Bigger Is Better for Full-Service Showroom

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When the time came for Crystal Kitchen Center to expand, the key word was location. “We were renting, and in a hard-to-find location,” owner/founder JoLynn Johnson says regarding CKC’s former home. “My goal was a stand-alone building with about 7,500-10,000 square feet, in an easy-to-find location, where we could have a sign.”

The result of the search was a spacious 8,800-sq.-ft. showroom on Winnetka Avenue in Crystal, MN, which makes Crystal Kitchen Center the largest showroom in the upper Midwest, according to Johnson. She spearheaded the design of the new CKC showroom, a family project that involved all of the designers, with emphasis placed on the “flow” of the design. “I wanted a spacious showroom with large aisle space and dramatic lighting,” Johnson says.

To match the design center’s start-to-finish attitude, the firm boasts a full-service staff: Johnson herself is a CMKBD and a CAPS, while the firm also has two CKDs, an AKBD, a project manager who oversees and deals with subcontractors and office staff.

Choice and Convenience

The showroom contains 10 full kitchens, one of which is a working display that customers are encouraged to try. It features seating for 30 with a retractable screen that descends for PowerPoint presentations, making it the perfect place to stage demonstrations, cooking events and seminars. There are also four full bath displays that range from American traditional to contemporary.

So what sets CKC apart from other showrooms? Johnson says it is the “attention to detail in each kitchen or bathroom.” Floor-to-ceiling, everything represented is everything that the firm does, from lighting fixtures and ceiling design, to hardwood, tile or vinyl flooring and everything in between.

According to Johnson, more space means more on display, which means clients can enjoy a one-stop shopping experience. “They can select their entire remodeling project in our showroom without having to drive all over town to see different products,” she notes.

CKC highlights two lines of cabinets, Crystal and Medallion, both in a range of styles and wood species. For countertops, the firm offers a variety of laminates, as well as Corian, Avonite, Silestone, Cambria, Zodiaq, CaesarStone, granite, Spekva and Vivendi, with appliances from Sub-Zero, Wolf, Asko, Bosch, Thermador, Gaggenau, Dacor, Viking and GE. Additionally, all glass and concrete used comes from local suppliers.

Creating Smart Shoppers

Targeting primarily consumers, CKC hosted a series of popular seminars this year and more are planned for 2007. “When [planning our seminars], we try to focus on both design and remodeling,” says Johnson. Seminars this year included “Creating a Professional/Gourmet Kitchen,” which was presented by a chef who fed his audience a meal while discussing what components would comprise the ideal kitchen for a true gourmand. Johnson then held a discussion on the kinds of questions that clients should ask a remodeler when planning their dream kitchen.

Other seminars included “Retreat Spaces,” where bath product door prizes were given out and a guest speaker from Kohler spoke about creating a bathroom worth escaping to.

Johnson takes her marketing efforts outside of the showroom, as well, staging seminars and lectures at local home and garden shows in conjunction with Parade of Homes, the Twin Cities Builders Association and the culinary cooking retail center Kitchen Window in Minneapolis. CKC also participates in the Parade of Homes’ Remodelors Showcase every fall. For its efforts, CKC has been inducted into the Remodeling Big 50 for 2006, an award that recognizes 50 companies across the nation that have set the standard for “professionalism and integrity.” 

Crystal Kitchen Center was formed in 1975, selling only cabinetry to the trade. Now a comprehensive start-to-finish center, CKC not only features 14 kitchen and bath displays, the showroom also showcases a laundry room, entertainment center, wine bar, hutch and outdoor kitchen.

Seminars are also geared to highlight the firm’s ability to do other rooms of the home, including “Entertaining Spaces,” which discussed the potential interplay between a kitchen designed for entertaining and the components directly surrounding it, like family rooms, dining rooms, wet bars, entertainment centers and outdoor entertaining spaces. “In other words,” says Johnson, “every room of the house that could use cabinetry.”

To further aid those considering a major room remodel, CKC’s Web site is loaded with features to aid the prospective client, Johnson says. There is a budget estimator, a kitchen planning questionnaire for clients to fill out and bring to the showroom, and a sheet of remodeling hints to prepare clients for the whole design and remodeling process.