CUP O’ JOE – Spring

Cup o’ Joe: Important Changes That Will Help Chart KLAFFS Future Course

By Joe Passero, Chairman of KLAFFS

Evolving Toward 100 Years in Business

This year KLAFFS is 97 years old. Over almost a century we’ve navigated many changes and always embraced change as opportunity. We’ve done what it takes to thrive in order to continue serving our customers, our employees and our communities and we keep doing so. We want to be among the elite group of U.S. companies that get to 100 years old — and beyond. Only 52 businesses in the entire country celebrated the century milestone in 2017.

KLAFFS South Norwalk location in 1950.

Recently, we made the difficult decision to discontinue our Danbury location as a retail showroom. We closed the showroom on March 31st in order to prepare for a store-wide clearance sale in the near future. We’re exploring the possibility of re-opening Danbury as our permanent clearance center after the sale. Our flagship Norwalk showroom and Scarsdale showroom are in full operation and undergoing a number of wonderful improvements, which I’ll describe later in this post.

Two factors made this decision particularly hard. First was our concern for our Danbury employees. Fortunately, more than half will be relocating to one of our other showrooms and staying with us.

The second factor was the key role that Danbury has played in the history of KLAFFS. Not long after my grandparents Joseph and Mary Klaff founded the business as South Norwalk Plumbing Supply in 1921, Mary’s brother, my great uncle Sam Grogins, founded Nutmeg Plumbing Supply in Danbury. Eventually the two businesses merged, added lighting and other products and evolved into today’s home décor company. Danbury holds a nostalgic place in our hearts.

Joseph and Mary Klaff.

So, why did we make this decision? Practically everyone is aware that the retail industry is in flux. As retail evolves in the digital age, both online and traditional retailers are seeking the correct balance between web presence, ecommerce and bricks-and-mortar experience. Consider Amazon buying Whole Foods. And consider that Toys R Us is closing its stores.

KLAFFS has determined to be among those retailers who find that dynamic balance. Therefore, we will move forward with two showroom locations in order to shift greater emphasis to building our online business.

KLAFFS South Norwalk location in 1970.

To date, we’ve built KLAFFStyle, our online magazine where we engage with and support consumers, designers, builders, architects and our world-class brands. We are truly proud of the interesting and informative articles and other content about Home, Life, Style on KLAFFStyle. We haven’t found anything to rival it – even among national retailers. If you’re reading this, you know what I’m talking about. Please tell your friends to visit soon.

Although we still believe the best way to buy lighting, kitchen, bath, and decorative hardware products is to come into a showroom to see, touch and try – and speak with an expert to be sure you’re making the best selection — we recognize there are numbers of products that can be conveniently purchased online. We’re working on some exciting ecommerce ideas that we’ll be rolling out – hopefully later this year.

KLAFFS South Norwalk location in 1990.

We’re also working with our brands to make the in-store experience exciting, efficient and worth the trip. For example, in our Norwalk showroom finishing touches are being made to the very first-of-its-kind, FEISS Lighting Show House featuring exclusive ‘showroom only’ products not available online. Recently we also opened a stunning Schonbek lighting gallery in the store.

In Scarsdale, House of Rohl just completed a new gallery to showcase its trend-setting bath selections and Visual Comfort’s brilliant new Scarsdale lighting gallery is garnering a lot of enthusiasm among customers. And this list will continue to grow as we work to provide a more curated experience in our showrooms.

We have many other exciting developments in the works and will keep you informed as they happen. As always, we invite your input and feedback.

 

Best wishes,

Joe

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