When it comes to iconic U.S. landmarks, there are few more well-known than New York’s Grand Central Terminal, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2013.

Besides housing the largest regional railroad system in the U.S. and third largest in the world, it is the No. 2
tourist attraction in New York behind Times Square and No. 6 overall in the country. Everyday, more than 750,000 people—including 250,000 tourists—pass through Grand Central and, during the holiday season that number jumps to over one million.

At 49 acres, including its famous 36,000 square foot main concourse, Grand Central is the largest train station in the world, and allows it to be multi-use facility. In fact, it has become one of the city’s most successful shopping centers, especially during the winter holiday season when the Grand Central Terminal Holiday Fair in Vanderbilt Hall opens for its annual run, and attracts upwards of 600,000 people per day.

That’s where Shaw Industries comes into play. The manufacturer was not only the main sponsor of the Centennial Holiday Fair, which ran from Nov. 18 to Dec. 24, Shaw donated over 14,000 square feet of product for the six-week holiday fair—including hardwood, resilient and a special red carpet to welcome the millions of people who passed through Grand Central during the promotional period.

The red carpet is significant in a number of ways. First and foremost it is because it was here, at Grand Central, where the expression “rolling out the red carpet” came to be—not in Hollywood like most people think. Back in the early days there were no planes so traveling by train was theway, especially for dignitaries and celebrities who either lived in New York or would regularly visit it. As such, New Yorkers rolled out the red carpet to welcome their special guests.

According to Grand Central historian Danny Brucker, historical records have allowed experts to conclude the original red carpet used at Grand Central was made by the Philadelphia Carpet Co. The mill was founded in 1846 and purchased by Shaw in 1967. Brucker said in its heyday, Vanderbilt Hall was where long distance travelers would wait for their trains.

Randy Merritt, Shaw’s president, said the mill worked with Grand Central historians and executives to recreate the original red carpet because the company was “honored to know its products were tied into one of the world’s best-known places.”

Along with the luxurious carpet in Grand Central Red, made from Anso nylon, Shaw installed Park Avenue resilient, in a specially designed wood color also called Grand Central, and Hudson Bay hardwood in Copperidge. The resilient plank floor is from Shaw’s new 5th & Main collection, while Hudson Bay is part of the mill’s Epic Legends collection.

Trey Thomas, Shaw’s vice president of marketing and product management, noted, “Each piece of flooring installed throughout Vanderbilt Hall and at terminal entrances was carefully selected to complement the iconic architecture of the historic building.”

In addition to helping promote the Holiday Fair in Vanderbilt Hall, which includes 76 artisans and small businesses, primarily from the Greater New York area, and with 85% of the merchandise on sale made in the U.S., Merritt said having millions of people traversing across Shaw’s floors will provide the ultimate test of the products’ ability to perform as “tens of millions of steps will take place on our floors” during the six-week Grand Central Challenge.

“Just like our homes,” he added, “the floors of Grand Central Terminal are put to the test each day with kids, messes and weather. Design and durability have been at the core of Shaw and Grand Central for decades, setting a strong foundation for this year’s partnership in one of the busiest rooms in the world.”

Thomas said this promotion is an opportunity to not only “show the beauty and durability of our floors but to prove to consumers if they can stand up to one of the busiest places in the world, they can stand up in your home.”


Retailer Involvement

Besides setting up a special website to give people live updates on how the floors were standing up, Merritt said the company is planning to showcase how well the floors performed throughout 2014 and is even making sure to include dealers so they can promote it in their local communities.

As such, the day after the official ribbon cutting to open the Holiday Fair, Shaw hosted members of its Dealer Advisory Council for a two-day strategizing session as well as to show them first-hand the abuse the floors will be taking.

Floor Trendsspoke to a number of members after the event and based on their reaction Shaw is hitting a homerun with this promotion.

Jon Pierce, general manager of Pierce Flooring & Design in Billings, Mont., thought the promo was “a fantastic way to generate a universal message to all Shaw customers. Most every homeowner and consumer has those ‘Grand Central’ moments in their homes from time-to-time and can relate to this.”

Steve Weisberg, president of Crest Flooring in Allentown, Pa., feels this promotion “should surpass the pie fight Shaw did some years back. The underlying theme is that it’s like Grand Central in a lot of family’s homes and so the tie-in is ideal. I can remember my mom saying many times, ‘What do you think this is…Grand Central?’ and that was when we’d come home from baseball practice with guys from the team or when my sister would bring her friends over and then the activity never stopped.”

Jamie Hodge, president of Hodge Carpets in Spartanburg, S.C., noted she was so confident “Shaw has a winner in this promotion…we immediately ordered 600 square feet of the Grand Central resilient for our showroom floor, and can’t wait to share the Grand Central story with our customers. It is not an exaggeration to say that everyone has heard, or used the phrase ‘Busy as Grand Central’ so it is a natural reference to the durability of the Shaw products that are installed there.”

Weisberg added, “Shaw’s job is to keep the promotion alive to its dealers and our job will be to do our best to keep the promotion alive to our customers.” As such he will “try and put together a Grand Central product grouping that will serve as an initial go-to for my sales staff.”

Hodge pointed out “Shaw promises to actively promote the Grand Central Challenge through its national channels, and we plan on tying in with our local advertising starting this spring.”

Pierce summed it best when he noted, “Watch and listen for the various dealer and consumer marketing involvement in the coming months. This was no easy task in pulling off this idea and kudos go out to Shaw for accomplishing it. It is also a great tie into the birthday of this 100-year-old iconic hub of America. This was a ‘Grand’ accomplishment for all Shaw customers.”

For more information about the products used as well as the Grand Central Challenge and promotion, contact your local Shaw rep or visit shawfloors.com/