Showroom of the Year Winner: Pace Lighting, Savannah, GA
 

Whether you have a lot to spend or just a little, Pace Lighting works hard to get your business. The 18,500-square-foot showroom carries more than 2,500 light fixtures from nearly 200 vendors, so there is a lot to choose from.

Whether you have a lot to spend or just a little, Pace Lighting works hard to get your business. The 18,500-square-foot showroom carries more than 2,500 light fixtures from nearly 200 vendors, so there is a lot to choose from. The showroom itself, expanded and remodeled in 2009, is welcoming and airy, with dark wood floors, pristine white walls and lots of natural light. Nicely appointed vignettes dominate the sales floor. Each fixture on display is wired separately and connected to controls, providing the ultimate lighting sales tool. In addition to having Certified Lighting Consultants (CLC®s) on staff, Pace employs its own electricians who are on hand to provide expert, professional information and also handle in-home installations.

Residential Lighting: What’s new at your showroom?

Lisa Dixon, Showroom Manager: We added new lines. After we got this award, we got a lot of calls from companies that did not call on us before. It was kind of fun, actually, and very flattering. As a result, we have expanded electrical products that require expert installation, which is a specialty of ours. Our customers have come to expect us to know how to correctly install these specialty items, so these new products really complement our larger business. They filled in some holes, you might say.

RL: What do you think your showroom has done right during the downturn?

LD: That is tough to say, really. There have been so many little things. I have to give credit to our owner [Frank Bartlett, pictured with Dixon]. He saw it coming and put money into reserves. That helped us a lot. We also reduced warehouse inventory. When times were good, we might have had three vendors selling us undercabinet lighting. Now we have our top vendor for our in-stock line. The other two are now special-order. I’d say we have been more thoughtful and selective about the products and suppliers we carry.

RL: What do you think your showroom did not do very well during the downturn?

LD: It probably was not the number-one best choice to make our store so unique. We thought that if business were to soften, we would need something very different than our competitors, but we did not anticipate the high-end portion of the market “going away.” We had to temper our position, but the perception it created was tough to overcome. We culled the very most expensive goods and added a discount area. People love it — they feel they are getting a great deal. We also stationed a greeter at the store, someone who helps people find what they are looking for, and what they can afford.

RL: What’s on tap for next year?

LD: Three or four years ago, we took off like everyone else. Decisions do not matter as much when the money was flowing like it was. It’s different now. So we want to grow again, but we want to grow smart. We are also hiring differently, looking for people with interior design degrees, or working on their degree. We find that they can speak intelligently about space planning, which adds another dimension to our service offering.

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