There’s no doubt Main Street commercial was one of the hardest hit segments in the flooring industry during the height of COVID-19, with thousands of small businesses closing their doors, some never to return. However, just as Americans have a resolve to fight through adversity, so, too, did Main Street business entrepreneurs.
“The pandemic took an incalculable toll on small businesses in America, but it does seem that we have pivoted,” said Kimberly Hill, director of marketing and creative design for Novalis. Hill noted that Americans applied to start over 5 million new businesses in 2021, 20% higher than any other year on record. “This strong recovery is likely due, at least in part, to government recovery programs. Over $450 billion in emergency relief has been given to small businesses to reopen doors and stimulate growth.”
Robb Myer, vice president of business, Aladdin Commercial, a Mohawk brand, said Main Street went through the same “gyrations” as residential retail, with momentum building pre- COVID-19, followed by a 60-day “hiccup” and now flourishing again on the back side of the pandemic. “All product segments are growing, even broadloom, which has seen strong single-digit growth,” Myer stated. “With mills getting out of olefin, there was a shift to solution-dyed PET that gave the Main Street market a lift. It was an eye-opener for the industry to learn that perfect tile doesn’t have to be SD nylon.”
Just as they do at home, Main Street customers desire variety of design, performance, ease of maintenance and budget options when choosing flooring for their businesses. According to Blakley Satterfield, product manager, residential resilient at Mannington, flooring options that offer performance for businesses such as restaurants, commercial kitchens or medical offices are no longer limited by their design choices. “These customers have the option of choosing high-performance and high-design LVT for their eateries or waiting rooms, lower- cost installation and maintenance products such as sheet vinyl where tile may have previously been among the limited options for wet spaces and slip-resistant, high-impact rubber tile for commercial kitchens and fitness centers.”
Observers say rigid core flooring continues to dominate floor space within Main Street applications on the strength of its style, ease of installation and durability—all of which makes it ideal for small businesses.
Carpet tile is the second fastest growing segment, with sales up about 15% year-over- year. “The flexibility and modularity of carpet tile and LVT/rigid core make them winning choices in Main Street environments,” said Quentin Quathamer, director of Main Street Commercial Shaw. “Both offer easy installation, simple care and maintenance and ease of replacement— features that are especially beneficial given current labor/installer shortages.”
Flooring executives say there is potential to expand the use of various LVT constructions in Main Street applications, especially within SPC/rigid.
With Main Street healthy again, suppliers are filling the product pipeline in earnest with a range of offerings.
Some examples follow:
Halong Bay (in 6- and 12-mil formats) and Old Quarter (12- and 20-mil) have bolstered the Aladdin franchise with high-end LVT looks for Main Street. Halong Bay, a rigid composite core LVT, features two styles with 16 visuals. The organic, natural wood grain and stone looks create a warm and comforting environment for any desired space. Halong Bay was designed to coordinate with other Aladdin products to enable continuity in any desired space.
“The launch of this product is exciting for all of us,” Myer said. “Halong Bay brings a revitalized look to every room and was designed to bring life and light for any space it is used in, while never compromising on quality.”
In addition, Aladdin will be launching a commercial wood product in the next 100-plus days featuring a veneered hardwood in a commercial setting. “We’re excited to take the brand to that next level,” Myer added.
Foss Floors has witnessed strong growth in its premium self-stick carpet tiles and planks. “We see tremendous growth in soft flooring for outdoor applications in some commercial channels such as restaurants,” said Sam Ruble, vice president of sales. “Our carpet tiles eliminate slip/fall hazards, and the business owner can literally continue the indoor flooring design outdoors.”
In addition, Foss Floors has expanded its offering to include planks as well as squares. Grizzly Tiles is a heavy-duty product suitable for vestibules and walk-off areas. All Foss products include a self-stick adhesive and are constructed of PET from post-consumer drinking bottles.
In 2022, Mannington will be launching several new products in its City Line LVT and Towne Centre sheet vinyl line featuring Microban. City Line will grow with two new concrete and two new limestone tile visuals in a 12 x 24 format. Towne Centre will feature two new patterns and four new colors with its new Hexx and Twill products now offered in a heavy commercial sheet vinyl construction. Hexx is a hexagon tile visual with hand-painted grout lines and Twill is a 3 x 18 weathered oak herringbone visual. “These products leverage design opportunities in the Main Street market that we were previously missing in our portfolio,” Satterfield stated.
The NovaFloor brand offers products for Main Street with impeccable style as well as extreme durability throughout its portfolio. Case in point is its Designer Series, which was created with business owners, interior designers and architects in mind. The collection aims to bring beauty, sustainability and functionality to commercial spaces via planks and tiles available in glue-down, loose lay and rigid core formats. “It is imperative for the RSA to communicate that any of our collections can be used in light-commercial applications,” Hill said.
In the last two years, Pentz—Engineered Floors’ Main Street brand—has put an enhanced focus on the Main Street segment with more than 20 new introductions to address the changing needs of its dealer base and the end user. Pentz is adding multiple colorways and pattern options to drive style and design at various price points to round out its product offering in modular tile and broadloom. Most of the 2022 introductions feature Apex solu- tion-dyed polyester on Pentz’s Nexus modular backing system.
Philadelphia Commercial’s Phase 2 products offer a more refined, elegant style. “We’re most excited about our new carpet tiles featuring ColorPoint technology,” said Quentin Quathamer, director of Main Street Commercial. “The collection, Redefined Luxury, features three premium, yet attainable styles—Interfuse, Interlace and Intermingle—that offer personalization capabilities in addition to precision tufting and hi-def clarity. The Eco/Eco construction (Eco Solution Q Nylon atop EcoWorx backing) of these 18 x 36 carpet tiles offer leading performance and unique visual capabilities, making them the perfect choice for all market segments.”
Philadelphia Commercial’s Indwell resilient collection features 8-, 12- and 20-mil constructions and combines the style of hardwood with the innovative durability of LVT.