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Business Of Home | July 2019


Is Kyle Bunting the canary in the coal mine for multiline showrooms?

By Fred Nicolaus

Kyle Bunting has a roving intellect and infectious enthusiasm. During a recent interview about his Austin, Texas–based decorative hide rug company, the conversation ranged from the intricacies of sourcing leather to the real estate market in San Francisco. So it wasn’t entirely surprising that, when an album by the British rock band Radiohead came up, Bunting shared an (enthusiastic) opinion that seemed to reflect his own strategic approach.

A little background: In 2007 the band, at the apex of its popularity, cut ties with its record label and released its seventh album, In Rainbows, by posting it online and asking fans to pay whatever they thought it was worth—even $0. It was a radical and risky move at a time when people still spent money on music. It also separated the casual fans from those who were inspired enough to pay for a product they connected with.

“I loved that!” Bunting said. “I paid full price for it.”

Bunting is in the midst of a risky business maneuver of his own. He’s not giving his product away, but this spring, after nearly 20 years of representation through a variety of showrooms—large corporate multilines, independents, and a hybrid partnership with Edelman Leather—Bunting cut the cord completely. He pulled out of all of his agreements and waited, with some anticipation, for orders to start trickling in.

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