When I sold my two New York City-based paint stores Tremont Paint in October of 2019, the timing had me looking prescient.
Mere months after the ink was dry on my contracts selling my family’s 112-year-old paint stores, New York became Ground Zero for the second time in as many decades. A global pandemic which assaulted my birth city caused two-months of lock downs.
Those with whom I shared the story of my exit from the retail side of the channel often commented on my knack for timing; getting out before the pandemic ruined independent retailing in the United States.
But like Pharaoh’s plague and the Jews, the economic devastation of the Covid pandemic seems to have passed over paint dealers!
Timing is Everything
As I was pushing my last gallons over the counter in a paint store, Chris Martin and his wife Tina were pushing their first!
Putting down the brush after 20-years as a painter, the pair opened Color Maxx in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in August of 2018. Who could blame them for feeling snakebitten when the pandemic hit during their first full-year of operations?
But as we have learned together over the previous 18-months, pandemics make for a great time to be an independent paint dealer!
A single-line Benjamin Moore store, Chris and Tina had the shelves on the sales floor full with premium and super premium products, ith plenty of commercial products in the back!
Like many of the Benjamin Moore dealers I speak with, Chris shared that recent shortages at Sherwin-Williams have given Color Maxx the opportunity to steal business away from the Cleveland based paint giant. With many of those customers interested in professional products Color Maxx stocks Ultra-Spec to make the sale. But Chris and Tina are also explaining to value of premium paints to their new customers; offering Regal and Aura as substitutes for painters more used to Pro-Mar.
And they’re having success doing it!
Exposing S-W painters to premium products is about more than just selling them what you have, it’s about getting them used to using products which save them money not by being cheaper but by saving them time!
Because Sherwin-Williams will not be out of Pro-Mar forever!
In addition to Benjamin Moore, Color Maxx’s design center sells window treatments from Hunter Douglas and wallpaper from Thibaut, Wallquest and York.
The Color Maxx store looks as premium as the brands they sell. With the shelves properly “fronted” and everypeg hook filled, the Color Maxx sales floor looks as good as I always wanted the Tremont sales floor to look!
They say that you can’t drive a black Beemer through Virginia without hitting a dead president! The state, one of four in the US which refers to itself as a commonwealth, has birthed more US presidents (8) than any other. My bed for the night in the small town of Staunton, home to our nation’s 28th chief executive Woodrow Wilson.
I’ll start my day tomorrow at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum, built on the site where Wilson was born. Wilson is known for his role in instituting the Federal Reserve System as well as leading the nation through the first World War. Wilson, the son of a Confederate soldier was also known for his opposition to woman’s suffrage (until its passage became assured) as well as his racism.
I plan on blogging daily this week as I meet dealers along my path. Please forgive the intrusion if the daily emails from me are more than you care to receive. I’ll be back to my normal schedule next week.
Also, Please forgive the occasional typo or syntax error while I write these from the road.