Lights Fantastic – with showrooms in Dallas and Austin – makes it clear that each is the place to go for solid-state lighting.
“There is much more to LED than what consumers see at Home Depot; they need to come to an LED expert to find out how to use it,” says Jim Rutledge of the Lights Fantastic store in Dallas. “LED and the ability to control lighting is where the passion and excitement is in this business. Unless you are on your game and ahead of the curve, you can’t provide that to the consumer. Many architects and designers these days are behind the curve, and the electrical contractors don’t have experience in this [new] area,” he notes. “For example, we had someone walk into our store frustrated because he had spent $140,000 on recessed lights that wouldn’t work. No one knew what was wrong; the contractor had wired it like he always did.”
How does one stay on top of the ever-changing developments? “I work like hell at it,” Rutledge remarks. “That’s why I go to venues like Lightfair – to see how the lighting industry is going to look five years from now.”
Taking note of everything that is available is of paramount importance to Rutledge, who has had customers walk in asking for 1,000 lumens at 3000K. “That doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen. Someone might ask me if anyone makes a 2000K version. And yes, in fact, they do – but you have to know where to get it.” Rutledge’s goal is to make Lights Fantastic that place.
“We do a lot of testing on LED products to see how good they are,” Rutledge says. This way, the sales staff can find the best solution for a customers’ needs (or perhaps even decide to drop a line that didn’t meet up to expectations). “You have to really know the product to work with the customer as to which systems are upgradable and which are not.”
“Consumers are more sophisticated today,” he quips. “I keep telling people that they can walk through this store a few years from now and it will look completely different. As it is, our showrooms are never static. They are always changing.” Lights Fantastic plans to open another showroom north of Dallas.
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