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View Full Version : Retail storefront? What do you think?


Mr. Quik electric
03-22-2009, 10:14 PM
So, the owner of our company asks me last week, "what do you think of having a retail store to sell our lighting in? Do you think that would work?" I tell him I have no idea since I have never heard of anyone that has tried. What do you guys think? It would have to be in a high traffic area to even be feasable if you ask me. It could be fully landscaped inside with incredibly lit gardens and such. Not sure about it though. Any thoughts?

TXNSLighting
03-22-2009, 11:15 PM
Personally i dont think its a bad idea. I think it could be really nice.

Pro-Scapes
03-22-2009, 11:16 PM
there is a large multi state company that just opened up a retail store in my town that specializes in lighting. While we do 2 totally different styles of lighting I think they are doing pretty well with it. If I am not mistaken what I heard was it was a joint venture with a landscaper and a landscape architect.

Personally I would wait to see how well the lighting takes by mining the existing client base of Mr quick. You may soon have more work than you can handle.

MAGLIGHTING
03-22-2009, 11:17 PM
So, the owner of our company asks me last week, "what do you think of having a retail store to sell our lighting in? Do you think that would work?" I tell him I have no idea since I have never heard of anyone that has tried. What do you guys think? It would have to be in a high traffic area to even be feasable if you ask me. It could be fully landscaped inside with incredibly lit gardens and such. Not sure about it though. Any thoughts?


You can kill 2 birds with 1 stone tomorrow. When you call SPJ ask them how their Hollywood Electric and sales West retail store does. They are located right off a major freeway and have a sign visible from the freeway that reads Landscape lighting showroom. Then you can call BQL lighting which is a stones throw away and ask them the same as they also own a retail store that caters to DIYers (they also send their employees out to install without the proper license or insurance to do so).Then you can call CLL who again is located in the same area. They have a retail website and a beautiful showroom at their industrial park site that again caters to the diy purchaser. Valley industrial electric again in the same general vacinity has a retail showroom that showcases fountains and landscape lighting- they also are supposed to be wholesale to the trade-yeah right. Then there is Dabmar who has a retail store, no showroom and several other smaller brands and internet discounters all in the same area that have either retail store locations or industrisl park locations all easily found by those searching for landscape lighting.
I guess the answer is yes in the Los Angeles area because there are so many of them located in the same locale and none have gone under yet so I suppose it can be done. How profitable they are , I don't know you'll have to ask.

irrig8r
03-23-2009, 12:36 AM
There is an electricial contractor who opened up an outdoor lighting showroom here. Nightscaping was really courting their business (to the annoyance of my regular distributor). I made one purchase there before I knew who owned them.

Then one day when approaching an existing irrigation client about replacing his worn out outdoor lighting I found out that someone from The Lightworks had already been out, measured, counted and had replacement fixtures on order. Sounds like they were going to do the install too.

www.thelightworksstore.com

They probably sell more to DIYers than contractors, but I know a few guys who buy their stuff there.

Classified
03-23-2009, 01:04 AM
I know im never in this part of the forum so please do not see me as an intruder but the thread title caught my eye while searching all the new posts.

I think it could definately work but with all retail; LOCATION is the key. Also, what market do you plan to cater too? the DIY'ers or as a showroom to sell your work?

I think a store close to a nursery or possibly even a home depot would be a good area. That way you have already funnled your likely target customers into one area. Then the marketing should be your next very best friend.

GL!

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
03-23-2009, 05:59 AM
I have considered two retail storefront concepts. I seriously looked into the idea of renting a small space, doing the nice displays, stocking the product and promoting both the services of INTEGRA along with offering 'pro grade' components to the DIY'er and 'competing contractor' market. The only problem with this was the overhead! I could not get my head around how I would make this a profitable venture given the monthly expenses and the seasonal nature of the business. Then there is the issue of retail / DIY customers. From all of my investigations, the problem with selling pro-grade product to DIY customers is 'warranty' claims. Seems that no matter how good the product, if it is installed incorrectly, something will fail and sure enough the products end up back on your shop floor as a warranty claim. Either that or you phone rings off the hook asking for a site visit. (So I have heard from others.) You have to keep in mind that any type of storefront operation is going to require keen, well trained, knowledgable staff too.

