Meet Our 10th Annual SOTY Finalists: $5M and Up

The 10th Annual Showroom of the Year Finalists in the Over $5 Million category! 

To see finalists in our other categories, click here:

Under $2 Million

$2 Million to $5 Million

Nicole Davis
05/16/2019
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Showroom of the Year finalists 2019

Idlewood Electric, Highland Park, IL

Idlewood Electric

 

Celebrating its 60th year in business in 2018 — plus receiving Women-Owned Business Enterprise accreditation — gives Idlewood Electric plenty to celebrate. This family business has been catering to the lighting needs of the Chicagoland area with passion and dedication for three generations.

When customers walk into Idlewood Electric, its 10,000-square-foot showroom offers a wide range of lighting options, not only from different manufacturers, but also in diverse styles and finishes. This range is constantly being rotated to ensure something always appeals to the showroom’s broad base of customers. 

The company was founded on the core principle that customer service is the most important component, and more than 60 years later, this standard is as relevant as ever. With intense competition from the internet, Idlewood’s sales associates are dedicated to helping their customers throughout their entire lighting process. 

“Whether it’s finding a rare lightbulb, to ensuring a $50,000 delivery arrives precisely when the customer requests, Idlewood’s job is never complete until our customers are happy with the end result,” says Rachel Lansing Sotoloff, head of Idlewood’s Marketing and PR team. “We will always take the extra step to make sure we are satisfying our customers 100 percent.” 

Idlewood’s success relies partly on the power of word-of-mouth. One of the staff’s favorite customer experiences is when multi-generational customers come into the showroom. The original customer (the parents) are long-time Idlewood Electric customers, and today, their kids are grown up with their own children and they’re moving back to the suburbs from the city. Seeing all three generations really makes Idlewood Electric proud to know that it has been a constant throughout its customers’ lives. 

Q: Look back 10 years at your showroom and reflect on where you were then versus now.

A: “Over the past 10 years, the look of Idlewood has evolved, but our core principles have remained the same,” says CEO and President Barbara Lansing. “Our goal is to provide superior customer service above all else and ensure that our customers receive the best possible experience while shopping at Idlewood. From the downturn of the economy to the booming e-commerce marketplace, the way lighting showrooms operate has changed dramatically. Idlewood has made it our priority to remain at the forefront of these changes to be able to adapt swiftly and cater to our clients from Millennials to their parents and grandparents.”

 

Lightology, Chicago, IL

Lightology, Chicago, IL

 

Smack dab in the middle of the action in downtown Chicago, Lightology provides a unique lighting experience for visitors near and far. With a diverse and expanding LightArt Collection, Lightology functions as an art gallery and museum of contemporary lighting, showcasing an ever-evolving, curated collection of more than 700 lighting brands. From European favorites to boutique up-and-comers, plus specification-grade architectural products, the showroom offers unique designs that have yet to be discovered in the United States.

The “ology” in Lightology speaks to its role as an institution for lighting education. Lightology regularly hosts CEUs, tours, workshops and events for the Chicago design community, and features countless in-store displays highlighting the history and science of lighting design, from Edison and Tesla to an actual piece of the disco floor from the famed movie “Saturday Night Fever.” 

Digitally, Lightology shines. It offers a comprehensive e-commerce experience through its website, which allows customers worldwide to purchase from them, as well as top-notch content.

“The real key to a successful digital strategy is content,” says Steven Schranz, Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “You can put an ad on every website, partner with every influencer, post on every social channel, but if you don’t have an interesting product or quality content, no one will engage.” 

And even with outstanding content, Lightology’s staff is its most valuable asset. Seventeen ALA-certified lighting experts with diverse backgrounds have designed everything from large-scale commercial spaces to newly built homes, guiding customers through their projects from start to finish.

Q: Look back 10 years at your showroom and reflect on where you were then versus now.

A: “What began as a brick-and-mortar retail model has grown tremendously over the years into an omni-channel business,” says Schranz. “Since opening Lightology in 2001, we’ve integrated e-commerce with a responsive website and employed a comprehensive marketing strategy that has continuously grown our loyal customer base, and selection of brands available from around the world.” 

 

Lights Fantastic Pro, Lewisville, TX

Lights Fantastic Pro, Lewisville, TX

 

Lights Fantastic Pro is a one-of-a-kind showroom on the forefront of the LED revolution. While many showrooms portray LED as a higher-priced version of whatever it is the consumer is buying, Lights Fantastic Pro focuses less on the specific product and more on the environment that the lighting creates. 

The state-of-the-art showroom features 19,000 square feet of product gallery space, commercial lighting options and a lighting concourse that inspires. By demonstrating unique environments, fixtures, ambiances and spaces, Lights Fantastic Pro is showing how LED will forever change the way we use lighting. Staff leverages its decades of experience with its professional relationships to source any fixture or lighting style imaginable by its clients to create the perfect environment.

