Given retailing’s current focus on all things digital, it’s easy for merchants to overlook one of their most prized assets: their showrooms.
BrandSource parent AVB perceived a growing disparity between some members’ aging storefronts and their state-of-the-art websites. To address the situation and raise showroom awareness, the group announced an AVB Makeover: Store Edition contest, awarding complimentary remodels to a handful of member dealers.
The renovations, to be performed by an outside contractor, will target key design areas like paint, flooring, lighting, signage and merchandising concepts to give the stores a fresh and inviting look and feel.
Winners can count on a more consistent and compelling shopping experience for customers across their online and in-store sales channels, while all members will benefit from an easy-to-execute re-fresh guide provided by AVB that will be based on the Makeover takeaways.
“This isn’t just a great opportunity for the winners and their customers,” said Jim Ristow, CEO of AVB/BrandSource. “The store remodels will inspire other members to invest in showroom updates that, following our Makeover system, can be implemented very economically.”
The competition drew a vast number of contestants from across the country who entered by submitting photographs of their showrooms along with a brief explanation of why their stores would be good candidates for the remodels. As AVB’s Chief Technology Officer Dave Meekings noted, “It shows that our members understand the value of a really professional-looking selling environment. We’ve given our members best-in-class websites, they have the best-in-class sales reps on the floor, and now with this tool they can get a best-in-class environment.”
The submissions were reviewed by a panel of independent judges, who considered which stores would get the most bang from the upgrades.
After long and careful deliberation, the judges whittled the submissions down to four winning BrandSource dealers. They are:
- Lyle’s TV and Appliance of Elkhorn, Wisc.
- Millar’s Appliance of Bay City, Mich.
- Riester’s Appliances of Auburn, N.Y.
- Broadview Appliance of Oak Harbor, Wash.
The winners were notified by phone and were understandably thrilled by the news. “Oh my gosh, I’m on a cloud right now!” said Lyle’s co-owner and secretary Sue Schinke. “I’m flabbergasted.”
Lyle’s, a “Best of Walworth County” award winner that has served the Elkhorn community for years, plans to point the Makeover crew at the company’s “ugly TV room, which hasn’t been updated since the 1980s,” Schinke said.
Rhonda Bergeron, a member of the Millar’s sales team and first on the notification call, was equally jubilant. “That’s amazing, amazing! I’m just ecstatic!” Millar’s has been serving the Bay City area since 1938, and Bergeron is hoping for a new color scheme and carpeting to modernize the store’s décor.
“It’s so far behind the times,” she said.
At Riester’s, office manager Jacqie Calkins, who submitted the company’s Makeover application, said winning the contest “made my month, my year!” The Auburn location, which is the older of Riester’s two Upstate New York showrooms, “feels dated when you walk in,” she said, and its “old-style” lighting fixtures can stand a refresh.
Devon Webber, owner of Broadview Appliance, was hardly nonchalant either upon learning of his win. “That’s awesome; this is super exciting!” he said.
His company, which began as a lawn and garden shop more than half a century ago, is in need of new flooring and exterior signage. “The flooring is pretty dated, and the signage is really old and yellowed,” he said. “It’s the yellowest sign in the strip mall.”
“I did a little bit of painting here and there,” Webber added, but entered the contest with the hope of a more extensive update.
The makeovers will begin in the coming weeks, and low-cost remodeling ideas, based on the showroom upgrades, will be shared with all AVB and BrandSource dealers, so that everyone benefits from the program.
The concept, and the groups’ singular focus on its members, wasn’t lost on contestant Carie Groves, owner of McEntire’s Home Appliance in Lincoln, Ill., who felt compelled to reach AVB by email.
“Thank you for the opportunity to enter,” she wrote. “Although we were not chosen as a winner, I appreciate what BrandSource does for its members and I congratulate all the winners and look forward to seeing their makeovers!”
Added Groves, “Thank you BrandSource, for being the best buying group we have ever been a part of!”