The Blizzard of 2016


The weather outside was not fit for man nor beast last week here on the East Coast. In case, you didn’t hear, we had a record snowfall in New York City of 26.8 inches which is the second most snowfall ever recorded in the history of all time since the dawning of the age of man. That’s a lot of snow; like if someone left a Harding in Central Park and took off the back cushions, it would have been completely covered in snow since the Harding has a height of only 26″. Or if you put two Graham cocktails tables on top of each other you would only see 1.2″ inches of Ebony peeking out over the blanket of white. Or you could put a High Headboard Avery in Sunbrella Canvas Pink out there and still see three feet of bright pink, but don’t worry because it’s Sunbrella fabric and it’ll be totes fine. Anyhoo, lots of snow. You get the picture, right?

On Friday, we all began to wonder how Winter Storm Jonas would affect us.

“Will be open?”

“Will we close early?”

“Do I need to go the liquor store?”

We all left work on Friday not sure what was ahead of us. Early Saturday morning, my alarm clock went off and the first thing I did was look out the window to see what had happened as I slept. The wind was whipping snow horizontally across the courtyard and I could see drifts of snow as high as an Allard table. There was no email from work giving me a reprieve so I took a shower and ate breakfast as I wondered what one wears to work during a blizzard. And then my phone alerted me to a text: SNOW DAY. STORE CLOSED. The first thing I did was a little dance of joy, not unlike Snoopy when Charlie Brown serves his supper.

The second thing I did was think the following: Thank goodness I work for a company that puts the safety of their employees over the importance of sales. I bet if I worked at some other retailer, I would have to get to work not knowing how or if I would get home. Thank you, Room & Board, for making that decision in a timely manner and understanding that sometimes being open is not the best decision. It seems like every couple of months, Room & Board does something else to remind me that it’s a mighty fine place to work.

The store was open on Sunday, but I didn’t have to go to work because I was on vacation. My trip to Puerto Rico had been canceled, but I kept my vacation day on the schedule and went sledding in Central Park where I saw no evidence of a Harding sofa, Graham cocktail table or High Headboard Avery.

It ALL looks new and it is!

On December 26 at Room & Board, our 2016 assortment of new products and fabrics shows up on our website and in January it arrives in our stores. During November and December, the team is learning what is coming and what is going so we can best educate our customers. It is impressive the education that Room & Board supplies for us and how as a team we are able to learn a category and share our knowledge with our team members, which translates to being able to easily articulate the information to our customers and make a graceful customer experience.

This year, once again, we have an amazing assortment of new products, old products with new fabric covers, and new stain options and tops for our table/base programs.

Last week our store was transformed overnight from the 2015 assortment to the 2016 assortment. We quite literally left the store on Sunday at 6:00 pm and when we got back in on Monday at 9:00 the store dazzled us with the new looks. The team who works overnight to create this transformation is truly amazing in being able to pull this off in all of our stores in a very short time.

As a Design Associate, we enjoy finally being able to show off and sell our new amazing products. For the customer it means a completely new look inspiration!

Here are a few examples of 2015 room setting vs. 2016. Both beautiful and completely different!









Priorities and Measures

P&MStrenthFinderBookAll companies have their own particular method of reviewing an employee’s performance which is usually done on an annual basis After having worked for a large company for many years, I know that it was usually one focusing on the negative rather than the positive and was often a painful process. Here at Room & Board, reviewing Design Associate performance is done in a very different way.

Rather than focusing on a team member’s accomplishments or lack thereof, Room & Board approaches performance by allowing team members to develop Priorities & Measures that are meaningful and relevant to each individual and how they relate to the overall success of their team, store, market and business. Engaging with our leaders three times a year allows us to create a relationship with our leadership team and allows for open dialogue. In these conversations, we are encouraged to be ready to share our thoughts and insights.

Room & Board believes in identifying our individual strengths so that the team can understand and appreciate that we all are different. Instead of trying to do something better that doesn’t come naturally to us, we are encouraged to do what comes naturally thereby allowing us as a team, to leverage each other in a supportive way. Room & Board expects our performance to be a positive balance of all subjective and objective measures which will thereby allow us to achieve success.

In addition to our individual Priorities & Measure meetings, each showroom team creates store Priorities & Measures to allow us to create goals as whole. Our Central teams of course, also create their own Priorities & Measures in planning sales and expense goals that allow our Finance team to be confident that the company as a whole is achieving its full potential in creating a successful business.

Our own individual Priorities & Measures link to our store and company goals and make the process a deeply meaningful way we can contribute to our success.

‘Twas the Night of the Floor Change


‘Twas the night of the floor change and all through the showroom

Every DA drinks coffee to insure they can go zoom.

The rugs are rolled up and carried out of the store,

And new ones come in and are placed on the floor.

The drivers are moving in new Berkeley beds

While visions of Mackintosh dance in their heads.

Amy in her sneakers and Jason at her side,

Watch over the commotion, all full of pride.

When out on the sidewalk there arose such a clatter,

Amy springs into action to see what’s the matter.

Out to the truck, she flies like a flash;

Runs past a Hudson we now stock in Ash.

The moon on the sofa reflected the shine,

Gives luster to all like a glass of mulled-wine,

When what to their wondering eyes did appear,

Macalester in leather! “Oh my goodness, it’s here!”

One hundred inches, its leather: top grain!

In Lagoon Cognac, its beauty: insane!

