50 Shades of Grey


Room & Board is a grey company. This can mean one of two things: that every other fabric is a varying shade of grey whether it be called cement, charcoal, aluminum, gunmetal, granite, pewter or slate. Or that a lot of our situations do not have a definitive black and white answer. This is a great thing for both customers and for those of us who work here. For customers, it means that almost any problem can be solved based on the needs of their particular situation. There is no textbook formula that can be applied to every issue and Room & Board’s grey policy is a great thing that many retailers don’t offer. For those of us who work here, that same policy gives us a sense of autonomy to make our own decisions and know that those choices will be backed up. It is this grey policy that I think makes Room & Board so unique.

When we problem solve, we have to take into consideration all aspects of the situation and try to determine what is going to be the best possible way to make our customer happy while remembering to keep the best interest of the company at heart. While we never want our customers to be stuck with something they don’t love like an 86″ Orson in Vance Blossom because the pink doesn’t pop like they thought it would, we can’t simply take it back without asking for a 30% restocking fee. But then what if the dye lot of the sofa is completely different than the swatch they had been given? Or what if the sofa production took twice as long as expected and then they realized they didn’t like it? Should those things be taken into consideration when solving the problem? Yes, they should and that is what makes Room & Board “grey.”

We want to make our customers happy and very often we will bend over backwards to do so. Being grey makes it easier to do that. Every once in a while though, there is a black and white answer to a problem. For instance, last week, someone called to see if they could return their Encore sofa that they have had for a year and they had gotten a big Vaseline stain on it. In that case, there was no grey. No. Just no.