Laura Van Zeyl

The 2013 Showroom of the Year Award winners represent a variety of successful approaches to retailing, but they share an ability to tell their story, making the passion for what they do relatable — and even contagious — for customers.

For Living Lighting on King, a full sensory experience and unique merchandising provide the Toronto store’s inimitable vibe. As owner Jodie Orange describes: “My staff is never surprised when I show up with a car full of old bicycle parts or branches that I’ve dragged from my cottage or a scrap yard. In fact, they get excited about the arts and crafts that is sure to follow.”

Pace Lighting of Savannah, GA, made some changes that helped boost business in the past year. One of those was refusing to display fixtures from manufacturers that do not adhere to a 2.0 IMAP or better. From its entry: “A perhaps unintended consequence of this policy has been a tremendous freshening of our display product, which has not gone unnoticed by our regular customers.”

Norburn Lighting emphasized serving its diverse Vancouver community with a staff that speaks 10 languages, as articulated in its entry: “Imagine trying to explain a technical renovation question, delivery instructions or specific lighting design requests to a salesperson not in your native language.”

Outstanding Merchandising Display winner Urban Lights in Denver used a clever analogy in its entry statement to illustrate its approach to vignettes: “We’d compare a fine red wine that needs to breathe in enough good air to maximize its taste to our commitment to display lighting fixtures in intimate settings.”

Some of the most entertaining stories have to do with above-and-beyond customer service, like an anecdote from Northwest Lighting and Accents where a third-party installer “elected not to follow” instructions to ensure a client’s fluorescent pendant could be dimmed. “We sent one of our lighting designers out. By rerouting the power through different junction boxes and several recessed lights, six hours later we were able to squeeze another half dozen wires to the necessary locations and accommodate the remote ballast.”

The first Social Media Star winner, Boston’s Yale Appliance + Lighting, didn’t pull any punches when it defined its strategy for engagement: “We have stopped advertising and shouting at people through outbound media and started answering their questions through blogs and videos.”

Of course, being clear about who you are and what you represent is far more powerful than shouting anyway. Let your enthusiasm, dedication and expertise come across in everything you do, but especially in how you choose to tell your own story.

About this author

Laura Van Zeyl

Laura Van Zeyl is the Publisher/Editorial Director of Residential Lighting and Home Fashion Forecast magazines, and has been covering the lighting and home furnishings industries since 1993. In 2014, she was named one of "100 Women of Inspiration" by Today's Chicago Woman magazine.

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