New Elvis furniture line: King-sized 'Love Me Tender' beds, 'Burning Love' mirrors


Wednesday, April 17th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) _ The King has been gone for 25 years, but Elvis Presley's phenomenal marketing power has everyone all shook up at the world's largest furniture trade show.

Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co., based in Galax, Va., plans to introduce two new lines of Elvis Presley bedroom pieces at the International Home Furnishings Market, which gets under way on Thursday.

Company officials insist no green shag or red velvet will be used in the new ``Graceland'' and ``Elvis Presley's Hollywood'' bedroom lines.

Still, they did try to have some fun with furniture that ranges from refined to downright ostentatious.

Two of the signature pieces are the ``Love Me Tender'' bed and the ``Burning Love'' heart-shaped mirror, said Doug Bassett, the company's vice president of sales and marketing.

A sleek bed with padded headboard and matching armoire merely hints at Presley with silver doorknobs in the shape of an ``E'' and a ``P.'' Then there's the suite with a platinum-record mirror and more initial-shaped drawer knobs.

There's also a more traditional style armoire _ except for the frosted glass insert inscribed with Elvis' signature and musical notes.

The idea for an Elvis furniture line took seed when Bassett went to visit one of the company's plants in Tupelo, Miss., which is more famous for being Presley's birthplace. Bassett's flight was delayed in Memphis, Tenn., and he couldn't find a rental car or a hotel room.

``I realized it was Elvis Week and there were thousands of fans in town to go to Graceland,'' he said.

When he finally got home to Galax, he shared his story with some of his colleagues. That's when the light bulb went on.

The company put in a call to Elvis Presley Enterprises and began negotiating a licensing agreement.

``We learned very quickly that the Elvis fan and the Vaughan-Bassett customer are one and the same,'' said Bassett. ``Seventy percent of them are women under 50 years old. The same people who go to Graceland are the ones who buy furniture.''

Industry analyst Britt Beemer's curiosity was piqued by the idea of an Presley furniture line.

``I wouldn't think of Elvis Presley's name if I were thinking about the epitome of good taste,'' said Beemer. ``But it might do very well.''

Bob Slotnicki, a branding expert with Global Licensing & Trademark Ltd. in Hickory, said the idea of Elvis furniture has much to commend it, starting with Presley's lasting appeal a generation after his death.

Dealers may also want to stock the line as a traffic builder, he said: ``The Elvis Presley stuff will get you in the door, even if you want to stand and giggle at it.''