The Floor Covering Specialty Store Continues to Meet Challenge After Challenge
In both cases, there were huge numbers involved as both opened and purchased existing retail and contract operations. All the while, there was the growth of the big-box retailers, not to mention challenges of the once-soft economy.
Then Home Depot opened its Expo Design Center stores and some were quick to pronounce the death of the independent floor covering retailer. “They might have survived the first wave, but this will kill them” seemed to be the thinking in some quarters. (Not our thinking at all.)
Make no mistake about it, the independent is still very much alive. He is strictly independent, part of a buying group, partnering with manufacturer programs, or in a modified form of franchise. Shaw, of course, gave up the retail pathway and sold off stores to Flooring America (at that time known as CarpetMax). Flooring America, after months of being caught up in a real financial buzz saw, recently filed for Chapter 11.
Now, Home Depot is challenging with a new operation. It’s called The Home Depot Floor Store, the first of which opened this month in the Dallas area. The format is modeled after specialty floor covering stores. Along with showing every type of floor covering, they carry window and wall coverings. The initial store covers 45,000 square feet.
Nothing revolutionary in this approach. It is based on offering product selection and installation services. If this sounds familiar to you, it should because they are two of the primary components the independent floor covering retailer relies on to achieve success.
So, can Home Depot Floor Stores succeed? Yes, they can. Can they drown the independent floor covering retailer? No way. Because the savvy floor covering specialty store has key ingredients that so many mammoth operations discovered — the hard way — that they don’t have. Those ingredients include knowledge, service, dedication, professional salespeople, and a host of others skillfully mixed together through entrepreneurial spirit.
I am happy to report that the independent specialty store’s future continues to be bright.