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Clayton Homes' Designer Series national brand manager Jim Greer expects expansion of the tiny home market (Photos: Courtesy Clayton Homes)

Many talk about the national trend toward living smaller in tiny homes. One builder is putting a lot of energy behind that concept.

Tennessee-based builder Clayton Homes’ tiny home subsidiary, Designer Series, will soon have its first distribution center in Cashiers, N.C. The store will be independently owned by a local real estate expert, aside from Clayton’s retail store distribution channel, and will function as an “experience center,” says Designer Series national brand manager Jim Greer.

The locally-owned distribution center is Clayton’s way of responding to the market by innovating its distribution process. Greer explains that the Designer Series brand is looking to partner with experienced individuals in a variety of local markets who would have interest in bringing the brand to their community. He added that Designer Series puts its collaborative support behind marketing efforts and the products.

In Cashiers, potential buyers will be able to walk through, or sleep over in the two tiny home offerings designed by Alabamian architect Jeffrey Dungan, Saltbox or Low Country, with 452 and 464 square feet, respectively. Greer says that offering these experiences make brick and mortar stores so valuable. “The notion is that 450 square feet is really small,” he says, explaining that a walk-through can prove to a buyer that the homes are larger, and more spacious, than they appear. Too, the Cashiers “experience center” offers boots-on-the-ground guidance to buyers throughout the building and purchasing process. “At the local level there will be contractors involved …," Greer adds. "It’s always good to have a person there to help.”

Clayton Homes tiny homes distribution center planned

Greer sees those in the move-down market, such as retirees and empty-nesters, as well as Millennial young professionals, as ideal candidates for what he calls “smaller living” in tiny homes. Older buyers may seek less maintenance and a simpler home, and Millennials are “wanting to live more by experiences,” without sacrificing high-end finishes, says Greer. He says, though, that Designer Series’ products are not limited to these two groups. Buyers seeking a vacation home at a more affordable price point while in a more expensive market is another viable sector, posits Greer. Also, more and more cities are starting to look into or update their zoning to accommodate accessory dwelling units, he says, providing a “great fit,” for Designer Series homes.

Looking forward, Greer anticipates Designer Series’ market expanding as the Clayton subsidiary looks to partner with other local housing experts, and as developers and investors come knocking as they consider creating tiny home communities. For now, this first step in distribution holds symbolic weight, Greer says, “The very first Designer Series tiny home that was built was shown in Cashiers. It’s a neat circle—back to where things started.”