What started as a grassroots forum online in October 2017 for lighting showroom owners, managers, and sales associates to share common challenges, exchange ideas, and brainstorm solutions through a Facebook Group Page under the name Lighting Showroom Coalition (LSC) has now become a legally recognized 501-C(6) non-profit association called the Lighting Showroom Association (LSA).
According to founder and organizer of both entities Lisa Dixon, owner of Pace Lighting in Savannah, Ga., the formation of this group is not to detract from any other existing lighting-centric associations, but to put a more defined emphasis on the needs and challenges of brick-and-mortar independent lighting retailers.
“LSC is an open and respectful forum not intended to take the place of other industry organizations, but simply to supplement and provide an ongoing way to communicate and hopefully, strengthen and improve, our businesses,” Dixon explains.
Within the first six months of 2018, participation in the Lighting Showroom Coalition Facebook Group increased from the low 200s from the initial word-of-mouth casual cocktail party gathering at January Dallas Market 2018 to more than 600 by the June Dallas Market, where a town hall-like meeting was held in the Dallas Market Center’s new SMART Center. That gathering generated so much interest, membership numbers immediately leaped to 800+ by July 1. A third gathering was held during the American Lighting Association’s (ALA) annual Conference in Asheville, N.C. in September, which further boosted membership, which currently stands at over 1,300.
In fact, it was the value of those networking opportunities during industry events such as the annual ALA Conference and the twice-yearly Dallas Market that inspired Dixon to create an online group that could continue those types of helpful peer conversations all year long. The collaborative sharing nature of the Coalition’s Facebook Page led Dixon to develop a separate LSC Fixture & Fan Help Facebook page out of necessity as the opportunity to ask fellow retailers to identify particular models or find parts for discontinued fixtures grew at an incredible rate. Dixon notes that having two pages kept the initial discussion forum easier to follow without disruption.
With LSC membership reaching 1,364 and growing at press time – a number that includes independent sales representatives as well as employees of manufacturers – the need for more formal structure became clear to Dixon, whose background before entering the lighting industry was in association management.
“The Lighting Showroom Association is a showroom-first community,” Dixon remarks. “I’m not doing legislation research or government outreach; the ALA does a great job of handling this aspect of our business and I’m grateful to them for doing so. There are also no current plans to provide any certification programs, as the ALA is a fantastic resource. With LSA, I only want to focus on topics that directly assist the independent lighting showrooms with their day-to-day business operations and empowering the showroom community in the challenges we face on a daily basis.”
As the LSC Facebook Group has swelled in numbers, nominal costs have occurred that Dixon paid for out of pocket. With the formation of a non-profit association, the dues collected will offset those expenses and allow Dixon to create a Web site that offers helpful sections (such as a Resource Center) and other services that cannot be accommodated on a Facebook Page.
Among the benefits of joining the Lighting Showroom Association (the annual dues for a showroom is $250) are access to the immensely popular discussion forum, access to the Fixture Finder, plus the Resource section that provides boilerplate documents for common showroom-specific topics – such as a credit application for builders or job interview questions – that can be customized by your business, as well as more resources and programs to be announced in early 2019.
A Board of Directors for the Lighting Showroom Association has been formed and is comprised of lighting retailers Lisa Dixon, owner of Pace Lighting in Savannah, Ga., and founder of LSC and the LSA; Mark Green, owner of Hill Country Lighting Center in Kerrville, Texas; Kirsten Recce of Black Whale Lighting in Encinitas, Calif., Donovan Turney of Light Ideas, Inc., in Port Charlotte, Fla., and Ace Rosenstein, Publisher of enLIGHTenment Magazine.
The LSA will hold meetings every January and June Lightovation in Dallas with other meetings and events to come for members to network together in person. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.lsalights.org.