by Camdyn Bruce
When Casual Living opened in Columbia in 1976, the goal was to offer customers high-quality outdoor furniture with expertise and outdoor design services which no one else was offering in the Midlands. After being voted the best outdoor furniture store in Columbia for the sixth consecutive year in 2021, it’d be hard to argue that the business hasn’t lived up to its lofty aims.
Dottie Reynolds and John Chamberlain have jointly operated the business since their purchase in 1986. Reynolds said the one thing that sets Casual Living apart from its competition is how involved they are in purchasing the furniture.
“We’re very involved in the business; we do all the buying. We don’t have somebody buy it from some central location,” said Reynolds. “We hand select everything, and we select it based upon quality and what we think our customers would like for this area.”
Virtually anything that goes in an outdoor living area can be found at Casual Living. They offer a wide variety of products ranging from outdoor chairs, sofas, throw pillows, rugs, umbrellas for shade, and even lighting. In addition to this, Casual Livings also offers four different materials to choose from with furniture made of aluminum, iron, recycled plastic, manufactured outdoor wicker, and wood.
Reynolds noted, however, that Casual Living only sells one very specific type of wood product. “The only wood that we will sell is Indonesian teak. It’s true teak. It’s what they build ships out of, so it is going to last outside,” said Reynolds.
The longevity that Casual Living has sustained hasn’t come without its fair share of challenges. One of the biggest hurdles the business currently faces is supply chain delays. Like all good businesses, though, Casual Living has adjusted, and Reynolds has been ordering products well in advance to account for slower shipping.
“Usually, things that take four to six weeks to make are taking six months or more now, so we’re continually ordering product in between our big orders just so we have something coming down the pipeline,” said Reynolds.
In many ways, the pandemic has presented some upsides for Casual Living as outdoor spaces and living areas have become more desirable. Reynolds reports that the demand for outdoor furniture has never been higher.
“Everybody that buys a house now wants a patio or a porch or a deck or some area outside,” said Reynolds. Going forward, she just wants to continue serving customers in the Midlands the best that she can.
“We don’t have any goals to expand but just to keep being the best at what we do and keep offering Columbia the best product that we can find for a good value.” For more information, 803-754-5022 g