As customers pull up to Rollier’s Hardware, they are met with a welcoming glow from the front windows, inviting them in to see what the store offers. The store’s electrical department is located in the front of the store and showcases decorative light fixtures, fans and chandeliers that light up the department and show off what’s inside. Going beyond wires, fuses and circuit breakers, the department caters to customers with specialty electrical and lighting products.
“We have several large windows right out front. People can look in as they’re driving or walking by and see we have a great selection,” says Rollier’s manager Derek Satterfield. “The light from the lamps and fixtures grabs your attention. Reminding passersby that we sell these products is great for business.”
Rollier’s Hardware is known in the area for its wide selection of home improvement and houseware products, all organized in a store-within-a-store concept. While small, occupying about 800 square feet of the store’s nearly 52,000 square feet of retail space, the electrical department wows with a wide selection of basic electrical products and deep product lines in several specialty categories.
The store stocks the basics for electrical, such as switches, dimmers, outlets, circuit breakers and fuses, but shines in specialty categories like lampshades, tabletop and floor lamps, light fixtures, outdoor lighting and decorative switchplate covers.
“We sell the core electrical products, but our focus is on unique pieces, those items you can’t find in the big-box stores or other places,” Satterfield says. “We want to offer lighting fixtures and accessories that are higher quality or have more detail but are still priced right. We are looking for unique, yet timeless, pieces that are also still reasonably priced.”
Satterfield says that the top 10 percent of items in this category have an excellent return on investment.
“There are some specialty items that don’t turn well, so it is important to keep the stock to a minimum on these items and keep the margins healthy on items that don’t have price sensitivity,” he says.
Seeing the Light
One of the electrical department’s top-selling niches is lampshades; the store sells everything from clip-on versions for chandeliers and sconces to shades for stand-alone lamps and night lights. Satterfield says the store’s customers often have a difficult time finding quality lampshades for different size lamps and turn to Rollier’s for the pieces they need. Customers can bring in their old lampshades, lamps or the lamp’s measurements, and the staff helps them find the right fit and style.
“It’s hard to find good quality lampshades, especially for family heirloom-type lamps and antique pieces,” Satterfield says. “We didn’t know this niche was going to be as good as it has been. We started getting requests from customers and bringing those items in, and it’s turned into a great seller for us.”
Lamps and light fixtures are also popular with customers. The store stocks table lamps, floor lamps, ceiling lights, exterior lights, chandeliers and specialty pieces like Tiffany lamps.
Because the electrical department occupies a smaller footprint, the staff focuses on merchandising, utilizing both traditional methods and creative solutions to display and sell products. The lampshades are nicely organized on traditional shelves, divided by size, type and design so customers can easily find what they need. Many of the fixtures and lamps are displayed out of the box and lit up so customers can get a feel for what that piece will look like in their space.
Taking advantage of the department’s endcaps, Satterfield rotates out electrical products to encourage impulse buys and draw attention to the electrical department.
Other Illuminating Niches
Along with lampshades, lamps, light fixtures and parts, Rollier’s Hardware specializes in other niches. It stocks a vast selection of switchplate and outlet covers, including traditional plastic covers in several colors and decorative metal covers. If a customer can’t find what they want, the staff at Rollier’s will special order the items they need.
Satterfield says the store does well selling LED lighting and outdoor solar lighting as well.
“We have many customers purchasing LED lighting, especially the cordless options, because they are versatile to use in a closet or pantry or as task lighting in the garage,” he says. “Solar lights for the yard and garden are also popular, especially now as people are spending more time outside during the pandemic. Customers love the garden lights where they can switch out the bulbs with different designs depending on the season.”
Other niche products Rollier’s sells include replacement globes, hurricanes for ceiling lights, sconces and oil lamps and decorative finials and pulls.
Customers can also shop the store’s two sister e-commerce sites for specialty electrical products like gas light mantles, electric window candles and Christmas light replacement bulbs and fuses.
“We have often been referred to as a store that has ‘everything’ and this is part of our approach,” Satterfield says. “The internet has made some of these items easier to access, but when people have the ability to bring them and match them up to what we carry in-store, it does make it easier for the customer than shopping online.”
Services That Shine
At Rollier’s Hardware, lamp repair services are flourishing because few other stores in the area offer the service. Manager Derek Satterfield offers three best practices for offering lamp repair services at your store.
- Rely on experience. While your lamp repair staffer doesn’t have to be licensed as an electrician, they should have adequate experience to be able to repair everything from antiques to modern pieces.
- Make space. Dedicate room in your store or warehouse to store lamps that are waiting to be repaired or picked up by the owner. Be sure you can secure items to avoid theft or breakage.
- Advertise services. Advertise your services on your website and social media channels and encourage customers to share their experiences (including photos)via word-of-mouth.