Retailers find strength in numbers by working with resources in complementary categories.
When Hermitage Lighting President Jack Fleischer learned that his friend and neighbor Betty Lankford was closing the doors of Lankford Hardware & Supply Co., he knew he had to do something. A fixture of downtown Nashville, TN, Lankford had supplied area designers and homeowners alike with specialty hardware for more than 60 years. Fleischer himself had referred his own customers to the retailer.
“Lankford has always offered a great high-quality product and a solid client base, and it was a shame that they were shutting down,” Fleischer says. “So I went and talked to Betty to see if there was something we could do.”
Hermitage Lighting acquired the assets of Lankford. With its new Lankford Division of specialty hardware and plumbing fixtures, the venerable lighting retailer joins a growing string of lighting retailers that have partnered with other design businesses to form one-stop shops for the home.
“In partnering with Lankford, we’re creating a synergy of operations,” Fleischer says. “Our store was already strong in the lighting and fan product categories, and it made sense for us to take it to the next level by including Lankford’s door and cabinet hardware. We’re moving toward becoming a total solution for folks who are building or renovating a home.”
While Hermitage Lighting continues to integrate the new hardware category with its existing product mix, other lighting retailers enjoy autonomy while also leveraging the close proximity of closet showrooms, kitchen and bath stores, stone purveyors and other home design businesses. Retailers like Austin Bluffs Lighting (part of Coutura Design Inspirations in Colorado Springs, CO), The Lighting Galleria (part of Quantum Showrooms in Memphis, TN) and Lighting by Fox (part of The Design Center at Abt in Glenview, IL), subscribe to this sort of pack dynamic.
"When it comes to the home-design industry, it makes sense to be part of the larger picture,” says Skip Leigh, owner of Lighting by Fox.
Leigh sought out a spot in The Design Center at Abt after reading about the groundbreaking on the facility in his local newspaper.
“Big names like Kohler and Viking were already involved in the project, but they didn’t have anyone doing lighting,” Leigh says. “We came in, and our lighting went into the granite showroom [Visions by Exotic Marble], and customers can see their product in our showroom as well. We all use each other.”
Leigh regularly welcomes customers who begin their project in the Kohler showroom, too. So far, it’s working.
“People come to the design center looking for lighting that coordinates with their faucets, and we can give them that,” Leigh says. “Customers come from all over Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, so they can take care of all their home building or renovating needs conveniently in one spot. It’s been great for us.”
Especially in tough economic times, a location within a design center helps lend Lighting by Fox and others a sense of security.
“I’m just glad I’m part of [The Design Center at Abt] and not half a mile down the road,” Leigh says.
“That could spell disaster. As a group of showrooms, we’re in it together, and we’ve truly become a destination for customers.”