Empire Today opens brick-and-mortar stores

Home News Empire Today opens brick-and-mortar stores

By Ken Ryan

Westbury, N.Y.—Empire Today executives and key vendors took part in grand openings of its Commack, N.Y., and Westbury, N.Y., stores Feb. 5—one week after debuting its Fairfax, Va., store. The three openings marked the first time the 55-year-old at-home retailer opened physical stores.

Keith Weinberger, chief merchandising officer, said Empire Today has been working toward the goal of opening brick-and-mortar stores for two years. Along the way it shopped with customers, talked to them, listened to their needs and finally sought to create a store that was easy to navigate and generally consumer friendly in appearance and layout.

Vendors who attended the opening were impressed. “They did a great job merchandising this store,” said Bill Schollmeyer, CEO of Johnson Hardwood, who attended the Long Island openings. “It is well laid out. They’ve created a nice, warm shopping environment and they have a great brand name going for them. I’m excited for them.”

Larry Pellegrini, Eastern regional manager for Godfrey Hirst USA, was impressed with the organization of the departments. “It is well categorized with great separation between hard and soft surfaces. This is not your typical carpet store. Today’s consumer does not want to see clutter; this is an easy store to shop.”

All three stores are between 5,000 and 5,500 square feet. The flooring installed in the hard surface area of the Westbury store is luxury vinyl plank, while customers in the soft surface section will walk on carpet from Mohawk, Shaw, Beaulieu and Dream Weaver—Engineered Floors’ top brand.

Every aspect of the store was designed with one goal in mind: creating an easier shopping experience for the customer. Within each section, or product “neighborhood,” are information boards that provide specific information on the designated categories. One such board may include, for example, the differences of engineered vs. solid hardwood.

Each product on an Empire show floor contains an all-inclusive price tag; in other words, there are no hidden fees. “We feel it is important to make it simple for the consumer and be transparent,” Weinberger said. “Customers don’t buy flooring often and they get stressed about it. We are trying to take some of that stress away.”

Store fixtures include large swatches measuring 17½ x 23 inches. The idea is to provide a generous sample size, but not too big that a customer can’t take it home. Paul Carter, executive vice president of Empire Today, said the brick-and-mortar stores will offer a wider selection of products than what is available from Empire’s shop-at-home business because the physical locations have more room for samples than what sales representatives can carry in their vehicles.

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