Dulles Electric Supply - Sterling, VA
The largest lighting showroom in the Mid-Atlantic at 13,000 square feet, Dulles Electric Supply, in Sterling, VA, touts myriad company galleries, a recessed lighting lab and a progressive digital presence. In the current environment, e-commerce has picked up as showroom traffic has decreased in the months since the coronavirus pandemic has limited customers in-store.
Residential Lighting Division Manager Stephen Miller says, “We’re still open to the public, but our showroom traffic has been very light.” He credits the contract and e-commerce portions of the business with keeping things moving. The company has also taken precautions for its customers and employees with sanitizer stations, and socially distanced work stations.
One of the key elements that has helped Dulles Electric Supply stay successful, Miller adds, is its staff, who are trained ALA-certified lighting specialists. In 2019, the lighting retailer joined the Lighting One cooperative, giving employees access to training, networking and support. Dulles also has a WAC Lighting recessed lighting lab, an outdoor room and an 80,000-square-foot warehouse. As for its brand-focused galleries, that came about when the retailer moved in 2009.
Further, says Miller, Dulles Electric has partnered with marketing firm, Madwire, to enhance its website, social media presence, online reputation and multi-channel digital advertising.
As much effort as Dulles Electric has put into support for its customers is as much as it has put into its dedication to its community. “Every year we sponsor local high schools with necessities for their sports teams. We also donate to the local Loudon Co. Fire Department and Habitat for Humanity,” says Miller. “This past year we donated hundreds of Mickey and Minnie Mouse soft lights for the Innova Children’s Hospital.”
As the lighting and retail industries navigate uncharted waters this year, Dulles Electric has ensured its survival and success with strong relationships and forward-thinking technology. Says Miller, “Our strength is working with people and building relationships.”
Idlewood Electric - Highland Park, IL
Need inspiration with your lighting purchase? Then Idlewood Electric, in Highland Park, IL, is a lighting showroom worth visiting. According to Rachel Lansing Sotoloff, Director of Marketing and Designer Relations, Idlewood has worked tirelessly with its sales reps to reinvigorate showroom displays, ensuring the 10,000-square-foot showroom is constantly evolving.
“Throughout our showroom, we feature real-life vignettes so our customers can get a clear sense of how a fixture will look in their home,” she says. Beyond fixtures, the lighting retailer has partnered with a well-known interior designer in Chicago to create The Design Room, in which the designer utilizes a variety of Idlewood lighting sources. “This cross-promotional opportunity gives our customers the opportunity to see a merchandising display in a completely new light,” Sotoloff adds.
Catering to customers comes first at Idlewood. Idlewood’s success relies on its customers and word-of-mouth marketing. “One of our favorite customer experiences is when multi-generational customers come into our showroom,” Sotoloff notes. It’s no wonder that Idlewood maintains its customer relations through generations. “Our sales associates are dedicated to helping our customers through their entire lighting process. From the moment a customer walks into our showroom, our team is assisting every step of the way. Our job is not complete until we know our customers are fully satisfied.” Additionally, Idlewood is able to see several generations at once because the lighting showroom is celebrating more than 60 years as a woman-owned business.
With longstanding manufacturer relationships, Idlewood is able to offer its customers the latest in technology and design while counting on the reliability, quality and loyalty that comes with vendors and sales reps who are as much family as colleagues, Sotoloff adds. Idlewood applies those same family ideals to its more than 100 employees, some who have been with the company for 40 years. That team comprises ALA-certified Lighting Experts, and each showroom sales associate brings a wealth of lighting knowledge to the job. The team is “energetic, enthusiastic and passionate.”
“Our strong relationships with our manufacturers, the foresight to plan ahead, the educational opportunities and events we provide to our customers and employees, and our dedicated and loyal staff have made Idlewood Electric reach the level of success it has today,” Sotoloff says.
Lightstyle of Orlando - Orlando, FL
Not a retailer to rest on past successes, Lightstyle of Orlando continues to evolve its showroom and its customer interaction on a range of platforms. The retail showroom touts experienced staff and a floor plan that helps customers visualize lighting through detailed vignettes. “We have a beautiful location, and we’ve cornered the ‘wow’ factor for lighting showrooms in Orlando,” says Hollie Gonzalez, General Manager of that flagship location.
Lightstyle shops High Point Market each year to find the furnishings destined for its showroom floor. According to Gonzalez and Wendy Rensenhouse, head of advertising, buying and designer relations, High Point Market is where the inspiration starts. “Trips to High Point were always part of the buying process here,” says Rensenhouse. “We’ve gotten much better at taking what we see happening at High Point as a starting point. That’s where we see the ‘new.’”
Even as the coronavirus pandemic has blunted customer traffic in the showroom, “we’ve been busy,” says Gonzalez. “We’re using this time to strip our outdoor and bath sections so they are fresh and smooth. This is an opportunity to reorganize and regroup. Make it look better and cleaner than it was before.” Lightstyle of Orlando has been able to hold onto all of its employees through the CARES Act. “We chose to lock the door to retail for the safety of our customers and our staff,” says Gonzalez. The showroom plans to reopen with the necessary safety measures.
