In With the New
April 14, 2009 - 12:00pm

Remember how exciting it was to write orders for the hottest fixtures and lamps at market? Keep that feeling alive when the shipment finally arrives at your showroom. Use it to create some buzz about your newest additions.

 “We send out e-mail blasts about once a month to promote what’s new,” says Ken Reiser, owner of Dallas’ Meletio Lighting & Electric. Reiser’s messages are simple—just a few pictures and hardly any words—but they remind customers that Meletio is constantly being refreshed.

 More tech-savvy souls could also post photos of the latest offerings on their Web sites. Even a simple phone call informing loyal customers of new products’ arrival can work wonders. These days, showrooms have towork harder to grab—and hold onto—customers’ attention. Most people haveresearched lighting on the Internet and scoured HGTV for ideas before even setting foot in a lighting showroom. And no matter their aesthetic preference, they want access to the best, most current selections. It’s up to you to make it clear where they’ll find them.

 Carol Gresset, owner of Carol’s Lighting in Humble, TX, says she often hangs fixtures during business hours. She started doing this so her staff could avoid working long hours, but Gresset says it has also helped draw attention to new shipments. “We’ve sold things as we are hanging them,” she says.

 Letting delivery trucks park in front of your showroom also advertises new product to passers-by. Modesto, CA-based Phillips Lighting & Home does this for its biennial Tiffany lamp sale.

 “It’s like having a billboard in front,” co-owner Karen Arnold says. “It makes a big splash and gets [customers] into the store,” where all the

walkways to the register are lined with Tiffanys. She finds, too, that unpacking smaller accessories like Lampe Berger’s aromatic diffusers at her cash wrap whets shoppers’ appetites for Phillips’ other new product.

 Once the bait is set with proper buzz, standout merchandising is key to really hooking customers. Progress Lighting merchandising expert Fred Munnell suggests studying the presentation at successful big-box stores like Z Gallerie and Crate & Barrel.

 “Hang new product by the door, or somewhere that’s a physical and

visual focal point,” he says. “It should be the first thing a customer


  In fact, simply relocating fixtures new and old can lend a fresh, inspiring look. Nashville, TN’s Hermitage Lighting Gallery, which

also sells furniture and accessories, swaps out 300 to 400 items every

month. “Customers get excited because the showroom is always changing,” owner Jack Fleischer says. “It’s not uncommon for lighting to roll back on the truck for delivery as soon as [it’s] hit the floor,” he says.

 So make a little noise the next time a shipment of new product arrives. Customers will notice. Says Munnell: “Keep it fresh and keep it looking good, and it will sell.”

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