I’m still beaming from such a strong winter show season for home furnishings. It kicked off in Atlanta  with high traffic and robust order writing and continued in Dallas  with a mood on the lighting floors that was nothing less than euphoric. Capping things off, Managing Editor Shanna Casey observed an overwhelmingly upbeat New York Intl. Gift Fair , while I experienced the same positive vibe permeating the Las Vegas Market . Nice to meet you, 2012! Please do make yourself at home …
In addition to this great energy and truly spectacular product introductions, one of the highlights for me has been our Accessories Resource Team  (ART)-sponsored Showroom IdeaShare, a roundtable of retailers in Dallas asking questions of one another and (more importantly) getting answers. And while what happens there, stays there, one line of questioning came up that I wanted to address outside the room.
Participants wanted to know more about the Showroom of the Year Awards  — how it works and how to enter. We present the Awards in partnership with the Dallas Market Center  at the June Dallas Market, with a Showroom of the Year winner in each of three annual-dollar-volume categories (Under $2 Million , Under $5 Million  and $5 Million and Over ), plus specialty awards for Most Significant Accomplishment , Outstanding Merchandising Display  and Exceptional Community Involvement . Retailers can enter  their own store, while other industry professionals can nominate  a store. (Individuals are allowed to make more than one nomination. And each entry/nomination represents a specific store location. Any independent lighting retailer is eligible.) The online form asks a variety of open-ended questions relating to various aspects of the store’s business, from marketing and merchandising to employee education and customer service. Retailers are asked also to submit store images, which are uploaded separately to http://www.scrantongillette.com/PR/index.cfm  anytime before the March 5 deadline.
A panel of three outside judges review the entries and nominations — plus store photos, websites and social media pages (if any) — to determine finalists and winners. There are 10 finalists for Showroom of the Year in each dollar-volume category, and all 30 finalists  are eligible for the three specialty awards. Finalists will be profiled in our May issue in a special section  that is also distributed at the June Dallas Market. Bragging rights ensue.
I hope that explains the program, and I hope each of you will enter or nominate  between now and March 5. It is an honor to recognize the great work that you do, and the teams behind it all. This is certainly starting off to be a year to remember. Being named Showroom of the Year could make it even more memorable for you and your staff.