2016 Floor Change – The Process Has Begun!

Floor Change Tools

Continuing from my last blog post, we’re now really running with our planning for what the showroom will look like in 2016. Last week we had our conference calls with the Upholstery, Casegoods, and Accessories Teams where they shared PowerPoints with our new product information. Now we know what new items we’ll be working with and also what items will be dropping.

In addition to our planning with our showroom map, we have a lot of tools to gather together. In the picture you can see bins with fabric and leather swatches. Our Visual Associate gathers together all of the material swatches she will need in planning out pairings for room settings. This includes not only fabrics and leathers, but also samples of wood finishes and all of our rug offerings too. We’ve printed out the PowerPoints we viewed last week and have them placed in binders for easy reference (and I updated the labels on them to 2016 after I took this picture). We also have many other sheets to print out and track that our Central partners provide for us. There is a grid to see what pieces pair best together, checklists for accent chairs, and various timelines for different roles (Visual Associate, Inventory Associate, Merchant, Tagging Liaison, etc).

As the Retail Merchant Liaison for our store, I’ve been spending a lot of time lately with our Representation Worksheets. These spreadsheets give us directives on how many showings of each collection we should be showing in our store amongst various categories. Since our store is smaller, we have to make decisions about what not to show. For instance, our grid calls out representation for 18 Bedroom showings, but our showroom only has 14 Bedrooms. In this case, we look at overall collections sales for the company, compare them to how collections are selling in our store and market, and then make our decisions from there. Trust me when I say that there is a LOT of information and feedback to consider!

In two weeks, I’ll be travelling with our Retail Market (Store) Manager and Visual Associate for our new assortment meetings at the Central offices in Minneapolis. We’ll spend four days there and will get to see the new products in-person! We’ll also be able to meet with our Vendor Managers in-person and make sure that our representation choices feel correct to them. I’ll plan my next post to coincide with this visit to share a little more about that process. I’ve been to Central before when I was training as a new hire, but I haven’t been to the assortment meetings. There is a lot of work to do, but I’m excited to be part of it!

Room & Board Anonymous

Hi, my name is Darron and I’m a Room & Board-aholic. I’m addicted to buying furniture. My whole apartment looks like a showroom and I half expect John Gabbert to walk through it one day assuming it’s a pop-up shop in Queens, New York that he didn’t know about. My most recent purchase was that of a Cooper bench that I bought in June. It’s orange and it goes great with my Eames molded plastic chair that is almost the exact same color. That chair sits next to the other three, a white one, a lime green one and a grey one. They go great with my aqua sky Eames rocker that sits in my living room that accents the Peacock Eames with maple dowel legs on the other side of the room which matches the black Eames chair with maple dowel legs I have at my desk. Oh, and my dining table is a Portica with a white quartz top.

I need help.

Sometimes, when I am feeling bad about my compulsive need to spend my Room & Board paychecks on Room & Board furniture, I throw myself onto my Parsons bed with the encased coil ultra-plush mattress and cry into my charcoal percale sheets. If that doesn’t make me feel better, I cry into my steel grey sheepskin rug. And if that doesn’t work, I cry on my Arden high-loop rug in grey that I bought as a floor sample.

It’s a problem.

I don’t really have any plans to buy any more furniture right now, but I do know that my Porter sofa in Doria grass is needing to be replaced. I’ve had it for eight years, four years longer than I have worked at Room & Board, and I need a change. Don’t get me wrong, the sofa is still in great shape. It’s just that I’m bored with it. When I’m surrounded by beautiful furniture all day, how can I not be expected to buy it? Maybe I need to just put it out of mind. I should turn the lights down low (my Library lamp, also a floor sample) and watch a movie. As I stare at the TV that is sitting on my 82″ Hudson media console in walnut with stainless steel legs, maybe I will forget that I have an addiction to Room & Board furniture.

My name is Darron and I’m a Room & Board-aholic.

Office Chairs – they all look alike… or do they?

