“Small businesses are the masters of innovative ideas and have always been resourceful at finding quick and meaningful solutions to difficult problems,” says Tile by Design’s Joe Renda. It’s no wonder, then, that local North Shore home design stores have adapted and adjusted to this new normal, bringing their loyal clients better service than ever.
Founded in 2005 by entrepreneur Lucy Dearborn, lucía lighting & design continues to promise its clients the best customer service out there, even remotely. They’ve been setting up client meetings on Zoom, which has worked, in some ways, says Dearborn, “for the better. Time is more structured and scheduled, which means that the client is getting 100 percent of our attention and we can be more efficient with our time.” You can find their inventory of handcrafted and locally made lighting, furniture, and home décor online, available for curbside pickup. Dearborn says that she’s grateful for her talented team members and loyal clients and is learning to be agile in business and appreciative of the small things. “Our team works hard to maintain a close relationship with clients, because they’re like family to us,” says Dearborn. “We want to hug them and spend quality time with them, even if that means a few minutes talking about their life while we load their car.” lucialighting.com
In Home Design Center
Although they had to close temporarily, the staff at In Home Design Center have been working nonstop. Lately, they’ve been completing two big projects both for doctors, “safely setting up little vignettes in their homes while they’re at work,” says owner Anna Hardy. They’re also putting over 3,500 of their one-of-a-kind products on Chairish.com, an online marketplace for unique, luxury home furnishings and art.
Hardy says she’s been doing a lot more buying locally and has found some new pieces she might not have found otherwise. “I started my business in 2010, in a recession, and I’ve had to keep changing,” says Hardy. “So the lesson is that you always have to adapt.” They’re also starting a “Design in a Box” service, sending clients a box full of samples, fabrics, and paint chips, so clients can have the best hands-on design experience while still staying safe. inhomedesigncenter.com
Savoir Faire Home
Savoir Faire Home in Andover has been working “full speed ahead” these past months, going so far as to FaceTime customers to help them pick the perfect item for curbside pickup. Since they don’t have an e-commerce site, they’ve been selling through Instagram and Facebook. “For the consumer, it’s not touch and feel before you buy,” says owner Lisa Duffy.
The interior design side of the business, currently readying five brand-new homes for move-in, has been operating mostly through Zoom. “We’ve realized how loyal our customers are,” says Duffy, “and that they were sad not having us open for them to come browse, because that’s a big part of the experience at Savoir Faire Home—shopping with all your senses.” She is happy to have reopened, with safety measures like masks, hand sanitizer, and no signed receipts. savoirfairehome.com
Tile by Design
The wholesale tile retailer’s showroom is currently open by appointment, with sneeze guards, hand sanitizer dispensers, and separate workstations making the space as safe as possible. They even have extra masks if a client forgets theirs. They also recognize that venturing out and shopping right now can be intimidating and stressful, says owner Joe Renda, so they’re embracing video conferencing platforms, allowing them to digitally walk clients through the tile-buying process without interacting in person.
“The [Pantone] Color of the Year is blue, which represents intimacy,” says Renda. “How ironic and beautifully perfect is that for embodying 2020?” He says that they’re also realizing some of their future business plan a bit ahead of schedule, like a video library from showcasing new items and a website makeover. tile-by-design.com
Designer Bath & Salem Plumbing Supply
A family-run business since 1945, Designer Bath is New England’s oldest kitchen and bath accessory provider, and they aim now more than ever to be the most trusted. Since March 15, they’ve accommodated virtual meetings through Zoom, Live Chat on their website, and virtual showroom tours. “We made a commitment to be as accessible as possible to our customers,” says account manager Beezee Honan, “Which complements our focus on providing exceptional service.”
Currently, their showrooms in Beverly and Watertown are open for appointments only, and no safety precaution has gone overlooked—mask requirements, sanitizer stations, and plexiglass dividers. They’ve implemented a “museum policy:” no touching the displays, and they ask clients to bring their own pens and tape measures. But, of course, the safest visit is a virtual visit. “We’ve been working hard to utilize technology,” says Honan. “There were so many on-line capabilities we had been researching for the past year or so. The pandemic mobilized us.” And their commitment to wellness goes beyond the showroom—they’ve even partnered with local catering companies to bring hot meals to ICUs at area hospitals. designerbath.com
Mak & Co.
The home furnishings store, situated in a beautiful old mill building in Andover, continues to offer unique upholstery and leather goods, jewelry, candles, and custom décor, with an emphasis on the locally made. They’ve been busy selling their products through social media, and are working on an online shopping platform, expected to launch by the end of June. Their retail store has opened up following state-issued guidelines. But even with a safe shopping experience up and running, you can still order products for curbside pickup or delivery. “For us, launching our new website was a goal of ours and COVID has now pushed us to make that a reality,” says owner Lynn Makiej. makandcoandover.com
Since 1909, Zimman’s has been providing the North Shore with fabrics and design services with an emphasis on refined tastes and good value. They’ve recently launched their online “Z Shop” where you can find some stunning printed fabrics for mask-making, upholstery, or furnishings. You can pick up your products curbside for free, or get them delivered right to your door for a$10 delivery fee.They’ve also introduced concierge services, available by appointment only—you’ll get the whole store to yourself while you pick out the perfect window treatments, furnishings, and more. zimmans.com