The winners of the third annual Showroom of the Year Awards were announced on June 21 at a cocktail reception on the opening night of the Dallas Intl. Lighting Market. The awards were sponsored by Residential Lighting and Dallas Market Center.
One retailer was honored as Showroom of the Year in each of three dollar-volume categories, as well as three specialty categories. Each dollar-volume category had up to 10 finalists, with all finalists also eligible for specialty awards. Judges for this year’s awards were Michelle Lamb, Owner of Marketing Directions Inc. and Editorial Director of The Trend Curve; Jon Schallert, President of the Schallert Group and founder of Destination University; and Crystal Vilkaitis, Director of Social Media for SnapRetail.
The winners were:
• Revenue Under $2 Million – Pace Lighting Inc. in Savannah, GA
• Revenue Under $5 Million – Passion Lighting in Grapevine, TX
• Revenue $5 Million and Over – Norburn Lighting & Bath Centre in Burnaby, BC
• Most Significant Accomplishment – Living Lighting on King in Toronto, ON
• Outstanding Merchandising Display – Union Lighting & Furnishings in Toronto, ON
• Exceptional Community Involvement – Lucia Lighting & Design in Lynn, MA
Pace Lighting took home this award during the first Showroom of the Year Awards in 2010, and is the first two-time winner in the same category. This 18,500-square-foot showroom opened in 2008 with the tagline “Be inspired.” The showroom’s merchandisers use vignettes to show what fixtures would look like in a kitchen, bathroom or living room,as well as outdoors. All members of the sales team have an interior design or architecture background, and all employees become American Lighting Assn. Lighting Associates during their first six months on the job. In the past year, Pace Lighting launched an online e-catalog, which is also displayed in the showroom using flat-screen TVs. Judges praised the showroom for their exceptional social media use and strong communication with customers.
Passion Lighting aims to offer the widest selection in a constantly evolving display. Wall colors and materials change frequently, and the showroom turns more than half of its decorative product mix each year. Passion Lighting also features the only landscape lighting and in-house installation company in the North Texas region, which makes up more than 10 percent of the showroom’s annual revenue. The showroom also does a great job of motivating its employees with its “Purple Cow” awards, which are given out for positive customer experiences and can earn employees prizes. Judges praised the showroom for its “internet marketing savvy”and “wonderful looking store.”
Norburn Lighting & Bath Centre is a 15,000-square-foot showroom that’s been in business since 1946. The showroom’s core business philosophy is that quality service comes from quality employees. The staff is known as much for their technical knowledge as their customer service. During the past year, Norburn Lighting gave their employees time off to complete a university-level marketing program. The showroom also introduced the Recessed Lighting Theatre, an interactive sales and education resource that displays different lighting types and techniques. Judges praised Norburn Lighting & Bath for their “investment in new luminaire theatre space,” as well as for their customer service strategy.
Judges selected Living Lighting on King as the Most Significant Accomplishment award winner because of the engaged, passionate staff. The past year has presented several personal struggles for staff members,including divorce and ailing parents, but the staff shared their difficulties and came together to support one another. The staff managed to overcome these issues, while also increaing its sales and profit margin over the past year. Part of this was due to exceptional customer service, such as when the showroom’s president gave an 80-year-old customer a ride home on a snowy day, helped her install her lamps and stayed for a cup of tea. Judges called Living Lighing on King “a wonderful example of a what a lighting showroom should be doing to reach today’s customers.”
Union Lighting and Furnishings, the 2011 Over $5 Million Winner, took home this year's award for Outstanding Merchandising Display. The over 100,000-square-foot showroom is Canada’s largest, and recently devoted 7,000 square feet to a new customer service area and an enhanced pick-up area. Products are grouped by style for easier navigation, with store maps also available. The showroom’s most noteworthy displays are in the outdoor section, with two complete house facades, a deck with a pergola, stone walls and 12-foot trees. Judges said this investment “not only allows customers to envision how light will enhance their outdoor spaces, but also acknowledges that -- throughout the country -- consumers are embracing outdoor living more with each passing year.”
Lucia Lighting & Design’s commitment to communities both near and far helped it win this year’s award for Exceptional Community Involvement. The showroom established the Cynthia Balesteri Ray Memorial Scholarship in honor of a 30-year-old Lighting Specialist who was killed by a drunk driver in 2010. The fund was started at her alma mater, Endicott College, and goes to an interior design major with outstanding academic achievement. Lucia Lighting & Design has also held raffles to raise money for the relief efforts in Haiti, as well as a local town hit by tornadoes. Judges said, “While most showrooms make contributions of merchandise or money, Lucia Lighting & Design took a far more personal approach. The scholarship will keep [Cynthia’s] memory alive for years to come, while also helping a number of students become interior designers.”
Read about all of the 2012 Showroom of the Year finalists in our May issue.