Lightstyle of Orlando also prides itself on its digital presence, a mix of e-commerce, inspiration and connection. How-tos educate customers through the retailer’s Lighting 101 and Lighting Trends and Design blogs, while an extensive product offering allows customers to research their lighting needs before coming to the store. “Everyone is on the internet looking,” says Rensenhouse. However, she added, before a customer purchases lighting, it’s important to see it and have a guide to the more technical aspects. “Our associates know what questions to ask a customer to get them engaged,” she notes. “They ask to see a picture of the room and guide the customer to the right fixtures and lighting for their needs.”
Lightstyle of Orlando also works with area designers, offering a designer direct program and designer rebates, giving them options of going direct to the manufacturer or working with the retailer to take care of logistics. “We try to tailor to everyone individually,” says Rensenhouse.
Lightstyle looks forward to getting back to business as usual. “We’ve set the tone for an expectation our customers expect,” says Rensenhouse.
Lightstyles - Costa Mesa, CA
From its inception in 1986 as a showroom focused primarily on light bulbs, Lightstyles — which now hosts 90 percent full lighting options — has been able to assess its challenges head-on and pivot to ensure it can provide the best service and assortment to its customers. Costa Mesa, CA, is the second location for the company and at 10,000 square feet, follows a “customer first” philosophy.
“Our goal is to provide our customers with the highest level of service, a comprehensive collection of current product displayed in an inviting, clean and professionally merchandised showroom, with a team of caring lighting associates who understand and display a passion for lighting. To work at Lightstyles, an ongoing commitment is continuous education is provided and required for all sales personnel,” says President Melvyn Kahn.
For Kahn, the crux of the showroom’s success is providing its customers with the best experience possible. “I believe in one thing. Lighting needs to be seen, felt, touched and explained,” he says. To facilitate this, Lightstyles merchandises its lighting for inspiration, and educates through an LED lighting lab and design department. “We are of the firm belief that when it comes to lighting, especially the architectural lighting, the better informed the client, the smarter choices can be employed,” he adds.
While Kahn believes that experiencing lighting is key, the company does tout a full e-commerce website, complete with tutorial videos and easy-to-search lighting options. Kahn sees the website as a vehicle to get customers into the showrooms, but says that digital presence is necessary. For its design clientele, the showroom launched LightstylesPro.com.
With the coronavirus crisis, that digital presence has become critical to the business. Lightstyles services builders so it is “essential” and is open. But most employees are working from home and there’s a skeleton crew in the store. Only four customers are in the store at a time.
As this lighting retailer keeps an eye on what’s next, however, he remains optimistic. Kahn sees the current “stay at home” situation as a potential advantage as the home becomes “an even more important nucleus than it’s ever been,” with home offices, theaters, schoolwork areas and more. “Everything is going to revolve around the home. There is positive potential,” he says.
And Lightstyles is helping in any way it can. As hospitals struggle with PPE shortages, Lightstyles donated UVC light kits to help sterilize masks.
“Lightstyles is committed to “give back” to the community that has supported us since we started the company,” says Kahn. “What is very near and dear to our hearts is ‘making a difference.’”
Progressive Lighting, Sugarloaf - Duluth, GA
A staple in its Georgia community, Progressive Lighting is a family-owned showroom that has stood the test of time. The 54-year-strong lighting retailer bases its success on its ability to meet the needs of local builders, designers and retail customers. “This is a company that cares about its customers as well as its community,” says Michelle Plumley, Director of Training at Progressive.
“The factor that has contributed most to Progressive Lighting’s success has been our employees,” she continues. “We have a team of dedicated and enthusiastic people who love what they do. Our customers can feel the energy when they walk into our showroom.” Progressive’s consultants are ALA-certified so customers can have their questions answered by experts.
Progressive Lighting has also made considerable investments in its merchandising. “Lighting is fun and exciting and we hope to communicate that through our vignettes,” says Plumley. “Our showroom displays are the best way to allow our customers to visualize what a dramatic impact lighting can make in a space.”
Beyond its showroom, Progressive Lighting has a robust e-commerce presence. The lighting retailer is active on Facebook, where the company posts information about sales, including its popular annual Tent Sale in May. For digital advertising, Progressive Lighting uses a program from Xfinity to gain placement in key advertising positions. “This helps move our consumers from their entertainment hubs to our website, which leads to conversions,” Plumley notes.
Progressive Lighting also participates in local events that are chosen by its employees, such as Caring for a Cause, a local non-profit that holds events to raise money for families whose children are battling life-altering illnesses. With strong roots established in its community and a dramatic impact in its merchandising, Progressive Lighting has the right formula for success. Says Plumley, “The community in Duluth knows us and when they need lighting, this is where they send their friends.” FLD