leadership as well, which can apply to almost any job.”

Do you know someone who would make a great Steinhafels intern? Applications are accepted starting in November!!

Check out some more pictures from this Summer’s Internship HERE.

Yosiah also had a funny and inspiring presentation on the final day of the internship. Check it out HERE.

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To Market, To Market… Hot New Trends

As someone who is still relatively new to the retail furniture world, I can truly say that some aspects of the business still really fascinate me.

One of those aspects is how the heck we decide WHAT to put in our stores! I mean our superstores are huge, and we carry some of the top furniture lines in the business, but at the end of the day, there is still a ton of furniture out there that we don’t carry.

What I’ve learned is that it’s a VERY precise business. Our buyers do a ton of research to determine the best fits for our store.

All of that research culminates in Market, which is held several times a year–in North Carolina and Las Vegas.

For this blog, we’re going to take a look at the most recent Market–the Spring High Point Market in beautiful NC. According to the Market’s website, more than 75,000 people flock to this small Carolina town every six months to take part in one of the furniture industry’s biggest trade shows. The “Market” is made up of 180 buildings, 11.5 million square feet of showspace, and 2,000+ exhibitors from more than 100 different countries.


Upon their return from the Tar Heel State, I asked our buyers to give me a little sneak peek into what’s hot this season, and what it’s like to be at Market.

Elaine Haskey, Upholstery

“In the world of Upholstery we were really excited to see Boho, or ‘nuevo hippie.’ It’s very colorful, almost Middle Eastern looking…like items you would find in a bazaar. The pieces are made from very thick fabrics full of color.”

-Modern looks that span all price ranges, both in fabric and in leather. That modern look is also coming into motion furniture.

-Power lumbar continues to be big in motion. Power recline, power headrest, and power lumbar allow the lower back to be supported.

-BOLD colors: Like chartreuse, yellow, and burgundy

-BLUE is still really big, which confirms what we’ve been doing as a company


Dawn Still, Case Goods

“Being in Case Goods, what we’re looking at is new wood finishes, distressing of the wood, and the wire brush look. It literally looks like someone beat up the piece of wood. Grays are hot. Also a dry finish, and tons of wood species: Acacia, walnut, bleached white oak, and mango to name a few. We are also seeing more multi-functional pieces.”

Jenny Kordus, Accent Furniture

“Accent Furniture vendors are really focusing on multi-purpose pieces–like bookcase piers, cabinets that could be storage or wine racks, tables that can also be used for the office, and that’s just to name a few. Farmhouse is still a big trend, as well as whites and off-white. And barn doors are everywhere!”

Teri Hayden-Kalis, Rugs and Accessories

The trends I saw repeated the most in the showrooms:

-BLUE: All shades of blue accessories and rugs everywhere–Navy, Turquoise, Peacock   

-GOLD/ANTIQUE BRASS: Gold and brass are back, as you may have been noticing on all of your clothing lately (zippers, buttons, etc)… and showrooms are also filled with brass accents and accessories.


-MONGOLIAN FUR PILLOWS: These are everywhere! They come in every color, go with anything, and add tons of texture.

This is some great insight into the hottest furniture trends for this spring and summer. But I also wanted to know a little bit more about the market itself. What is it REALLY like to attend, and what are some tips for those who may be checking out Market for the first time?

The biggest reaction from our buyers: Wear comfy shoes!! Buyers typically log about 6 miles a day, walking from appointment to appointment.

This spring, our buyers also had to compete with rain basically the entire time. When you compile that with 12-15 hour days, it takes some of the glamour out of the experience!

High Point Market Spring 2017 pic with courtesy

But all of our buyers agree Market is a great event for our industry, and a vital part of networking and developing relationships with vendors.

Jenny says it’s also a chance for the buyers to grow closer. “We don’t always get to hang out at work, so it’s nice to be together, have ‘family’ dinner.”

Teri adds, “My favorite thing about market is seeing all of the new products and designs displayed in gorgeous showrooms. Most showrooms are reset and redesigned for every market.”


And believe it or not, Market is just the START of all the work for our Merchandising Team! Dawn explains, “You come back and you have to execute. The market is the easy part.. then you have to follow through with the vendors.”

As I’ve learned through my first couple years of working at Steinhafels, the world of furniture is beautiful to gaze at and enjoy, but there is sooooo much work that goes on behind the scenes to make it happen.

I will continue to share some of my discoveries in this blog… so stay tuned!


DS Tip of the Week: Fabulous Fabric

One of the keys to design is not skimping on the details.  We often think about things like color and pattern when choosing a piece… but don’t forget to think about the fabric!

Our Steinhafels #DecoratingSolutions Tip of the Week asks you to think about fabric in a new way.  Fabric is one of the most important factors when selecting upholstered furniture.  Steinhafels’ custom furniture program gives you the option to select the fabric color, texture, and style that’s right for you.

This week’s tip comes from Appleton Interior Decorator Laurie Hoffman.  Laurie suggests, “When selecting fabric, look at the fiber contents.  Polyester is very strong and has excellent abrasion resistance.  It is also one of the easiest fibers to clean.  Olefin is another strong manufactured fiber.  Cotton is a strong, natural fiber.  In addition, it has a soft hand and takes dye very well, resulting in luxuriously deep colors.”

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Also, don’t forget blends!  They can give you the best qualities of multiple fiber types.  We post a quick and easy decor tip every Monday.  Check in next week for another #DSTipOfTheWeek.