|The Lamp Connection has about 2,000 chandelier shades in its Stuart, FL showroom.|
In the face of today’s sluggish economy, weak housing market and disappointing lighting sales, savvy showrooms are turning to lamp shades to boost their bottom line.
“Quality lamp shades sell in any market condition,” says manufacturer’s representative Frank Battaglia of Safety Harbor, FL's Battaglia Sales. “When new lamps aren’t selling, people fix up their old lamps, and there are usually five to eight per household to be retrofitted and designed.”
The lamp shade category is working for many of Battaglia’s showroom clients.
Here’s how to make it work for you:
Carry a wide selection: Jinkie Bays, owner and President of West Melbourne, FL’s A Shade Above Lighting keeps between 3,000 to 5,000 lamp shades in her store. While most lighting showrooms skimp on their shade selection, Bays says the key to robust sales lies in having a full assortment at the ready.
"I have this 'condition,'" she says. "If I see it and I don't have it, I want it for my customers."
The story is similar Stuart, FL’s The Lamp Connection. Store owner Arlene Lagana opened her showroom with a modest stock of 700 shade styles. Five years later, The Lamp Connection has approximately 2,000 chandelier shades in stock, and business is booming.
Offer promotions: While Lagana benefits from referrals collected from stores that don’t carry lamps shades and through customer word of mouth, Barry Stanton, President of Brevard Lighting in Cocoa, FL, asserts that category promotion is also important to maintaining the performance of the lamp shade category. Twice a week, Brevard Lighting places 10-percent-off coupons in local newspapers and mentions lamp shades regularly on its storefront marquis.
“Our goal is to talk up the category,” says Stanton. “We want the customer to be proud of their lamps and view them as art.”
Wow your customers with great service: Like fine art, selling lamp shades requires expertise and a staunch commitment to service. At A Shade Above Lighting, for example, Bays has introduced comfortable places to sit and a sales team that’s ready to showcase the showroom’s full line of shades—one at a time if necessary.
“It’s like buying fine clothing,” Bays says. “You go to the boutique and have the dresses brought out one at a time.”
Bays also encourages customers to bring in a few pieces from their own home-decor collection, such as pillow shams, sofa-arm covers, and accessories. Above all, she insists that customers bring in their lamp bases, especially since all shade sales at A Shade Above Lighting are considered final. Despite the strict return policy, Bays says most customers aren’t deterred.
“It’s all in how you present it,” she says. “Most understand that [we] care about them and that [our job is to make sure] the shade and the base work as a unit.”
To further encourage his customers to come prepared, Stanton offers them a 10-percent-off coupon if they visit the showroom with their lamp base in tow.
Introduce add-ons: Paired with a shade sale, small add-on items can greatly increase profits on an average transaction. Lagana offers 900 styles of finials, which are available in stock and for custom order. Similarly, Bays displays 1,000 to 2,000 finials throughout three showcase cabinets and in two large curio cabinets. In addition to finials, Stanton pitches tabletop dimmer switches to each of his shade customers, amping up the average lamp shade sale from $65 to more than $100, once the $20 finial and $20 tabletop switch are figured in.
“Like a lot of lighting showrooms, we’re rebuilding our inventory, Stanton says. “We had let the category slide, but now we’re back at it with a vengeance.”