Space Increase Boosts Showroom's Product Offering

Space Increase Boosts Showroom's Product Offering

By Anita Shaw

A Home Depot Company, Apex Supply which is based in Atlanta and operates nine showrooms throughout the Southeast U.S. has had a showroom in operation in Nashville since 1995. However, the firm believed it could better service its customers architects, designers, builders, homeowners and plumbing contractors with more space featuring a wider variety of products.

"We were in a 40,000-sq.-ft. facility that featured a 2,500-sq.-ft. showroom," reports Andy Schor, director of showrooms for Apex. He notes that while the new location on Polk Avenue is similar to the old in that it has the wholesale supply portion of the business attached, "the new location is 110,000 sq. ft., and features a 9,000-sq.-ft. showroom." This expanded space allows the company to display not only its previous kitchen, bath and appliance lines, but also add extensive lighting and decorative hardware to the mix.

Approximately 150 architects, designers, builders and plumbing contractors attended the showroom's July 17 grand opening, which featured well-known Chef Freddy Brooker of Trace restaurant in Nashville. Schor was on hand for the event, as was Virginia Cannon, showroom supervisor, and several manufacturers' representatives.

The new showroom, which Schor designed, makes use of a very wide, open space. "It's got a studio-type of blacked out ceiling, with exposed ducts and grid work. Everything is exposed, but it's all blacked out," he reports. The showroom also features a suspended track lighting grid that drops throughout the entire space, Schor adds.

"Most of the colors in the showroom are very neutral black and white with a lot of natural colors, such as limestone tile on the floor," he continues. Even carpeted areas provide a neutral backdrop in a dark beige tone. "We use a lot of maples natural maple-type coloring," he remarks.

Included in the 9,200 sq. ft. space is a Kohler Premier Showroom, which encompasses about 2,000 sq. ft. and features vignettes. Only two other vignettes are featured in the showroom, with the rest of the products primarily broken down by type, with each grouped separately.

"We really segregate the products by their own categories, so all of the lavatories, for example, are in one distinct area," reports Schor. He notes that, in a typical showroom that features a lot of separate vignettes, customers have to walk from area to area to look at products. "You're making people run all over the place instead of keeping their choices simple and in front of them," he observes. "I think [our system] helps people through the selection process, because they can go through the showroom a lot easier."

The appliance showroom currently features units from KitchenAid, Fisher & Paykel, Viking, Miele and Dacor. A working kitchen in the appliance area includes Viking, Miele and Dacor working products.

Working products are important to the Apex Supply showroom, and are featured throughout. In addition to the appliances, Schor notes that the site includes five working whirlpools, six working toilets and one working bidet. "We also have a working shower that features 16 different showerheads, including ceiling heads, and a working steam unit," he reports.

Apex Supply offers a wide range of brands in this area, including offerings from Herbeau, Hansgrohe, Duravit, Bates and Bates, Bains Ultra, The Windsor Collection, Cifial, Sigma Designer Faucetry, KWC Faucets.

"We are different from a typical wholesale showroom in that we target very affluent people," stresses Schor. "The plumbing products that we carry are much more like an independent versus a plumbing wholesaler." The showroom's specialty lines include a selection from Ultra Bath, Dornbracht, Phylrich, Robern, Callista, Hastings and Rohl.

Lighting is brand new to the showroom, and is showcased in its own area. "Since Home Depot owns Georgia Lighting, it was very simple for us to make a transition into that market," comments Schor. In addition to World Imports, a Georgia Lighting line, the showroom also showcases lighting products from Hunter Fans and Classic Lighting, among others.

Decorative hardware is also a new addition, and includes offerings from Heritage Hardware, LB Brass, Cifial and Voga. Though the showroom doesn't showcase cabinetry, it does carry higher-end furniture-type pieces such as those from Vanity Flair.

"This brings all of the finished goods to the table, so that a builder or a designer can come in and get a great area to select all of the different products with the exception of cabinetry and flooring to trim out a house," remarks Schor.

The showroom's staff does not include any full-time designers, because Apex Supply wants to encourage designers to shop there. "We're not looking to compete with designers or architects or remodelers," stresses Schor.

The Nashville site is currently working on an outdoor kitchen, which will have a working outdoor barbecue and outdoor kitchen functions. "We have a picnic area outside of the showroom, and we will be able to do events outside," reports Schor.
Schor notes that the showroom has several events scheduled in the upcoming year to help promote the showroom. In addition, the showroom is currently working on an arrangement with a local television morning show to come into the showroom to film a celebrity chef preparing a dish or two. "They'll be filming it live from the showroom," explains Schor. "We're looking for that to become a weekly type of thing."

Other things in the planning stages include chamber of commerce events, as well as association meetings.