Presenting the finalists for the 3rd annual Showroom of the Year Awards, sponsored by Residential Lighting and the Dallas Market Center. Join us at the Dallas Intl. Lighting Market on June 21 as we announce the winners.
CHRISTIE’S LIGHTING GALLERY
While other showrooms in the area were cutting back or closing their doors for good, this enterprising showroom opened in 2008 and broke the million-dollar sales mark this past year. Much of that accomplishment can be attributed to owners Kristie and Robert Spino’s genuine passion for lighting, and the showroom’s unwavering focus on customer satisfaction.
“Our staff is not worried about selling the most expensive item, they just want to sell the right item per the customer’s needs,” the company’s entry statement explained.
At 5,000 square feet, Christie’s is the largest lighting showroom with the most substantial product selection in the area. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains just south of Asheville, NC, the mid- to high-end showroom draws from a wide trade area. The experienced staff includes CLCs, which adds to the showroom’s reputation for sound lighting knowledge. Finding the right lighting solutions is not just a goal, but also a mandate at Christie’s Lighting Gallery.
Family owned and operated, the atmosphere at Christie’s is warm and friendly. “They make you feel like you matter and are always welcome,” a nomination form explained.
ELUME DISTINCTIVE LIGHTING
PARK CITY, UT
When it opened last November in the snazzy Quarry Village Shopping Center in Park City, Elume Distinctive Lighting wasn’t the largest lighting showroom in the area, nor did it have the biggest selection. The boutique lighting showroom “doesn’t try to display everything, just enough to inspire,” according to the company’s entry statement.
A rebranded, remerchandised and thoroughly updated version of a traditional lighting showroom in town, Elume is owned by Joe and Jennifer Brassey, who are supported by an all-female team of lighting and design professionals. In line with the upscale mountain setting, the 1,783-square-foot showroom creates a cool, contemporary impression with a chic rustic flavor that is hard to miss. Vanity bars, for instance, are on freestanding displays built from 10-foot-tall squared timbers and black panels, a pleasing mix of modern and mountain.
Overall, Elume’s approach to merchandising is “keep it fresh.” When an item sells, it’s replaced by something new. That way, even repeat customers experience something different when they visit. A carefully edited selection of fixtures hangs directly off a 24-foot-high ceiling; there isn’t a cloud in sight. Along with the “wow” designs, there are key basics. A new soffit area in the showroom showcases a wide variety of recessed cans, a mix of functional items and decorative options.
The thriving lighting showroom known as Fogg Lighting began in 1994 as a lamp shade parts supplier calling on portable lamp manufacturers. Today, the showroom team consists of people with both technical and design experience. Whether they are helping a client choose a lamp shade, fixtures for an entire house or lighting for a large commercial project, the Fogg Lighting staff works hard and with passion to find the perfect products to complement and illuminate the spaces.
Not interested in competing with big-box stores, Fogg Lighting carries high-quality products backed by high-quality service. “Hands down, the most important aspect of our business is our focus on ‘making a customer,’ and not just a sale,” according to the company’s entry statement. Customers span the spectrum from architects and design professionals to homeowners. Thanks to e-mail, vendors’ willingness to drop ship product and strong working relationships, Fogg Lighting is now doing business with architects and designers from across the United States.
Even as the business grows (up 20 percent last year), the company subscribes to the notion that “small is beautiful.” Customers are killed with kindness via small, sincere gestures that go a long way — like personal thank-you notes from the staff. Clients working on large projects are sent freshly baked cookies.
After 25 years as a building contractor, Illuminations owner Gustavo Garcia knows how to make builders happy. In every way it can, the showroom tries to exceed customers’ expectations. The overriding goal is to prevent or minimize problems that would further complicate the already complicated job of building a new home.
Located at the southernmost tip of Texas, just 12 miles from the Mexican border, Illuminations does business in one of the country’s poorest regions. San Antonio, the closest big city, is 225 miles away. The influx of Mexican nationals keeps business flowing, but requires the staff to cater to two cultures.
Taking care of builders has proven to the backbone of the company. A significant percentage of sales is from repeat builder business. Pros return because they are confident there won’t be hassles or snags along the way. The staff is ready to help them stay abreast of the latest innovations in lighting — knowledge that helps them help their own clients choose a lighting package.
LIGHT UP YOUR LIFE
Light Up Your Life’s best business policy is honesty. The goal is to satisfy each customer's unique expectations, to listen carefully and really understand his or her wishes. Fair pricing, never above manufacturer’s suggested retail, is another honest gesture that keeps customers coming back for more. Advertising in reputable print media, and local spots on news or educational stations convey what the business stands for, leaving misleading “80 percent off retail” come-ons to others.
According to the showroom’s entry statement, “Excellent customer service (is based on) honesty, which means selling clients what they really need.” Diligent research helps the 6,000-square-foot showroom keep up with the quickly changing world of lighting technology and lighting systems. “The staff is eager to constantly learn about the products we sell,” the statement says.
Introducing clients and end-users to new lighting ideas “delights” the staff. Helping traditionalists see the discreet but powerful addition of contemporary lighting has broadened the showroom’s market. The company website is another teaching tool that now is part of a social media strategy that includes Facebook and Twitter. Clean and crisp, like the store environment itself, the website is designed to bring clients into the showroom. Links to the company’s more than 200 vendors are a compelling lure to come in for a professional, in-depth consultation.
