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Retail

Floor Covering Retailers Get Social

Turn to Social Media to Connect with Rug Purchasers during Covid.

RugNews.com Editors
4/2/2020
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SPECIAL REPORT -- For years, floor covering retailers who sell area rugs have bemoaned the fact that potential sales were leaving their showrooms and going online instead. But now that the COVID-19 pandemic has closed most showrooms, a few of these retailers are turning to digital to try and connect with customers -- and possibly make a sale or two, according to RugNews.com's special Covid-19 coverage.

The Rug Gallery in Cincinnati, for example, launched a program through Constant Contact called "Virtual Consultation." In a letter to customers to announce the program recently, owner Sam Presnell wrote: "As a local business, The Rug Gallery is reliant on our store traffic to operate. As such we have decided to offer a 20 percent discount on our products for anyone who utilizes our virtual consultation program. So if you can't go out, you can still plan on making your home as comfortable as possible. We are even offering free delivery on all our products."

Last week, The Rug Gallery met virtually with a client who was looking for the perfect rug for her nursery and provided numerous choices to match. "We've had a few requests and are working them," Presnell said. "We've had a couple of quotes with some that appear serious and we may close. We have generated most of the activity from working with our design clients, and are going to keep pushing this until the state lifts the stay-in-place order."

In Chattanooga, Tennessee, The Rug Rack & Home Décor is currently closed to the public but is nonetheless communicating on social media, according to owner Miriam Thompson. "We introduced a deal of the week on social media trying to generate interest and stay top of mind. We are also on the phone answering a few calls that are coming in."

Thompson said the timing of the coronavirus shutdown is very disappointing since it hit right on its 20th anniversary sale. "We already had three magazine ads in place so there was no canceling those ads."

Two major dealers of rugs -- Salt Lake City-based R.C. Willey Home Furnishings, with 14 locations in four Western states, and Omaha-based Nebraska Furniture Mart, with three locations, are both considered 'essential' businesses, and therefore could remain open. However, out of an abundance of caution, both home furnishings retailers say they have closed their showrooms, albeit remain connected. "Our operations side of the business--including our home office teams, warehouse, and call centers are still open," said David Chambers, director of flooring for Nebraska Furniture Mart. 

An RC Willey spokesman said that effective March 26 the Utah, Idaho and Nevada stores have been open by appointment only while the California stores are closed until further notice. "Flooring managers will be working at the stores on a need-to basis," the spokesman said. "The flooring buyer's office will be on rotating schedules and will work from home two days a week, but can be reached anytime by email or phone."

O'Krent's Abbey Flooring in San Antonio closed its showroom until further notice. "This decision affects us all and we believe the faster we all do our part the faster we emerge from all of this stronger and more unified," said Sam O'Krent, president.

Customers with an open order or who want to place an order can email the store or text O'Krent's, and a customer service agent will respond quickly. O'Krent encouraged others to "see and dream online" at okrentfloors.com.

"We have been in business since 1915 and have come through many challenges," O'Krent said. "Each one has ultimately made us stronger."

Sam Kinnaird's Flooring in Louisville, another strong in-store seller of rugs, is keeping close ties with customers through social media, private mailings and Facebook. However, it does not do online sales, according to Donna Mudd, co-owner.
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