WOFB: How finding a place to belong can build business

Home Column WOFB: How finding a place to belong can build business

By Paula Anselone Twenty-one years ago, my husband, Chuck, and I opened a flooring retail store in Mansfield, Mass. Prior to that, I was home raising my two children, Charlie and Gina, while my husband was a subcontractor installing carpet for a few retailers in our area.

When we opened the store, it was the first time I was involved with selling product and operating a retail showroom—I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.

People knew us from town, and customers would come in asking for my husband. To them, he was the expert in the flooring business, and they did not want to deal with me—I thought it was because they knew him. But I soon realized that flooring was a man’s world. Flooring conventions only confirmed it—this was a man’s world and there were very few women business owners.

When we first began the business, I may not have known about the products, but what I did know was that customer service was the most important key to success. Over the years, I’ve realized that women make great salespeople. I have hired men, but women seem to have the patience and interest for building a rapport, getting things done and generally wanting to please customers. That’s why it perplexed me that there were very few women in the business.

What a different world it was 21 years ago. There were no women’s groups for flooring. There certainly weren’t any resources online, and I didn’t know anyone to call. But then, I met Lisbeth Calandrino at Mohawk University. That was when I realized that there were women who were changing our industry. Lisbeth is a great teacher, motivator and mentor. Lisbeth is the one who invited me to join the Women of the Flooring Business group.

The name says it all. This is a place for women to discuss their ideas and get their questions answered—for women, by women. These are women struggling with the same decisions that I’ve had to make over the years, as well as women who are sharing new ideas, which have been so useful to me.

I am excited about belonging. I love all the women in the group—the veterans of the floor- ing industry and meeting younger women with great ideas.

The group not only makes me feel young again, but it has also become a place where I can share my ideas, be helpful to the other members and even become inspired. I’ve also gotten new ideas for my business that will help us grow in the future.

We eventually opened a second location in Norwood, Mass., and my children are working full time with us. As they develop their place in the business, we can all benefit from the group—get new ideas and stay inspired.

Paula Anselone is the co-owner of Anselone Flooring with her husband, Chuck. The store has two locations, one in Mansfield, Mass., and another in Norwood, Mass.

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