The Sunshine Economy: From Water Beds To Today

Aug 27, 2013

In the 1970’s it was water beds. In the 1980’s, Keith Koenig sold dinette sets. Now it’s couches and entertainment centers.

Koenig and his brother began what would become City Furniture in 1971. He has seen plenty of cycles in the South Florida economy, as well as how consumer tastes impact his business. Housing booms and housing busts. A growing population. And wicker. Koenig has a unique perspective at the intersection of two industries: real estate and retail. His outlook?  Very positive.

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The optimism comes despite Koenig's admitted frustration with finding qualified salespeople to hire. While City Furniture describes itself as the largest recruiter of Florida college graduates in its category, Koenig contends he still finds it difficult to fill his payroll.

Some of his difficulty could be explained by statistics. The unemployment for people with at least an undergraduate college degree is half what it is for those solely with a high school diploma.  

Retail is among the top six industries for Florida workers with more than one million employees in July. But only three percent of those folks work in the furniture retail business.

Still, the growth in overall retail employment in the past year is second only to the new jobs added in the real estate industry. Another illustration of how the two are connected, especially in South Florida.