The Shade Store is expanding into new markets across the U.S. at a pace of two to three new showrooms per month. By the end of the year, the national showroom total will be 40 and by the end of 2016, it will be double that amount.
As part of its rapid expansion, The Shade Store has introduced a trade program for interior designers, which offers tiered discounts, COM and 10-day turnaround for custom work.
Editor at Large sat down with Ian Gibbs, co-owner and creative director, to find out a little more about both the past, and future, of The Shade Store.
Greg Spatz, Ian Gibbs, Zach Gibbs, Adam Gibbs and Jay Genzel, co-owners of The Shade Store
Q: What makes now a good time for the aggressive growth plan you've planned?
A: We have put a lot of work and effort into creating a solid infrastructure and because of that we feel more ready than ever for expansion. What we mean by that is: We are producing the best quality product more so than ever before and our workrooms are prepared to handle more volume. Our network of measure and installation professionals not only covers the nation, but they are more knowledgeable than ever about our brand and product. And from an industry standpoint, interior designers have a tough enough job to do as it is, and we simply want to make their jobs easier in this very specialized niche category. We want the designer to focus on their strengths and we’ll take care of all the nuances that go along with ordering a custom product. We call it: Custom Made Simple.
The Shade Store's new showroom in midtown Manhattan
Q: Was there a "tipping point" that really changed the course of the business?
A: When we opened our first showroom in New York City, we realized the importance of providing our customers with the opportunity to come in to see, feel and experience our products and services firsthand. With the success of this showroom model we knew it made sense to expand across the country, which is what we have been working on for the past several years.
Q: What are you most excited for this year?
A: We’re excited to have our story told. By the end of this year, we’ll have close to 40 showrooms open nationwide. We’re participating in major showhouses, trade shows and industry events. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg—we’re really excited to see where the next year takes us as we continue these endeavors.
Q: How important are designers to the business? What percentage of sales does their business make up?
A: Designers make up a third of our business, and they are extremely important to us. We want to make the process seamless from start to finish for them, and be top of mind when it comes to custom window treatment sourcing.
Q: The trade program has been overhauled; what are the biggest benefits to designers?
A: Adam Skalman, who has been with The Shade Store for more than seven years, has taken on the role of trade program director. We’ve implemented a new tiered loyalty discount that will offer even greater savings to designers; we accept C.O.M. (customers own material) on all drapery and roman shade orders; we offer a photo rendering service that allows designers to preview product on photos of their clients’ windows; and our 10 days or less lead times are the fastest in the industry.
Q: What distinguishes The Shade Store from similar companies?
A: Aside from our exclusive product selections, trade benefits, and fast lead times, we provide the gold standard of customer service in the window treatments industry. We offer a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee, and we mean it.
Q: What are some of the trends in window treatments you are seeing this year?
A: Fashion-inspired fabrics are a big hit this year. We’ve seen a lot of bold, graphic prints. Color is coming back in a big way. We have several new Designer Textile Collections launching this year. In addition, motorization is becoming much more prevalent. Soon we’ll be offering an app for customers to download right to their phone where they can control the window treatments. Pretty cool.
Q: Are there any new partnerships or initiatives designers should look out for in the future?
A: Yes! We have a few exclusive partnerships in the works, and although we cannot give the full details, we’ve teamed up with some of the biggest names in home decor and high fashion. There will be a large rollout in just a few weeks, and more to come this fall. Stay tuned!
Q: What should people, especially designers, know about the company that they might not?
A: We do so much more than just shades! Not only do we make the finest quality roller, solar and roman shades but we also produce couture-quality drapery and custom window hardware, as well as wood blinds, cellular shades and vertical systems. Regardless of scope, style or budget, our extremely knowledgeable design consultants will help you find exactly what you are looking for. And on top of that, we provide a nationwide network of measure and installation professionals to ensure an absolute perfect fit.
The Shade Store founder, Milton Goldstein
Q: Can you give us a brief history of the company?
A: The Shade Store is a third-generation family-run custom window treatments company with a rich heritage in luxury textiles and interior design. In 1946, our grandfather Milton opened a small fabric shop in Mount Vernon, New York. The concept was simple: offer customers great quality, style and value. As kids growing up, we spent our summers working the counter, learning the trade and most importantly learning how to treat a customer. Those same principles guide The Shade Store today.
Q: What's your ultimate vision for the company?
A: Of course we want to be known for handcrafting the best custom window treatments in the world, but more importantly I think we want our customer service—the way we treat people—to be our defining characteristic. It’s our goal to ensure that each and every customer has a superb experience with us. Whether you purchase or not, the way we treat our customers must be of the highest level of courtesy and professionalism possible.