I have also explored the concept of a Kiosk, basically a POP display insided an existing complimentary business. This idea seems to have a lot more merit. Not for the purpose of selling components to the DIY community (will you really be able to compete with on-line retailers? I think not) but for the purpose of promoting your contracting services to an already interested (almost captured) market. A small disply, well lit, strategically placed in a Garden Center, or Outdoor furniture Retailer, etc. could go a long way to sparking interest and gaining motivated leads.

Perhaps in 12 month a year markets, such as CA, AZ, TX, FL, etc the retail store concept can make a go of it. But there is no way that in a season market, a retail store selling only Outdoor Lighting can cover the 12 month a year expenses.

Regards.

Pro-Scapes
03-23-2009, 08:24 AM
I would think if you were going to do something in your area james you would no doubt need to add a complimentry winter time business like holiday lighting or holiday decor.

I like the kiosk idea. I just dont have the time to take on a storefront idea.

I like being a small scale operation. It allows me to dedicate myself personally to each and every project. I also feel you cannot suggest or spec products to complete a project without a site visit anyways.

MAGLIGHTING
03-23-2009, 08:47 AM
I would think if you were going to do something in your area james you would no doubt need to add a complimentry winter time business like holiday lighting or holiday decor.

I like the kiosk idea. I just dont have the time to take on a storefront idea.

I like being a small scale operation. It allows me to dedicate myself personally to each and every project. I also feel you cannot suggest or spec products to complete a project without a site visit anyways.


This is true. That is why I am flying out to Cape Cod Massachusetts this morning to set up a job, coordinate with other trades working there and work out the particulars of doing a project that is 3,000 miles away from my home base of operation. God bless America :usflag:

klkanders
03-23-2009, 11:18 AM
Mike, Best of luck to you on that venture! Keep us posted on this project if you can as it sounds like a great one.
You might encounter a little turbulence over the center of the country. Some nice spring thunderstorms going on!

Keith

Mr. Quik electric
03-23-2009, 01:58 PM
excellent points and converstion. The more I read here the more I am shying away from a retail store. I really like the idea of strategically placed Kiosks though, high end retail garden centers, malls and the like. We are literally busting at the seems at our current shop location. One idea would be to buy a building with the extra room for a large showroom space. The reason for this is I could have my potential customers come to our showroom where I would literally have huge gardens set up inside with waterfeatures, dining venues, false home front with nice architectural details etc, where I could show all of the lighting possibilites insitu instead of wasting so much time on demos. If the layout is done right I think it could be a very persuasive and powerful sales tool. Imagine being able to show them all the various possibilites together in one large warehouse. If we already need the building, maybe getting one just a bit bigger could be beneficial for something like this. I am not talking DIYers here though, just those seeking our services in a very captivating atmosphere. How does this grab you?

klkanders
03-23-2009, 02:12 PM
That certainly sounds like something more promising than just a showplace. If the extra room is not needed at the front of the additional warehouse this idea could work well for you. At worst if it didn't accomplish what you hoped for it could be returned to storage or more office space.

Keith

Pro-Scapes
03-23-2009, 02:34 PM
If you were going to do all that I would have things set up with 3 to 4 systems. 1 system a very basic uplight system. Hit another button the background lighting comes into play. Yet another button provides some downlighting.

Not everyone you meet wants the full show. Some just want something soft and subtle.

If I were to build a mock up homefront I would do so with 2 to 3 different systems installed so you could really get a feel of the clients likes and dislikes. The storefront is definatly a doable scenario but I wouldnt look for it to replace an onsite visit or even the on site demo. Its kind of like buying something out of a catalog then finding out it doesnt quite fit right.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
03-23-2009, 06:16 PM
Tim, I don't know about your clients there, but around here they would much rather you come out to their home at their convenience, rather than ask that they drive to any showroom, consuming valuable travel time, etc etc.

