When showroom managers Jason Stevens and Jack Metcalf took over ownership of Burnsville, MN’s Fan Man Lighting in 2007, they weren’t sure what to do with an 8-by-10-foot glass-windowed office in the space.
“We considered several different options for what to do with the room, but the one that made the most sense to us was to turn it into a kids’ play area,” Stevens says. “We have a lot of families that visit our showroom, so it made sense to reserve a spot where kids can play while their parents shop. After all, nothing kills a sale faster than a screaming child.”
Packed with toys, a TV and a video game system, the playroom has been a huge success, and when Stevens and Metcalf move Fan Man Lighting to a new building in nearby Apple Valley, MN, a playroom will be part of that showroom layout, too. This store may have one of the more elaborate set-ups, but other showrooms are carving out special places for kiddos as well.
Creative Lighting Designs in Lebanon, NH, has a small play area tucked into the corner next to the showroom’s front sales counter. Featuring kid-friendly items like coloring books, crayons and toys, the space is just right for kids and parents alike.
“It keeps kids entertained, so their parents can concentrate on picking out lighting,” says owner Brian Horan. “It helps create a better, more enjoyable shopping experience for our customers, and it’s one more thing we can offer [that the big box stores don’t.]”
Horan points out that a dedicated area also helps prevent young ones from getting hurt or breaking merchandise. But to ensure his kids’ play area protects against liability rather than creating it, he has made certain it is visible from all corners of the store and near enough to the front that showroom staff can keep a watchful eye over the kids if their parents happen to be chatting with a salesperson at the back of the store.
The play area at Wright Lighting & Fireside in San Jose, CA, is located in a similar position near the sales counter.
“There’s always someone to keep an eye on the kids while their parents shop,” says owner Anthony Ghanati. “That was important in terms of avoiding any liability issues. We also make sure that we keep things simple and that the toys we stock the area with are safe. For example, there are no toy guns or products that shoot anything.”
To help keep kids safe and entertained, Fan Man Lighting even has on on-duty “grandpa” that hangs out most Saturdays in the play area.
“Our ‘grandpa’ is actually my father,” Stevens says. “He’s has 18 grandchildren of his own, so he’s definitely an expert. He’s also a U.S. Navy veteran, so a lot of times, the husbands who come into the store with their wives end up in the play area talking to him, too.”
For Fan Man Lighting, a resident grandpa and kids’ play area have becomes important selling points and a way to attract customers into the showroom.
“We’ve learned that it’s definitely something we should advertise,” Stevens says. “We’ve received a ton of great comments. It’s been a boon to our business.”
The same holds true at Wright Lighting. “When parents walk into our showroom, they’re excited to see that we’ve thought to outfit our store with an area for kids,” Ghanati says. “The kids’ eyes get all big, too. It’s a small space, but it’s been huge for us and our business.”