The winners of the fourth annual Showroom of the Year Awards were announced at a Dallas Intl. Lighting Market opening night cocktail reception on June 20. The awards were sponsored by Residential Lighting and Dallas Market Center.
One Showroom of the Year was named in each of three dollar-volume categories (annual revenue under $2 million, revenue under $5 million, and $5 million and over) from a field of 10 finalists in that category. All finalists were also eligible for three specialty awards, including Outstanding Merchandising Display, Exceptional Community Involvement, and new for this year, Social Media Star.
Judges for this year’s awards were Barbara Crowhurst, CEO of Retail Makeover; Rick Segel, business development specialist and certified speaking professional; and Mike Anderson, Vice President of Consumer Insights and Communication at The Center for Sales Strategy.
The winners were:
Revenue Under $2 Million: Living Lighting on King, Toronto, ON
Revenue Under $5 Million: Pace Lighting, Savannah, GA
Revenue $5 Million and Over: Norburn Lighting & Bath Centre, Burnaby, BC
Outstanding Merchandising Display: Urban Lights, Denver
Exceptional Community Involvement: Northwest Lighting and Accents, Mount Prospect, IL
Social Media Star: Yale Appliance & Lighting, Boston, MA
Living Lighting on King won a Showroom of the Year award last year for Most Significant Accomplishment. The 4,500-square-foot showroom, which opened in 2005, is located in the King West historical fashion district of Toronto. It’s a part of Canada’s largest lighting franchise, but remains independently owned and operated to address its urban market with a boutique atmosphere. Living Lighting stimulates all senses for a memorable shopping experience, playing chill/lounge music and offering complimentary premium coffees to shoppers. The team’s philosophy is to deliver the right experience to their team, customers and suppliers through passion, knowledge and attention to detail. Creative, unconventional merchandising display is the showroom’s strength and staff members call themselves Lighting Ninjas.
Judges’ comments included: “This store is doing all of the right things,” and “This retailer has pulled it together to show leadership in its category.”
Pace Lighting is now a three-time Showroom of the Year Award winner. This is its first time in the under $5 million dollar-volume category because its year-to-year sales were up more than 18 percent. The 18,500-square-foot location opened in 2008 and displays 2,500 fixtures from 180 lines, all in themes or meaningful room vignettes for the kitchen, bath, dining, living room and outdoor to give context. Each fixture can be isolated using a lighting control system. The average age of staff members is 33, and all have degrees in interior design or architecture. The owner has 30 years of experience in lighting.
Judges’ comments included: “I liked this store a lot. They cover the bases on the basics very well,” and “Remarkable community spirit.”
Norburn Lighting & Bath Centre was last year’s Showroom of the Year winner over $5 million as well. The 15,000-square-foot showroom, which opened in 1946, believes that quality service comes from quality employees. Norburn recruits for attitude and trains for skill. Norburn staff is known for technical knowledge, listening and communication, problem solving and customer service skills. Every sales staff member is an ALA Lighting Specialist and since the showroom serves a diverse marketplace, the staff cumulatively knows 10 languages, from Mandarin to Farsi.
Judges’ comments included: “Wow — this store puts it all together. So much to learn from,” and “Best all around.”
Urban Lights is a past Showroom of the Year winner for Most Significant Accomplishment, and repoened its 50,000-square-foot showroom in just eight weeks back in November 2010. The words “savvy” “sensible” and “sophisticated” are painted on their exterior, setting the tone for the displays inside. The showroom gives fixtures space to “breathe,” which it likens to letting a fine red wine decant. Lifestyle settings make it easy for customers to identify style preferences with clever names like “Jazzy Classics” or “Mountain Vogue.” Vignettes are accessorized with furniture, mirrors, artwork and other accents. They change up surfaces frequently to keep displays fresh, such as installing a full travertine marble wall for a recent “Tuscan Villa” display.
Judges’ comments included: “They share information and ideas versus just plugging the store’s latest sales event. In doing so, they make themselves a resource, elevating above merely price point competition.”
Northwest Lighting and Accents has a 66,000–square-foot location and a 16,000– square-foot, two-story showroom that opened in 2000. The store partnered with a local interior design school to host an evening training program for aspiring designers, teaching lighting considerations and new technology that impacts the interior design trade. It also supports two local Habitat for Humanity chapters, partners with local high school placement programs to provide work release and after school employment opportunities (including children with special needs), and donates products for Boy Scout projects. Northwest provides advertising for local organizations and community events on its electronic message board, provides use of its land for events held at the park next door and supports many school and church fundraising events with product donations. It also supports the Goombay Bash, which is an annual cancer research fundraiser put on by another Chicago-area lighting retailer (a past winner of this same award: Hortons Home Lighting).
Judges’ comments include: “True philanthropists give of themselves; their time, experience and expertise. This showroom has made an investment in the form of an event to train aspiring interior designers, thus providing guidance to the next generation of professionals who will continue to help this industry grow and prosper.”
Yale Appliance & Lighting, which has been open since 1923, has 30,000 in overall square footage with 15,000 square feet devoted to lighting. This showroom is actually a case study for business blogging that will be presented at this year’s Content Marketing World summit, having increased its visitor traffic by 167 percent. The store’s most effective marketing campaigns — a Private Sale and Tax Free Weekend — were fueled by blog and Facebook posts along with pay-per-click advertising and e-mail campaigns. Its Pinterest page includes 28 boards, including a board of more than 140 customer testimonials. The team has become known as a lighting authority by, in its own words, not “shouting at people through outbound media” but instead answering questions through blogs and videos.
Judges’ comments included: “They take full advantage of social media,” and “One of the best I’ve seen in social media.”
Read about all of the 2013 Showroom of the Year finalists in our May issue.