19 years and counting . . .

I have been a Room & Board staff member for 19 years and there are many good reasons why that is true. The number one thing that keeps me coming back is the mutual respect we share in the store and amongst all staff members. This gets extended to customers, our vendors and all people we come in contact with in our everyday lives.

There is never any finger pointing when a mistake has been made. We are all personally accountable and make sure we don’t repeat the same problems. We are entrusted to do business in our own unique way, working with customers based on who we are instead of a vision created for us. We are all unique individuals, we enjoy each others differences and respect our diversity. It is a totally enjoyable environment where there are many laughs and good conversation. This extends to our customers whom we enjoy, get to know and help deeply.

We are asked for our perspectives on many levels when it comes to our interactions with customers. We have a book where we record customer requests and they are looked at and taken in to consideration and those suggestions often become part of our collection.

We drive our own careers with Priorities & Measures, a yearly exercise where we identify ways we wish to grow in our jobs. Within the store, we each take on other responsibilities that contribute to the overall function of the store. I personally am involved in training new staff members, ordering and organizing our fabric and leather swatch books and helping with the Design Center.

When I asked newer staff members what stands out to them, the answer I get is how surprised they are to actually get an hour lunch break. In so many jobs, it would be non-existent or they would have to punch out for their half an hour. Furthermore, we have that hour to ourselves and if something comes up, it is taken care of by our peers.

With the advent of profit sharing I believe we will take even more ownership in our job. It has been an amazing experience working for Room & Board. Each day is a pleasure. Thank you!


MCAD/Room & Board Design Competition

Every year we collaborate with the Minneapolis College of Art and design to offer a scholarship to one of their students. This year we are looking for an original lighting design that we could potentially produce and sell at Room and Board. The winner would receive a $3000.00 scholarship prize!

The criteria would be that it must be manufactured domestically, must be environmentally friendly, functional, fit Room & Board’s aesthetic and include dimensions, assembly, materials and pertinent manufacturing instructions. Full scale models are required and our store will exhibit the top five student designs. During the exhibition, our customers can vote on their favorite model.

It’s always fun for us to interact with the students and customers as they look at the entries and vote on their favorite design. Then, on April 20th we will host an awards event in the store with snacks and beverages for the students and their families. Our panel of judges will make their selection and present the award.  I know we all really enjoy this event and get pretty excited about knowing that we are helping to encourage students with their creativity and entrepreneurial instincts.



Training Staff Throughout the Company

At the Edina store we have been very busy training a number of new employees for a few months now. The Minnesota economy is very stable and we have a low unemployment rate and people seem to be comfortably settled in their  jobs. That said, we are fortunate to have added quite a few new Design Associates to our amazing staff. We are a growing company and we have also trained new employees for Shop From Home, Business Interiors and have done shorter training sessions with folks from the Web and IT teams.

I especially love my role as an education facilitator because I get the opportunity to get to know a lot of our new people. It never ceases to amaze me how talented and creative the people are who we hire. Training also makes me take a deeper look at the topics I am training on and I tend to realize how much more there is to learn about what we sell. There are certainly times when our new co-workers have information that escaped me. We continue to learn from each other at all times. Our respectful environment means being open to each others’ special contributions to the whole team. I love being able to convey who we are to our new co-workers.

Businesses Creating a Sense of Community

The Edina Showroom is located in an amazing shopping area that includes The Galleria, Southdale Mall and various businesses all along France Avenue. The Edina City Council has been trying to promote a more community-oriented feeling in this part of the city, especially since there are new apartment and condo complexes all around us. Byerly’s, an upscale grocery store, moved its store closer to the road and set up lovely spaces for relaxing and enjoying outdoor dining.

There are sidewalks now and pedestrian traffic is being encouraged. I have noticed more bicyclists since bike lanes have been created along with skate boarders and roller skaters along the walkways up and down our street.

The businesses around us are sponsoring a stroll and meet event in a couple of weeks to promote the businesses and encourage foot and bike traffic. We’ll be showcasing a balloon demonstration and offering snacks and beverages for the public. We are currently trying to secure a stilts walker to attract attention in our parking lot.

Every store will be offering something enticing to draw neighbors to the event to help us celebrate. There is Centennial Lakes just south of us where there will be a band and water events as well. The whole idea is to create a sense of community and connection.   



Mid-year changes

This year we have quite a few mid-year changes which will mean some physical moves in the showroom. We have already received the Jasper Sofa upholstered in a new fabric and the Delia chair, also in a new fabric. We are expecting 2 more new sofa frames since we have decided to drop the Stella and the Camilla mid-year. We are also constantly moving our room settings to give greater inspiration and interest. These new additions will add a new flair to our collection and our customers will see something fresh.

We also have added some new fabrics to our collection and part of my job is to make sure the hanging samples are placed in the Design Centers. My partner and I order the cuttings that we give to our customers to help them decide what they want to order. We also order the swatch books that are placed throughout the showroom so customers understand what fabrics go with what frames. As a Design Associate this is one of my secondary responsibilities within our store.

With all the mid-year changes our Visual Associate re-writes the floor plan that is changing and often engages a few Design Associates to help her in the process. We are all invested in presenting our showroom in the most beautiful and engaging fashion.


Mystery Solved

I am going to relay a situation that has just been happily resolved. It is an amazing story of how we engage each other to resolve difficult customer situations.

I have customers who spent a great deal of time trying to choose a Chilton Dining table because each one is unique and has its own personality. After much deliberation a very beautiful top was chosen that pleased both people.

Yesterday, it was picked up and taken home 2.5 hours away. As can sometimes happen, it was the wrong top. I spoke to the customer who was very cool and suspected the right top was somewhere to be found. I e-mailed our Customer Support team who alerted our partners at our Central offices and they started the investigation. It looks like one sku was assigned to 2 tops and my customer received the other one. I was just e-mailed photos of the 2 tops and low and behold the correct top was there. Our partners figured out what had happened and were able to unveil the mystery.

I am so appreciative of how we work together to get an issue resolved. I can now call our customer to let them know we have solved the mystery and get them the top they chose. This collaboration is something that happens frequently and I am always filled with gratitude to work for a company that fosters such positive outcomes to some tricky situations.

Learning about Kids

Every week we have an education topic which is determined by what we feel we need to review or acquire deeper information about. This week it has been about our Kids and Baby Furniture and the Health and Safety standards and compliance.

More and more we are getting very specific questions from customers regarding how our products are made and what kind of materials are used and specifically chemical content. Through the years we have received the information from various contacts. Now, we pulled all the material together so that we the customers have access to that information as well.

What we know about Kids furniture is that we follow regulations largely set up in California for Health and Safety. One of our major manufacturers has always followed and exceeded the industry standards. Each product shown on our website gives a lot of information showing our interest in transparency. There is access to more specific answers to customers’ questions. So much of what we do as a company comes directly from customer questions and concerns. We can feel proud to know that we continue to strive for a greener environment in everything we do.