So, like much of the world, I spent the better part of April sitting in my apartment, splitting my time between going out of my mind, reflecting on my life and how FCNews could actually take this insanity and conceptualize an idea that would benefit our retailer readers who rely on us to help them become more professional and profitable, as well as the manufacturers who support this publication with their advertising dollars.
At the same time, I made a personal decision to stop watching the news. I became incensed at the COVID-19 coverage. Now, I am going to preface the following by stating that I completely understand the severity of this virus. It has directly or indirectly claimed the lives of more than 100,000 Americans. It is highly contagious. However, when you take into account those who have contracted the virus and probably never knew, you’re more looking at a survival rate of well over 99%. But the media lives off ratings, viewers and clicks, and the best way to do that is instill fear in all of us. (Think every hurricane and snowstorm coverage.)
Everything was negative. Every bit of positive news—such as advances on a vac- cine that raised the stock market 900 points—were immediately quashed. People became terrified, the world as we knew it was seemingly coming to an end, and the economy was in the tank. I became anxious, scared, maybe even somewhat depressed. I feared for the future: mine, this publication, this industry, this world. And that is not in my DNA. And then something interesting happened. Ken Ryan sent me an email stating that it was not all doom and gloom out there. He was talking to retailers who were still doing business. Maybe it was Main Street. Maybe it was commercial. Maybe consumers were still walking into stores. Others were getting ready for the reopening of their states and making changes to their showrooms, marketing strategies, etc. I learned this industry was more resilient than I thought.
Call me crazy (most of you already do), but as the No. 1 magazine in this industry, I felt it was our responsibility to take on the negative media and report to this industry what was really going on out there. Our editorial team started writing positive stories about how many flooring retailers were doing OK. We posted them daily on our website and in our bi-weekly print product. All the while, our manufacturer partners never abandoned us.
I made a decision to focus all my energies on spreading the word, so as the states opened up, flooring retailers and manufacturers could have confidence consumers would be coming back sooner rather than later. I decided I would hit the road every couple of weeks and visit as many retailers as I could and shoot videos. I let them talk about how customers are walking in the door, encouraging them to help other retailers with the strategies they are employing to attract consumers. I let them talk about the manufacturer partners that are providing value today and every day.
We’re calling it FCNews’ Retail Recovery Across America. How it works: We’ll post the videos every two or three days on our website starting June 15. I’ll also be visiting retailers throughout the country as states go through their respective reopening phases. (If you have a good story that may benefit your peers, contact me and maybe I’ll visit.) These are not going to be professionally edited videos; we are going for “raw” and “real.”
I tested the idea a few weeks ago by visiting nine retailers in Tennessee and Georgia, which were among the first states to open up. All nine dealers had positive things to say. Customers are coming in. They are shopping fewer stores. Close rates are up because they have serious intent to purchase. There is pent-up demand. People are using their disposable incomes this summer on fixing up their homes as opposed to vacations. All positive.
Please visit fcnews.net regularly, beginning June 18, to watch these videos and read some of the other web exclusive stories. You’ll find us to be the best source for content both in print and for digital exclusives.
Oh, and in case you were wondering if I’m afraid to travel, the answer is no, especially because I have COVID-19 antibodies.