The Lights Fantastic Pro team is passionate about getting involved at the early stages of a project so they can work with the architect, designers and contractors and simplify the construction process.  

An exciting new development? Lights Fantastic Pro will be replicating the experience of walking into its showroom in Lewisville in its two other locations in Dallas and Austin. “LED is such a transformative technology that you can’t just talk about it,” says Marketing and Merchandising Director Cody Chapman. “We want everyone to experience how it’s changing how people work, live and play in a space.”

Q: Opening a new showroom in today’s landscape would be considered a bold move. What gave you the confidence to move forward with a new brick-and-mortar concept?  

A: “There are studies on this, and what people are finding is stores are closing because they aren’t offering a better experience than shopping online,” says Chapman. “People are looking for an experience, not a purchase, and that’s what our showroom offers. The other thing is that because there are so many choices, it can be overwhelming. Wayfair offers over 10 million items from over 10,000 vendors. How does a professional, much less a consumer wade through the information overload? You go to an expert, and that’s why we focus on education and training in our showroom.” 

 

Springhaus, Timnath, CO

Springhaus

 

Opened just last year, the 30,000-square-foot Springhaus showroom is a destination for all things design. Staying true to its motto “Everything Amazing,” Springhaus has hand-selected the best and newest offerings in lighting, furniture and accessories to showcase its design expertise and trend knowledge. Built and conceived as a “Design Playground,” the showroom continually updates its display selection to keep things looking fresh for regular clients, and its impressive size allows many larger-scale fixtures that cannot often be showcased to shine.

A merchandising strategy that includes four vignettes — Mountain Modern, Classic Farmhouse, International and Traditional Elegance — provides a cohesive look with a wide variety of brands and price points, and makes the shopping experience a breeze. 

Springhaus’ experienced staff makes shopping there that much better. They came from other flooring, lighting and furniture showrooms to bring their collective expertise together. Many projects utilize a team including a dedicated cabinet designer, lighting designer, flooring specialist and project coordinator, so the staff finds real synergies and greater creativity every day by working together under one roof.

“Our vendors, customers and visitors tell us every day that they have never been to a store like Springhaus,” says Marketing Director Brittany Styacich. “We offer a real destination shopping experience. Our showroom features a two-story circular slide, ping pong table and hanging chairs in our Swingers Lounge so our customers can have a little fun as part of the shopping experience.”

Q: Opening a new showroom in today’s landscape would be considered a bold move. What gave you the confidence to move forward with a new brick-and-mortar?

A: “Springhaus answers a need for builders, designers and homeowners to be inspired and

provide a one-stop solution for their project,” says Styacich. “We planned and built a real destination showroom that visitors would talk about and share with their friends and neighbors. Everyday folks say they are amazed and excited about shopping at Springhaus.” 

 

Wabash Lighting (now Kendall Lighting Center), Fort Wayne, IN

wabash lighting

 

Wabash Lighting, a division of Wabash Electric, has been northern Indiana’s premier lighting showroom for more than 40 years, focused on bringing the latest and greatest from the lighting industry to the surrounding communities. In late November 2018, that surrounding community got a bit larger when the company was acquired by Kendall Lighting Center. 

The acquisition will allow Wabash to grow and expand its reach exponentially. They had four showroom locations in northern Indiana, and with the merger, they’ll now have a showroom in Grand Rapids, MI, as well. “Expanding into a new state and a new market is something we are very thrilled to be a part of,” says Chesney Boyer, Marketing Manager.

A company built on tradition and value, Wabash has team members who treat their customers like family. With a large emphasis on training, certifications and continuing education, the professional lighting consultants are constantly growing in their knowledge, providing a point of differentiation from other local retailers and online distributors. 

“I have witnessed team members giving the same undivided attention and expertise to customers buying just one lightbulb as they do with customers needing a whole home of lighting,” says Boyer. “I’m always impressed to see the relationships our lighting team builds with the members of the community.”

In 2018, and continuing into 2019, Wabash is placing a large emphasis on increasing its social media presence. The showroom launched a new and improved Wabash Lighting website at the end of 2018, which features an inspiration gallery, lighting sizing and tips, and much more. Lots of positive feedback on the site bodes well to drive traffic to the brick-and-mortar showrooms as it evolves even further.

Q: Look back 10 years at your showroom and reflect on where you were then versus now.

A: “In the last 10 years we opened our fourth showroom location, renovated existing showrooms and continued to adapt with the changing trends in decorative lighting. In addition to those great accomplishments, the biggest thing we’ve noticed about then versus now is the increase in smart lighting demands. In recent years we’ve put a huge emphasis on increasing our smart lighting technology in our showrooms. We even have a smart lighting ‘experience center’ at our Fort Wayne showroom that allows us to show customers how simple innovations can make a difference in their everyday routines.”

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