In my four decades in business, I have certainly been aware of trends in design – not that I have always encouraged my clients to follow them. I have usually found that what’s “in” today is “out” tomorrow. The changing way, however, that people shop is of great interest to me and I’m sure many other business owners.
With the widespread use of computers making everyone an “expert” in any field with a click of a mouse, homeowners browse the web before they shop any brick and mortar store. Often when they do (maybe 2 AM) they’re searching for design ideas to find their style, but most of all, the bargains. Yet I find that in the many consults I have been on, people are more confused than ever! I think the old joke about “too much information” might apply. A recent study showed that people who surf the web to gain information believe themselves smarter or more knowledgeable than others, which can elevate a person’s self-esteem, but clearly can be a path to trouble. The tablet comes out and pictures regale me with well designed, poorly designed and just OK designed spaces, and questions that lead to more questions ensue.
What it can do is prepare you for a live visit to shopping experiences of your choice, enabling you to avoid the “don’t waste your time” stores. It can also help you decide if you can actually do a project on your own or if you need some professional help. At the conclusion of an in-home consultation with me, I ask the homeowners to check out the web for illustrations of what we’ve discussed and ways to apply their new found knowledge to their own personal project. Guided by personal professional help, key websites can be most helpful.
During my years of designing, I have become more and more impressed with the taste and intelligence of my clients. (After all, if they weren’t smart, they wouldn’t hire me!) I’ve also been impressed with their honesty. Many tell me they don’t think they have “taste”, but I know it’s because they haven’t been exposed to design in the way designers are. I love to encourage them to browse. Browsing allows folks to look at everything without pressure, and hones their “weeding out” skills. They may not be able to put a room together (that’s my job) but they can definitely react to what they like and don’t like. Browsing is also a learning experience. Piqued interest invites questions (Where did this piece come from? How old? Where would you use it?)
At Uniquely Natalie, my quality consignment shop, we love browsers and enjoy visiting with so many repeat potential customers. Everyone who enters is friendly, chatty and informative! We learn so much from the “educated consumer” and we help them see the value of quality as well as the dollar value of items for their home.
Because of the great folks who’ve entered our doors, we’ve decided to create a Browser’s Club with perks and benefits those who think we’re worthy of a return visit, with no pressure to buy. Maybe the internet has made shopping “cut and dry”, or should I say, a “cut and paste” experience, but there’s nothing like seeing and touching the live product. In our busy world of today, taking time out with a friend or family member to find that special something for your home, can be an adventure.
So shoppers – continue to challenge us to provide the right path to your next purchase – and make it a fun and rewarding experience.