Lighting Retailers Make a Gutsy Move
March 30, 2012 - 4:19pm

Narrowing in on a great story can be a little like finding a needle in a haystack, and while I enjoy the hunt as much as any nose-for-news journalist, I count myself as very lucky indeed when a top-drawer idea falls in my lap, as it did for this month’s Point of Sale article.

I first met Austin Bluffs Lighting’s Kris and Kevin Herdt in Denver at a Lighting One convention that I was invited to cover a couple of years back. Since then, I’ve run into them a few times here and there at industry events. At September’s American Lighting Association Conference, I happened to plop down next to Kris for the lighting showrooms panel discussion, and she shared some exciting news with me about the opening of her new lighting showroom at the soon-to-debut Coutura “design mall” in Colorado Springs, CO.

What I would learn a phone call and a floor map later is that her latest project is more home-design heaven than lighting hamlet. The concept is this: Local businesses, including Austin Bluffs, band together under a common roof to offer home-improvement and building customers a convenient and enticing one-stop shop.

Launching a new business was a gutsy move considering the shaky economy, but the Herdts and their Coutura partners aren’t that worried. They feel that they have something exciting and unusual to offer their community at a time when most vendors are scaling back, and after all, there’s strength in numbers.

“We’re thrilled to be aligned with merchants with solid business strategies and integrity in the community,” Kris says. “We are all a sounding board for the changes in business, as well as ways to capture the fluctuations in the market.”

And the networking doesn’t stop with the big-name vendors. Coutura partners have invited local artists to display and sell their work throughout the space. They’ve also reached out to nonprofit groups and other local industries to offer use of their conference rooms and a rooftop party deck. No wonder Kris had trouble explaining. It’s a new idea in a new era, and it’s about coming together to make it work. That’s an approach we can all get behind.

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