LIGHT WORKS OF STEAMBOAT
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO
In a community like Steamboat Springs, preserving the environment and conserving energy are major priorities. Light Works of Steamboat reflects its community’s values and has partnered with the local green movement.
Besides doing all it can to keep clients up-to-date with the latest energy-efficient lighting technologies, the 2,000-square-foot showroom launched a fluorescent bulb recycling program that the company hopes will pay for itself. Through a local grant, Light Works paid $1 for a machine known as the Bulb Eater that crushes fluorescent bulbs and tubes in rapid fashion. That initiative earned the company the Steamboat Chamber Resort Assn.’s Navigator Award for Sustainable Business of the Year. The award, presented last fall, provided positive publicity on the front page of the local newspaper.
As serious as Light Works is about saving the planet, company owners Richard and Nancy Schwanke feel just as strongly about having fun with lighting, whether you are selling it or living with it. The showroom is deliberately eclectic and reflects the casual, relaxed atmosphere found in “Ski Town USA.” The showroom makes its own custom displays that conform to its tight quarters. In keeping with the mountain theme, the showroom displays portable lighting on genuine log sections cut to miscellaneous lengths. Likewise, the owners want employees to have fun while they work at Light Works. Scheduling is flexible and taking a personal “powder day” now and then isn’t discouraged, either.
LIGHTING DESIGN CENTER/WARSHAUER ELECTRIC
TINTON FALLS, NJ
The expertise to provide lighting design from start to finish sets Warshauer Electric’s Lighting Design Center apart from its competition. An exclusive selection of unique lighting is complemented by a growing array of products that control lighting for functionality and energy efficiency.
At its current location since 1988, the 1,700-square-foot showroom inside Warshauer Electric takes pride in offering added value at every step of the design process. The company’s entry statement put it this way: “We provide more than supplies and systems, we provide solutions.”
Providing a design environment where customers can visit and meet with a professional to discuss their project is the foundation of the showroom’s success. Customers can come to the showroom to visually experience lighting and lamping, and to see firsthand different techniques that could create the lighting of their dreams. They can see the latest products and learn about lighting controls and how to incorporate that technology into their own project. Lighting Design Center can take it one step further with whole-home automation, too.
LIVING LIGHTING ON KING
As a franchisee, Living Lighting on King takes advantage of being part of Canada’s largest lighting chain while also putting its own stamp on an established business model.
At first blush, Living Lighting on King is a beautiful boutique-style lighting store featuring a wide range of today’s best lighting fixtures. Upon closer examination, the showroom is an amalgamation of small, special details. There’s music, a contemporary blend of tribal beats and ambient sounds, playing loudly. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee and tea adds to the ambience. Fixtures are hung at a height you would find at home, making them easier to see and touch. Taken as a whole, the showroom offers a unique shopping experience that stimulates all the senses. Emerging trends in colors, merchandising and marketing encourage the company to push the customer experience forward.
This past year has had its ups and downs. Personal challenges for staff members made the team stronger and closer. A new website was launched. The showroom’s second annual lighting design competition involved 12 artists, who were asked to take a deconstructed light fixture and rework it using any art technique to create a new piece of original lighting art. An evening opening kicked off a month-long exhibition in the showroom that culminated with awards for the top three artists.
PACE LIGHTING INC.
At the forefront of a new era in lighting showroom design, Pace Lighting management likes to say that its 18,500-square-foot showroom embodies the future look and feel of all lighting showrooms. What’s different? All light fixtures are shown as they would look in a home or office. Vignettes for various rooms of a house are wired to a lighting control system so that any individual fixture can quickly and easily be isolated from surrounding product. A new area dedicated to Fanimation ceiling fans features a game table and other homey touches.
The main showroom displays roughly 2,500 fixtures, from very simple pieces to extravagant showstoppers. Designed to be an inspiration for design, the showroom building features a geothermal heating and cooling system, and private and public wireless networks.
Pace Lighting is out to give customers a “vertical” shopping experience. The staff is able to design, select product, install and repair fixtures of all types. All salespeople in the showroom have design backgrounds, which gives Pace a real edge when working with customers. Kindness counts: “It is our mission to make our customers happy and comfortable every moment they are in our showroom,” the company’s entry statement noted.
SAN DIEGO, CA
In its design and merchandising, Urban Lighting’s 1,200-square-foot showroom has European flair and a gallery ambience that is white, bright and airy. Contemporary lighting designs from Moooi, Ingo Mauer and Fortuny are balanced with mainstream, transitional lighting lines. The goal is to offer a good variety of high/mid-range fixtures. The one-of-a-kind showroom and its merchandise mix appeal to the local architecture and design community and area homeowners and tourists visiting San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter, Urban Lighting’s home.
Once upon a time, Urban Lighting had a different name and owner, but the people who work there today have remained consistent; even the new owner is a veteran. The philosophy is to support the customer in as many ways as possible, from providing options within a price range to stocking famous brand names, not facsimiles. Thanks to the Internet, customers often walk into the showroom knowing what they want. Incredibly detail-oriented with years of experience, the Urban Lighting staff is ready to help them get it. Each staffer has an interior design background and is very knowledgeable about lighting and design. Their contribution has helped the showroom grow its sales and profits, even in tough economic times.