Ruel Joyner, whose 24e Design Co. on Broughton Street started as a local furniture store and has evolved into an award-winning leader in the boutique home furnishings industry, has been named the 2016 Georgia Retailer of the Year by the Georgia Retail Association.
The store, which specializes in contemporary furniture, one-of-a-kind pieces, interior design and home décor, is no stranger to accolades.
As early as 2006, only five years after Joyner and his wife Delaine began reshaping the retail space at 24 East Broughton where his father’s rent-to-own furniture store had been since 1983, 24e Design Co. was named the Savannah Chamber’s Small Business of the Year.
A year later, 24e won a prestigious national ARTs award, recognizing standouts in the accent furnishings and accessories industry – an honor that an Accessories Resource Team spokeswoman described as “the Academy Awards” of the industry.
In 2008, the store was recognized by the Savannah Downtown Business Association with a SUSIE Award for Successful Urban Savannah Independent Entrepreneur.
Last year, 24e received its second national ARTs award as the top independent boutique furniture and interior design retailer with one store location.
The store also has been featured in such national and regional media as Southern Living, Food Network Magazine, Cooking with Paula Deen, Refresh, South, Savannah Magazine and HGTV.
The Georgia Retailer of the Year award was announced late last year.
“As the voice of retailing in Georgia, we’re proud to recognize industry leaders who have made a difference and serve as examples for what retailers do for this state,” said GRA President/CEO Randy Miller.
“Ruel is a local community advocate who spends a great deal of his time and energy giving back, through his involvement with many downtown associations and small business groups, as well as supporting and donating to local charity events.
“Ruel Joyner is everything that a retailer should be: committed to his business, his customers and his community.”
In addition to his daily involvement with 24e, Joyner served for six years as president of the Savannah Downtown Business Association, was named president of Leadership Southeast Georgia in 2016, was an organizer of Project Ceasefire, designed to help curb gun violence in Savannah. He served on the Mayor’s Business Roundtable, and was named a member of the 2015 Generation NEXT: Savannah’s Rising Stars of Business.
Joyner said he was “beyond honored and humbled” by the latest award as 24e continues to evolve, now specializing in the design and build of its own unique items – from tables and upholstery to lighting, mirrors and other home accents.
“We’re really working on two trajectories right now,” he said Tuesday.
“The first is building a base around those items that are trending, things like luxurious linens, and the second is creating more specialty items in our own shop by working with local artisans.”
Rather than grow more stores, Joyner says he would prefer to expand his footprint through shipping into other areas.
“I don’t think people realize that we ship more than 75 percent of what we sell,” he said. “Miami, Atlanta, Orlando and Chicago are particularly strong for us.”
If he did open another store, it would be in Atlanta, Joyner said. But, for now, he prefers the “store within a store” concept such as the Asheville, N.C. furnishings store that features items from 24e.
“Our customers are like family,” he said. “I have no ambition to get so big that it changes that dynamic.”