How to Survive A Showroom Move or Improvements
December 5, 2012 - 3:56pm
Lighting retailers reveal their strategies for staying afloat while moving or making major showroom improvements.

Taking on a move, expansion or renovation can be tricky, as Phillips Lighting & Home in Modesto, CA, discovered. When the retailer moved from a nearly 30,000-square-foot showroom to a brighter, more contemporary 9,000-square-foot space earlier this year, owner Carrie Arnold and her team worked hard to keep their eyes on the prize.

“Even though we moved our showroom to a new space across the parking lot, the move was a leap of faith,” Arnold says. “But we knew the smaller space was more in line with our needs, and so far our decision has been a successful one.”

Arnold and her team decided on a timetable they knew they could stick to: From the initial planning meetings to its re-opening, the process took about six months. Still, there were times when Arnold wondered if they’d ever make it.

“Sometimes things don’t always go as planned, and you just have to roll with it,” Arnold says. “We just tried to do our best to keep our act together. It’s hard, but you have to stay calm and have a sense of humor.”

Phillips inhabited its previous showroom for 10 years, so Arnold knew that she and her staff would have to really work at getting the word out about their new space. Fortunately, the retailer had been a fixture in the community for 65 years and it wasn’t long before members of the Modesto press were knocking on Arnold’s door.  

“We got a lot of mileage thanks to an unsolicited article by our local newspaper,” Arnold says. “Between that story, updates on our Facebook page and other marketing efforts [including a big moving sale], we were able to get through to a lot of people.”

Even so, Arnold thinks they could have done more. “That’s one of the things I’d say we’ve learned through this experience — the importance of communication to your customers and the community.”

Angerstein’s Building Supply & Design Center faced a slightly different set of challenges when it renovated its Wilmington, DE, showroom earlier this year. But like Phillips, Angerstein’s got a lot of things just right. The store’s first “great idea” was to hire a designer.

“It was very important to us to work with someone from outside our store when we decided we were going to renovate,” says Kristen Ursomarso, co-owner and Marketing Director.  “It had been a while since we’d changed anything, and we really wanted some fresh ideas. Bringing in a designer really fueled the creative process, and in the end, I think it helped us all work better together as a team.”

Angerstein’s was able to stay open during the renovation, scheduling the most disruptive work, like laying carpet, for after hours or during the one day of the week when the store is closed.

“We also planned way ahead and made sure our renovation fell into our slow months — January, February and March — and that it didn’t go over the allotted time,” Ursomarso says.

The hard work paid off. The redesigned showroom features new flooring, fresh paint and some new architectural elements like an in-wall shelving unit to display undercabinet lighting. And while the showroom’s new look helps drum up excitement among its customers, it has helped re-charge showroom staff, as well.

“Our customers really took notice of our renovation, but it has also been an uplifting experience for all of us at Angerstein’s,” Ursomarso says. “If you do it right, change doesn’t have to be scary. It can actually be really refreshing.”

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