By Ken Ryan For most of its first 35 years, the Stainmaster brand was arguably the most recognized brand name in flooring, known for its vivid color, plush texture and most certainly its stain-resistant capabilities. However, in the view of many flooring retailers, Stainmaster no longer rules the way it once did, which is why the Lowe’s acquisition was treated so indifferently.
As SFCs and other retailers with Stainmaster brand displays retrofit their showrooms, many say they look forward to having other fibers fill the void. “As specialty retailers, we have choices and have made some huge inroads with solution-dyed polyester,” said Olga Robertson, president of the FCA Network, who shared her thoughts with fellow FCA retailers. “FCA Network has one proprietary selling system from The Dixie Group that will be reset. Although we don’t have a program with Tuftex PetProtect, many of [our dealers] have either their Classics display or A/T display.”
Phil Koufidakis, president of Baker Bros., with multiple locations in the Phoenix metro area, added, “We feel there will be more opportunity to feature great-looking products from other fiber systems. Stainmaster products became harder to come by over the last several years—it was a struggle to find enough.”
For those who had less invested in Stainmaster, the loss is negligible. One retailer who did not have a large Stainmaster presence said it was years ago when consumers came into his showroom asking for the brand; however, that hasn’t been the case lately as Mohawk and Shaw have successfully promoted their brands.
“I do not anticipate a significant impact as we have often had to sell against Stainmaster from the big box stores by educating our customers it is only a name—not a manufacturer,” said John Bretzloff, president, Barefoot Flooring, Castle Hayne, N.C. “We have found minimal resistance to switching to another comparable product while in our store. Other than some Tuftex and Milliken products, we will not have a great shift in our offerings.”
In that same vein, Tim Short, president of JB Short Carpet One, Southern Pines, N.C., said he doesn’t believe the loss of Stainmaster will have a significant impact on business. “From a more practical standpoint, we will have to change some signage and re-sample or retrofit the products that currently display the Stainmaster logo,” he explained. “I look for the manufacturers to help with replacement or retrofit of the samples.”
Short agrees with other retailers that the Stainmaster brand is not as impactful as it once was. “Our experience is customers don’t really care which brand of stain treatment the product has as long as they know the product has stain protection of some sort,” he stated. “Nowadays, it seems that most shoppers assume that all residential carpets come with stain protection. It’s very easy to sell around Stainmaster if the sales associate can reassure the customer that the product has a protective stain treatment. I honestly don’t see much change coming to the sales floor other than making sure we are familiar with the other brands of stain protection offered by the various manufacturers and brushing up on how to discuss the topic with the customer if (and when) it arises.”
Rick Myers, president of three Myers Flooring locations in Atlanta, Dalton and Nashville, Tenn., has been in business for several decades. That’s long enough to remember when Stainmaster was the most recognizable brand in flooring, supported by DuPont’s multimillion dollar advertising budget. He said he feels the industry is ready for the change. “Today, each new market introduces carpet retailers to countless new introductions of patterns, fiber choices, textures and designs. It is much more exciting today than ever to be in the floor covering industry.”
FCA Network’s Robertson concurred, adding: “I’ve always said, ‘Change creates opportunity as long as we’re willing to adapt.’”
The industry’s leading carpet mills wasted little time conveying to its retail partners that they are more than capable of filling the void left by the Stainmaster brand. Mohawk and its family of brands, for example, will display several products at Surfaces this week that fit the bill, according to Trey Thames, senior vice president of residential sales. “We launched SmartStrand All Pet six years ago, which has a comprehensive stain warranty,” he explained. “We currently have new SmartStrand displays in stock and shipping to customers. This year, we also launched a new collection from Godfrey Hirst featuring high-fashioned styles in both nylon and SmartStrand yarn systems. Our customers can see both of these collections, as well as many other introductions from Mohawk, Pergo and Karastan, at Surfaces.”
Shaw has a comprehensive fiber offering of Endurance High Performance PET, Anso nylon and nylon 6,6. The company reported that the continuity of its fiber supply is not at risk and customers can have confidence that Anderson Tuftex products will not be negatively impacted.
In the coming weeks, Phenix Flooring sales reps will retrofit existing PetProtect displays with a new proprietary brand refresh, focusing on consumers with pets. As well, Phenix said it would continue to support, service and warrant these products and provide a list of features and benefits that rival those currently offered.