For years – 28 of them, to be exact – new Home Furnishings Association member Black Whale Lighting was the shop to shop for high-end lighting in northern San Diego County, Calif. Still is.
But two years ago, owner Kirsten Reece started to see her customers’ shopping habits change. More of them were shopping online. And when they shopped online, they were buying more than just lighting. Reece decided to make a change and diversify.
Reece sent Tom Buckley-Sprick, merchandising director and the store’s lead interior designer, on the road in search of a high-end line of upholstered, American-made furniture that Black Whale could sell in its 6,500-square-foot showroom. The company also beefed up its art and accessories.
“I sat on a lot of sofas, but it was worth it,” Buckley-Sprick says. “It’s the best decision we’ve ever made – knock on wood. Business has been booming this year.”
About a third of that boom can be attributed to furniture sales, Buckley-Sprick says. He’s hoping that trend continues into 2021 and beyond the pandemic.
One-stop shop for all
“We want to be that one-stop shop for designers and customers to come to and leave with everything they need for their homes,” he adds. “I think we’re off to a good start.”
Black Whale joined the HFA in August after discovering the association’s partnership with Synchrony offers members some of the lowest financing rates in the industry. Buckley-Sprick says the company has already started using Synchrony with its customers with great success. “It’s giving them another option to use when it’s time to purchase. The rates are good, but the extra option for our clients is just as important to us.”
Something else that’s important to Black Whale leaders is the connection to other furniture retailers that being an HFA member affords them. “The contacts with other retailers are going to be invaluable,” Buckley-Sprick says. “Just being surrounded by so many other retailers with that kind of knowledge and experience is going to be worth the membership alone.”