More tufting than Reese and the Wells combined,

The comfort and beauty is all so refined.

“It’s gorgeous! I love it! I want it! I need it!”

“It’s perfect! I crave it!” said all who had seen it.

To floor number two, the sofa is carried

And placed on an Arden, perfectly married.

Next to a Louis Chair, across from a Nichols;

For Lynn, who does visuals, nothing’s a pickle.

The drivers bring in more furniture too!

It’s not even midnight, there’s so much to do.

There are lamps to be hung, pillows to fluff,

Shelves to wipe down; floor change is tough.

Amy and Jason look over their list

Checking to make sure nothing is missed.

The beds all need ironing, the floor must be swept,

If only they knew where the vacuum was kept.

The next several hours fly by in a hurry;

With so much to do they still do not worry.

The lamps how they twinkle! The fabrics, how merry!

The Orson is gone and the Grove is in cherry.

The Anson in Tamm, the color of spice,

Embraces mid-century and looks oh so nice.

The Andre in Total and reversible chaise

Sits proudly as Amy walks by in a daze.

The staff is now tired, their energy sagging,

In two more short hours the tag team starts tagging.

The drivers are done and thank God they’re so burley

And Brenda and Lauren will get to work early.

Each piece will be tagged with the greatest of care

From the new Julian table to the standard Quinn chair.

The show room now sparkles, it shines and it gleams!

The collection is stunning; the stuff of our dreams.

Amy and Jason collapse on the York,

He hands her champagne and says, Pop the cork!”

The night is not easy; it takes a great plan.

The result is all worth it from whence it began.

“Everything’s perfect,” she says. “It’s just right!”

“Happy floor change to all and to all a good night!”

Floor Change: Before and After

Showroom Before

Showroom After

The last few months have been fairly hectic between planning and executing our floor change for 2016, but all of our hard work has paid off! Above is a picture I took on Sunday night in the middle of all the movement followed by a snap today from approximately the same spot.

There are always ways to find space for improvement, but I can already see how our Visual Associate, Inventory Associate and myself have worked to make this floor change better than the previous year. And I’ve been so happy at the excitement our team here has about the new product and how all of the room settings landed. (I’ll admit that I’m biased, but I honestly think that this is the best our showroom has looked in the past 3+ years since our Seattle store opened.) And we couldn’t do it without each other!

Room & Board 2016 Bracket


Ben photo credit: ABC

In light of the recent premiere of the new season of one of my all time favorite shows, The Bachelor (basic, I know), I would like to compare Room & Board’s new 2016 Assortment to the new squad of America’s 28 most eligible women. #FutureMrs.Higgins Who will find love with the handsome, Ben H. and who will be sent home humiliated on public television?! #TGIM This year, I am doing this right. Yes, I have not only joined the official, “Bachelor Bracket,” but I am in fact the administrator of the league. Twenty of my closest friends makeup my “2016 Boston Bachelor Bracket.” Similar to fantasy football or basketball, I challenged myself to select each of the favored women who will have the honor of moving on to the next ceremony symbolized by receiving a red rose. My goal is to predict who will be the one, future Mrs. Ben Higgins, and who will the 27 others left with broken hearts… After serious podcast listening, gossiping and thorough research, I have selected “JoJo” as the winner/ future Mrs. Higgins. #GoJoJo #sojelly

Just like The Bachelor Bracket, Room & Board’s 2016 new product assortment may fall or rise to the top by making it to next year’s assortment. Sometimes we give product a rose, one last chance to sell itself by introducing a second cover or revamping the cushion construction. Other times, we just simply drop the item if it’s not working hard for us. We send it home in a limo without even the opportunity for an exit interview to redeem itself. Good luck on R&B Paradise aka Clearance…My top 2 picks in the R&B 2016 Bracket would be Mr. Nichols and Miss Bailey. Both are fun and sexy, yet sophisticated. Bailey is a sure show stopper with her two beautiful new stained coats, Sand or Bark and ready for anything with her classic walnut trench. Take her to a bougie dinner or simply Netflix and chill. Nichols is a more classic fellow with a mid-century look, yet edgy with his enlarged hounds’ tooth outerwear (Tessell #Love). Bring him to a Ted Talk or enjoy bottomless mimosas together at Sunday brunch. You are certainly going to have a good time with either one. The question remains “Who do you see yourself with in the future? The perfect now or the perfect later?” Stakes are high and love is on the line. Who will receive the final rose?! #R&Bbracket16

Winter is Here!

In Chicago we have summer for about 2 months a year (not nearly long enough for me!) and winter is showing its signs again. Well it is January so I guess that is to be expected. Some of our other stores, Denver, Boston, Minneapolis, New York will relate to this, while our more fortunate store locations, California and Atlanta, might not understand.

The first picture is when some of us (me included) were simply in denial and not wearing winter coats yet even though it was cold. The second photo is finally facing the reality. We have boots and coats and gloves and hats. It is snowing and this morning was 14 degrees. Winter is HERE!

Coats1 Coats2

You might ask “What are you doing living in Chicago then?” Hmmm… Well besides my family and friends being here, I enjoy my work at Room & Board and I love the Skokie team!

The good news for our customers is that we will deliver to our warm weather customers (Florida, Texas, Arizona, and anywhere where we don’t have a store) for $129.00. It is white glove, in-home delivery. I don’t know another furniture company that offers that. It shows how much our company appreciates our customers!

Anyone else wonder why they are living in cold weather?