Really if you are that good (and you are!) and you have an excellent portfolio (and you do!) and you come highly recommended (as you do!) and you are backed by an excellent company with a strong reputation (as it appears you now are!) then you really should not have to spend any time doing demos, nor should you worry about 'dazzling' anyone with mock ups at a showroom that will undoubtedly have more differences than similarities to their home.

Just do it! get out there and set up the meetings, show off the photos, design, sell, install and maintain! You are "Da Man" in your market now "Make it so."

Mr. Quik electric
03-23-2009, 09:36 PM
Cool, thanks for all the advice guys. I wanted to bounce it off the true professionals out there and get some feedback. James, I think I have to agree with you. There just is no substitute for meeting on their turf. I have found it is always easier to sell when the customer is comfortable and at ease. As far as demos, I am not really offering them unless they ask for them now. If they do I am charging for them (refundable of course with a signed contract). But I havn't really had to too much yet. The show was good, I have around 35 appointments still to get to. I have only been able to meet about 6 so far but I am meeting 3-4 a day so I should get through them fairly quickly. I was thinking today, instead of setting up a storefront I will probably just outdo myself at next years patio show. I am having lunch with the show coordinator in 2 weeks and discussing next years show idea. I want to have the "featured show display" for the patio show. You know, the one they say "Something new this year, come and see the Garden of light". Fully draped and wrapped in dark cloth but it will be easy to navigate. I have already got a featured scaper on board to set up his display inside for me to light. He doesn't touch jobs under 100k so should be a nice fit. His display this year was absolutely over the top. I notice that most lighting guys around here mainly are selling "fixtures" if you know what I mean. Big Kichler guys. I have yet to see a decent looking lighting job here. A lot of unlensed uplights placed without any logic or reason, tons of "decorative" pathlights, but nothing that really addressed the artistic side of things. I figuire if I can show 125k people going to the homeshow something new and mindblowing with lighting, that may just be better than any storefront anyway. I have some pretty cool ideas brewing in my head about fiber, glass, and some other really over the top cool ideas people have never seen before. It is time people started seeing things in a new light around here.

The Lighting Geek
03-23-2009, 11:24 PM
Tim, I would agree with James as to meeting with clients at their home. I have found that the majority of people who stop by my booth at a home show are the DIY type, but I always get business from the shows. It is probably a 50-100 to one if not higher. I am not sure I would want to have to deal with all of the DIY'ers that a retail store would draw. I would think it would be like the pool product retail stores we have here. They sell everything for the pool at retail prices and service mostly DIY types trying to save a buck or two. The homeowner probably don't see the value of a pool service professional to do it for them. Kiosks sound intriguing though.

David Gretzmier
03-23-2009, 11:41 PM
I am on Spring break this week near San Antonio, and I stayed in Dallas last friday night. The was a store front there that called itself Landscape Lighting. it was visable from the very busy highway 75/central expressway. 2 things I noticed- the lighting on the building was poor and the landscape was poorly lit.

My ultimate plan is to have a store front/warehouse on Interstate 540 with frontage, in Northwest Arkansas. It would be a Christmas Light and Landscape light showroom. Obviously the biggest obstacle is cost. To purchase land to build on with good traffic count is prohibitively expensive to make financial sense. at land prices of 1 million per acre, plus building and parking costs, you would need additional in store sales of 30-40 grand per month to have enough gross profit just to make the mortgage payment. kinda hard to make that leap. not impossible, but unlikely.

indylights
03-24-2009, 10:20 AM
Tim, I hope things are going well with your new position. A couple things. If you want to see some artistic lighting jobs, feel free to pm me. I will happily show you some of the outstanding lighting jobs done in and around Indianapolis by some of the best lighting pros in the business. I'm sure Joey can have his local rep help you find some also. No, we don't all "sell fixtures" and haplessly aim our lights for no purpose. I don't use Kichler, but I don't knock guys who do. The home shows here in Indy are great for tire kickers, hopefully you can close some of those 35-40 appointments you have. For someone who has been here about 3 weeks, your post was a little condescending to the local guys. Gotta go, I have another landscape customer who wants me to randomly place and aim some lights in his newly designed back yard.

Jim Maloney
Sunflower Landscapes