Metro Lighting Reveals the Secrets to Merchandising a Large Showroom
March 30, 2012 - 2:47pm

You can’t miss Metro Lighting’s towering facade at dusk—it beckons with a light show, as LED illumination runs the course of the color spectrum.

Owner Bill Frisella purchased the facility last year as a central shipping location for its six metro St. Louis showrooms. But its prime location between an industrial park and a high-end retail promenade featuring two furniture stores clearly called for more: a brand new showroom.

“When you have the space, the lighting sells itself,” Frisella says.

Still, with 17,000 square feet of that space to fill, Metro’s merchandising specialist Patty Birkhead faced a daunting task. She began by carefully placing the showroom’s walls and its bath, outdoor and fan areas within three preliminary drawings. The rest, she says—including several manufacturer-specific galleries and what Frisella calls the Midwest’s largest contemporary lighting display—fell into place.

Rather than relying too heavily on full-blown vignettes, Birkhead focused on hanging fixtures in an easily digestible way. Though large, the showroom does not overwhelm. A logical footprint leads visitors from one category or brand to the next, and displays expertly draw attention to individual fixtures—nothing gets lost or overlooked.

Well-edited and strategically placed, the home furnishings Birkhead does integrate onto the floor stand alone as dramatic statements while still complementing and highlighting the fixtures with which they are displayed.

Metro’s business is evenly divided between designer, retail and custom home clients, and the new showroom reflects this: Mens’ ESPN and kids’ cartoon corners keep restless retail tagalongs occupied, several designers’ workspaces offer access to a super-efficient online catalog system and a contractor-friendly staff and warehouse ensure custom orders run smoothly.

To that end, General Manager Matt Gagnepain designed his own display tower for recessed,track and undercabinet lighting.

“It can get tricky if you try to show everything [a customer] needs,” he says. ”You have to pick and choose because not every manufacturer does everything well. We put all the best in one display and made it our own.”

In fact, every element in Metro has both a practical and aesthetic purpose; every inch of space “works.” Restroom fixtures are tagged, and each conference room and back office displays a different commercial lighting option. Even the ceiling above the unending rows of warehouse stock demonstrates the nuances of various lighting applications.

After all, Frisella says, “You can have the most beautiful showroom in the world, but what good is it if you don’t have the backup?”

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