Finalist, Revenue Under $5 Million
Black Whale Lighting
By encouraging customers to “think out of the box” and showing them all available lighting options, the customer-friendly staff at Black Whale Lighting aims to make sure there are no regrets later due to lack of information.
Founded in 2007, the 5,000-square-foot store is designed to promote hands-on teaching, with visuals that inform and inspire. To that end, the showroom has been cleaned up and better organized to make it easier to shop. Sales in 2009 held steady in part because the store upped its efforts to sell designers with training sessions on new lighting technology and legislative issues impacting lighting. The showroom staff attends markets on a regular basis and often takes classes from ALA, too.
Unlike many lighting showrooms, this retailer does not display its lighting fixtures by family groups. Instead, the company opts to create displays that replicate the look of fine collections, as if the elements had been acquired over the years, one piece at a time. Showing many styles together challenges customers to think beyond a family.
High-end trade magazine ads, direct-mail campaigns and flyers account for much of the store’s advertising. The annual Whale of a Sale clearance event is always well received; people love the Black Whale name and find it amusing that the store plays around with it for a promotion.