Pelham-based indoor furniture line explodes in popularity
Story By AMY JONES
Photos Courtesy of Summer Classics
While many Shelby County residents know — and likely own pieces by — the Pelham-based furniture company Summer Classics, not everyone knows that Summer Classics is now the biggest luxury outdoor furniture company in the United States.
The company was founded in Pelham by Bew White in 1987, moving to larger facilities in Columbiana and then Montevallo before moving back to the Moore Handley building in Pelham, where it remains today.
The company is now working to corner the indoor furniture market too, with the rise of Gabby, Summer Classics’ indoor furniture and lighting line.
Rob Robinson with Summer Classics says the Gabby line focuses on “transitional and eclectic furniture and lighting.”
“We use unique materials like faux shagreen, horn and bone, cut stone like alabaster and onyx, parchment and vellum and metals with layered and distressed finishes,” Robinson said. “Each piece makes a compelling statement without overpowering a room.”
Robinson says the Gabby line is often mixed with French and English antiques. In fact, the company’s buyers travel every year to find “inspirational pieces,” known as Unique Finds, which are offered for sale at company xtrade showrooms in Dallas, Atlanta, Las Vegas and High Point, N.C.
Robinson says Gabby is one of the fastest-growing furniture companies in the country. In 2014, the company was ranked by Inc. magazine as one of the Top 1,000 fastest-growing companies in America.
“Very few if any furniture companies ever make this list,” Robinson says.
Gabby’s sales numbers bear out that ranking, as Gabby is “without a doubt” Summer Classics’ most popular line right now. Sales were recently up by more than 40 percent, Robinson adds.
Gabby, like Summer Classics, is truly a Shelby County company.
“We design everything in Pelham, from pencil and paper to showroom floor. We have a state of the art quality control lab and an in-house design department,” Robinson says. “Our corporate core values are near and dear to our hearts. We believe deeply in family, obsession with design, relentless attention to detail, integrity, pace and exceptional business results.”
While Summer Classics was founded by Bew White, Gabby was founded in 2010 by his son, William White.
“In 2008, Bew was encouraging his children to get to know more about the business. We imported antiques to create a look in our 13 retail stores. It was a very difficult business to manage, but it seemed to tempt William,” Robinson says. “After just two years of studying the indoor furniture market, writing a business plan and developing a line of new products, William opened the first Gabby showroom in April of 2010. It was an instant success, even in the pit of a crippling recession.”
William White didn’t have to look far to find the perfect name for the new furniture line.
“William named the company after his grandmother, Gabriella Comer White. The matriarch of the family was worldly, well-spoken and strong in her faith, making a deep impression on William,” Robinson says.
Even though Summer Classics made its name by focusing on outdoor furniture, the Gabby line brings balance to the company with its focus on the indoor furniture market. Gabby furniture is designed to be transitional, which means it is equally at home with traditional or contemporary styles.
“It makes our overall company healthier,” says Robinson, who added he believes the Gabby line is so popular because “it is a sophisticated, high-style look at an incredible value.”
Some of their most popular pieces are the Janice chest, Cyrano coffee table, Jolene side table and Katrina chandelier.
Summer Classics and Gabby are located at 3140 Pelham Parkway, which also includes a retail showroom open to the public. For more information, call 358-9200 or visit Gabbyhome.com.