Gross Electric - Toledo, OH
Gross Electric’s current Toledo location has been serving customers in northwest Ohio since 1970, but the family-owned business has been around for 110 years. Marketing Manager Elizabeth Gibson attributes the showroom’s longstanding success to the staff’s dedication.
“Our staff is the key to making it all work,” Gibson says. “The best customer service comes from the best employees, so we strive to support them through training and benefits that make them want to stay. And they do.”
The showroom offers decorative lighting, control and shade systems; architectural and commercial lighting; cabinet and door hardware; and home furnishings, merchandised in vignettes so the customer can envision what the products will look like in their homes. The merchandising team takes its cues from social media trends, modifying trending looks to fit their market.
Staff is committed to community service. Laurie Gross, President of Gross Electric, serves as the Chair of the board of the Sight Center of Northwest Ohio.
“We see a very real connection between lighting and supporting the mission of the Sight Center to provide services for those with permanent vision loss to live, work and play independently in our community,” Gibson says.
Although the showroom closed during the COVID-19 crisis, Gross Electric adjusted their marketing messaging to encourage customers to shop their online catalog. All paid search efforts were modified to drive customers to the e-commerce site, and the team quickly added a live chat and Virtual Fixture Selection tool to make online ordering even easier.
“We look forward to seeing how these new initiatives will help us better meet the needs of our customers a year from now. We hope that choosing a narrative focused on our added services, rather than our limitations during the pandemic, will pay dividends in the long run.”
This speaks to Gross Electric’s dedication to constantly improving. Whether implementing the latest marketing tools, attending training seminars, or offering state-of-the-art lighting technology, Gross Electric is committed to staying ahead of the curve and moving the business into the next generation.
Galleria Lighting - Greenwood Village, CO
Two years ago, Denver’s Galleria Lighting decided to expand their offerings in the retail, custom homes and designer areas. They also identified the southern metro Denver area as a largely untapped market, rife with opportunity to work with homeowners and home builders outside of downtown.
“Putting those things together, we wanted to open a large impactful space that would really put into perspective what lighting can be and how it can impact a space,” says Keith Brown, General Manager of both Galleria Lighting locations. “We wanted a convenient location with high visibility, and I think we have accomplished that in Greenwood Village.”
At two-and-a-half times larger than the Denver location, the 10,000-square-foot store features manufacturer-branded galleries displaying more than 1,500 hanging fixtures, 120 ceiling fans and 200 bath fixtures.
“We maximize joint marketing to promote our showrooms in both Denver and Greenwood Village and raise exposure for our leading manufacturer partners,” says Steven Haworth, Sales Representative for Galleria Lighting. “This gives our shoppers the ability to look at more than just fixture design and allows comparison of quality in key brands they can purchase with pride and confidence.”
In addition to lighting, the store also has areas of respite for customers to check sports scores or for kids to play while their parents shop.
As Colorado entered Level 2 of its stay-at-home plan, the showroom resumed operations on May 11, limiting the number of people in the store and requiring customers and employees to wear masks. The store also implemented curbside pickup, a service Brown says will continue after the COVID-19 crisis is over. Customers pull into a designated parking space, use their phone to sign in and confirm their order, and wait for an employee to load their purchase into the car.
“We are striving for a zero-contact space between ourselves and our customers. While it can feel a little impersonal, we know that it is what is best for everyone,” Brown says. “Customers appreciate our effort to ‘slow the spread,’ but we have also found that they love the convenience.”
Lightform Lighting - Scottsdale, AZ
Creativity and innovation permeate the culture of Lightform Lighting. The 2,500-square-foot showroom is packed with modern fixtures designed to inspire customers.
“Our intent is to display lighting as art and to show how integral it is to space and design,” says Chad Rothe, Founder and Owner of Lightform Lighting. “We operate on the philosophy that lighting is intrinsic to architecture and interiors, and less of an accessory or add-on. Our showroom performs as a gallery and becomes a palette for elegant, playful and cutting edge fixtures. We want designers, architects, builders and clients to visually be inspired by the potential of what lighting can do through our showroom installations.”
In business for nearly three years, Lightform’s location among downtown Scottsdale’s design community makes it a well-positioned industry resource. The showroom’s 110-square-foot light lab is a robust educational tool to help design professionals and end users see a selection of fixtures and color temperatures in action.
The rest of the store is merchandised to show how lighting can enhance the architecture of a space. Rothe and his team work closely with manufacturers and representatives to stay up to date on the latest products and technology.