Recently I was asked to do office chair education for the other Design Associates in our store. I have to admit that I was the perfect one to pick for this because to me they do kinda look alike. How was I going to learn enough about the chairs to teach about them and make it fun? After all, it is the Design Associates who have to unlock the key so our customers purchase the chair that works perfectly for them.

I thought about what kind of questions I could ask customers and how it related to our chairs. For example:

Are you a “percher?” Do you sit at the front of the chair when you are on your computer? If so, the Luce chair from Okamura is perfect for you since the seat actually tilts.

Do you like all the “bells and whistles?” The Sylphy from Okamura or Diffrient World from Humanscale will satisfy. The arms move, the seat moves, you can tilt back, adjust the tension or lock it in your favorite position.

Are you interested in being green? Then both Okamura and Humanscale are compliant GREENGUARD Certified for low chemical emissions and compliant with ANSI/BIFMA standard for Formaldehyde and TOVC emissions. And Okamura chairs are 100% recyclable.

But the FIRST step was to get all of the Design Associates to figure out what the chairs do and this team was ALL IN! We sold 3 office chairs in the next 2 days!

OfficeChairs

Don’t Be Nervous, Be at Their Service

Boston Tea Party

For me, the statement that comes to mind when reflecting on the Massachusetts Tax Free Weekend is simple, “don’t be nervous, be at their service.” A phenomenal quote to say the least, using the fine words of my esteemed colleague, Mr. Ricardo P. in reference to Mr. Snoop Lion or perhaps you may know him formally as the Snoop D O double G. Tax Free Weekend for the State of Massachusetts declares all purchased items $2,500 and under, delivered to locations with a Massachusetts zip code, to be tax exempt. Folks, MA Tax Free is like Black Friday for MA Room & Board customers. As we all know, Room & Board keeps its prices set for the year with no sales, so Tax Free Weekend is the one time a year when our customers can save a little extra. Now a sale of 6.25% would seem like peanuts to most, but with larger orders, removing the tax can really make a huge impact.

Now readers, this was not our first rodeo. This was our second MA Tax Free Weekend as a location. Last year, to recap, our Boston store had been open a mere two months before taking on the highly-anticipated Tax Free Weekend. We broke company records with the highest amount of sales ever in two days as a market and location. The first Tax Free was epic; one for the books. However, this year we even out did ourselves. #toottoot We utilized all our partners and knowledge from last year and perfected our planning so that this year, the holiday would run even more smoothly. With the help from our Central partners at Shop From Home and Web, and one of our favorites, Design Associate Robbie V. from New York, we were able to break our own record. Yes, I think it’s safe to say we passed with flying colors. #hateuscauseyouaintus

I write this from the second floor at Room & Board Boston on the Monday post Tax Free Weekend. Do I feel like I have been hit by a bus? Yes. Do the words Tax Free make my left eye awkwardly twitch? Yes. Is my Nike Fuel Band broken due to the extensive amount of steps made over the two days? Yes. But, am I proud of all our accomplishments as a team? Most definitely. Once every 365 days is just right, and now we can start planning for next year. #toosoon

Overall Wellness for Employees is a Priority and it is Good for our Customers, too!

I started at Room & Board a year ago this month, so I have had a year to understand and appreciate our truly generous and different (for retail) holiday and vacation policy. The policies are generous and “talk the talk” of how they understand that for our total “wellness” we need time away from work to rejuvenate and how that contributes to the overall “10 Customer Experience” we strive to provide.

As I was looking for other opportunities before starting at Room & Board, I was consistently told that working every weekend was part of the “deal.” When you work full time at Room & Board you are given one weekend off a month. I feel so blessed to work retail and still be able to make weekend plans with my friends who are not working in retail.

Where most companies offer two weeks of vacation time a year, we are given three weeks. This is very generous and I can see in my own performance and attitude how having time away from work contributes to the overall positive experience (for the employees and for our customers) that we strive for at Room & Board.

And last but not least we are paid for 6 holidays each year.

