Scott McKearn has imported furniture since 1995. After working as a direct importer of high-end furniture for retailers such as Neiman Marcus, Horchow and Saks Fifth Avenue — and then for his own furniture store, Habitat Imports (now closed) in Baton Rouge, McKearn developed a new concept in 2005.
"I was totally focused on cutting out the middleman mark-up," McKearn says. He opened Discoveries Furniture & Finds (120 E. Morris Blvd., Hammond, 985-345-2577; 318 N. Rampart St., 504-569-0310; www.discoverieswholesalewarehouse.com) in a 15,000-square-foot, open-air warehouse in Hammond in 2006.
"Our mission is to bring in an ever-changing mix of handcrafted, solid wood furniture and accessories at direct import price points that are a quarter to half off the price you would pay elsewhere," McKearn says.
Within a couple of years, McKearn added French Quarter and Baton Rouge locations. Soon Discoveries will launch a second New Orleans location at 2850 Magazine St. The store's furniture selection includes tables, bookshelves, chairs, hutches, benches, vanities and headboards, as well as accessories, mirrors and art.
McKearn and his wife, Cat, make biannual trips to India, Indonesia, China and occasionally Morocco to buy directly from furniture makers and artisans. The trips allow McKearn to blend his passion for furniture and travel. "I am a stimuli junkie and love beautiful, interesting things," he says.
Discoveries' motto is "global style for everybody. Every budget." The stores' selections provide customers with furniture at a variety of price points.
"We have our 'extreme value' stained and painted mahogany furniture from Indonesia that even a college student can afford, and we also have one-of-a-kind items that would cost a small fortune if they were at a typical furniture store or boutique," McKearn says.
Discoveries also offers customized finishes on any piece of furniture. Customers can find matching bedroom, living room and dining room sets in stock.
"A customer can furnish an entire room or their entire home in one shopping session," McKearn says. If a piece a customer likes is at a store in a different city, Discoveries will transfer it to the nearest location for free.
In February, the first franchise location will open in Denver. It's part of McKearn's plan to grow Discoveries Furniture & Finds into a national brand.
"The franchise store in Denver is going to be our first foray into a high-traffic/high-rent shopping center," McKearn says. "This is an experiment for us as we look at expanding into other markets with stores modeled after the new Magazine Street store. ... The success of this location will help to determine our expansion plans."