“We keep an open and honest conversation with our manufacturers about our experience and input from clients,” Rothe says. “We feel it’s important to relay feedback in an effort to always create a better product for the end user.”
Lightform regularly hosts seminars and mentoring sessions in the showroom for local design students, and staff selects charities to support at the beginning of each year. Rothe said the coronavirus pandemic has inspired him and his team to further their outreach when the social distancing measures are lifted.
“Post COVID-19, one of our main objectives will be to connect and give back to the community that has given us so much,” he says. “We plan to volunteer our time and resources to organizations that provide assistance to citizens most affected by recent events. By maintaining great relationships through transparency, trust and giving back, we assure our clients and community that we are also here for them.”
NorthWest Lighting and Accents - Mount Prospect, IL
Aptly named for its location just northwest of Chicago, NorthWest Lighting and Accents is a two-story 66,000-square-foot lighting showroom and experience center that caters to just about anyone looking for lighting. According to Amanda Wolfe, Residential Lighting Division Manager, the showroom functions as an integrated space to serve consumers, designers, architects, contractors and commercial establishments.
Throughout the showroom, visitors will find vignettes and galleries that showcase the latest lighting trends and technology, as well as experience centers that demonstrate what different lighting fixtures look like under particular conditions. These areas are themed, showcasing a different quality or technology in each one. For example, Made in America galleries showcase domestically manufactured brands and locally sourced fixtures that demonstrate craftsmanship and quality.
“In each gallery we feature visual aids and tangible items that clients can interact with to experience the quality hands-on,” Wolfe says. “Some of these aids include videos showing the design process, storyboards telling about company histories, a raw cast brass chandelier frame clients can pick up to feel the weight and quality versus lesser quality fixtures, forged components of fixtures that clients can touch and feel, cases of crystals showing different faceting techniques, and an abundance of finish samples clients can carry around to compare and contrast.”
With 50,000 cars driving past the store each day, taking advantage of the windows facing the road was an obvious choice. In 2019, the merchandising team revamped these windows to showcase market trends to capture the attention of drivers commuting to and from the city.
While reflecting on how to keep customers shopping in the brick-and-mortar store, the team opted for a multi-sensory shopping experience, stimulating all five senses and keeping visitors engaged. This strategy includes a well-designed space with displays that are routinely updated so there’s always something new to see; reed diffusers and essential oils for a pleasant scent throughout the showroom; the addition of a sound system throughout the showroom playing trendy, upbeat music; snacks and refreshments at the reception station; and accents and fixtures that customers are encouraged to touch and feel.
During the coronavirus crisis, the NorthWest Lighting team took the store’s mandated closure as an opportunity to reconfigure displays for a fresh look when the time comes to reopen. The time away was also a good opportunity for the team to reflect on business partnerships and store operations to emerge from the closure stronger than ever.
“We’ve created punch lists of ideas to improve our business relationships,” Wolfe says. “This includes creating new marketing strategies, plans for fresh new display updates, inventory cleanup, and evaluating what training is needed for our team. We plan to reopen with all of the new products and tools available to us.”
The Lighting Corner - Grandville, MI
With two locations in western Michigan, The Lighting Corner is a family-owned business that has been around since Polly Agers opened it in 1984. The store remains in the Agers family, with Polly’s son Scott Agers at the helm as President.
“Our goal has always been not to be the biggest but to be the best,” Agers says. “We are continually working as a team to come up with ways to set us apart from the rest.”
The team is the showroom’s biggest asset, according to Agers. Not only are the staff knowledgeable (they’ve been attending the Dallas Market for the last 35 years), they are also eager to help. So eager, in fact, they make it a point to always answer the phone within the first four rings.
The team at The Lighting Corner believes that merchandising sells products, so the company’s merchandiser is tasked with switching up the displays weekly to regularly ensure a fresh and new customer experience. Lamps, mirrors, wall art and furniture are all incorporated into the merchandising to help contribute to a comfortable shopping experience.
The company also has recently increased its digital presence, becoming more active on social media and through email newsletters. Agers believes this extra time spent on digital marketing has increased foot traffic to the stores.
As lighting showrooms were not considered essential businesses during the coronavirus crisis, having these digital tools under their belts will be more important than ever.
“Over the last 36 years we have been through many ups and downs, but our reputation not only in our community but with our partner vendors is one we are very proud of,” Agers says. “We feel very blessed to be part of the lighting family and feel blessed to have friends all over the country that do what we do.”