I love my work at Room & Board and I love the feeling of being appreciated for the work I do through our generous holiday/vacation time policy. Thank you Room & Board!

The Truth About Cats and Fabric

Cat

Meow, everybody, my name is Tabitha the Tabby. I am cat, hear me roar. So listen, my owners (lovely people, Eddie and Mae) just bought a new couch from Room & Board. I know you fancy types call them “sofas” but I’m a cat, formerly of the street, so I say “couch.” Anyhoo, I am very disappointed with it. They got one called Watson and I hate it. Number one, the main reason they chose that couch was because they used to have a dog named Watson. I mean, who chooses a couch based on the name? If we only owned things that had the names of something we once loved, I would have a cat bed named Dead Mouse I Found Under the Porch. Well, before they bought Watson (I can’t with that name) they brought home a bunch of fabric swatches for me to play with. Their Design Associate told them they should be looking at fabrics with a lot of polyester and acrylic or maybe a microfiber since they had a cat. Rude. Like this Design Associate really even knows my behavior.

My favorite fabric was Vance Snow. It was 90% cotton and I thought it was really soft for me to curl up on. Also, since it was so white, I thought my hairballs would look great on them. They’d really “pop,” you know? I also loved the Tannon Flax which was 85% cotton: just enough cotton for me to be able to puke on it and let it really soak in. I was also quite attracted to Orla Ivory because it had a lot of texture for me to get my claws under it and pull it apart. Eddie and Mae bought me a scratching post but why would I use that when they have perfectly good furniture for me to destroy? Tamm was another fabric I liked. Although it seemed like it would be easy to shred, it was too dark and I didn’t think my cat hair would be seen enough on it.

They eventually decided on something called Sunbrella Charcoal. Great for them, bad for me. It’s way too dark so every time I shed some cat hair, you can’t even see it. The fibers are so closely woven together that it’s near impossible for me to claw at it. And to top it off, it was originally designed for outdoor furniture, so it’s waterproof and really hard to stain. Thanks, Room & Board. You have really made my job of ruining furniture extremely difficult.

What’s the hoopla about the end-of-year Floor Sample event? Isn’t that a sale?

Each year, our price guarantee runs through December 24th. When FloorSamplecustomers shop at Room & Board, they can feel good about our honest pricing. It’s how we do business. We don’t mark up to mark down and we don’t play the gimmick game to entice customers in. But since we’re still a relatively small company that partners with small vendors, we can quickly make modifications to our assortment. This allows us to make changes to product lines quickly based on sales and customer feedback. These changes result in both selling our floor samples and clearance of these items.

Our primary assortment introduction is done in January of each year so as of December 26th, any items that will be discontinued or will undergo changes for the next year, often will be placed on clearance. Our loyal customers wait patiently for this yearly event and know that on December 26th, our website will have a large number of clearance items. Also, any item leaving the showroom floor will be discounted and tagged for our annual Floor Sample sale.

Customers are often lined up prior to our opening hour on December 26th in anticipation of being able to purchase an item at a discount, but while these pieces are marked down, this sale is strictly for furniture pieces that have been on our showroom floor for the entire year and may have some signs of wear. It’s important for our Design Associates to talk through with customers exactly what it means to purchase a floor sample and all stores are staffed to the maximum for this event to assist customers.

Last year, here in Boston, the Floor Sample event was still a well kept secret, but this year we anticipate that it will be a much larger event and could even become Boston’s new equivalent of the “Running of the Brides.” This was a yearly Filene’s Basement Department store event where all wedding gowns were sold for $100 each. It was a buying frenzy where brides-to-be would queue up and literally run into the store to purchase gowns for an amazing price. Sadly, this ended with the closing of Filene’s Basement but will forever be remembered as a unique event in Boston’s history.

Whether or not our Floor Sample event can rival the “Running of the Brides,” it will certainly be a “must do” event for Room & Board customers as it will be the closest thing to a sale event we’ll ever have. Our Design Associates will be on hand to assist customers with their purchases and to inform them that unfortunately, do not sell wedding gowns.

running of the brides