Here Comes THE Son!

When I entered my family’s retail paint business, Tremont Paint in 1988, I immediately began courting the local newspapers in THE Bronx.

Tremont Paint had a fourth generation? Stop the presses!

I guess I loved the attention back then too? Which is funny because I remember the late eighties as my humble years.

I’ll admit to being a bit concerned that maybe they were!

Back then, the neighborhoods of the Bronx each had their own newspapers. In fact the neighborhoods of the Bronx, northern Manhattan and southern Westchester which my vans covered overlapped the territories of more than a dozen local papers.

An attention-starved paint salesman’s dream!

Sometimes, my calls to the editors paid off, in the form of free publicity like the type you see here. Local newspapers like the Riverdale Press needed content to partially fill the pages, with the rest left blank for the sales team to fight over.

At the time the ink was literally “pressed” into the paper on this September 5, 1996 issue of “THE Press” as locals called it, I had just completed what would be the largest of the renovations I undertook as an independent paint dealer. The backroom I was sitting in in that picture had just gotten all new floors set on new footings, new columns and new I-beams.

Plus, a large electrical upgrade.

In the backroom of my father’s Tremont Paint, few things beyond the shakers needed electricity. Dispensers were manual and while they had small motors for agitating the colorant, Billy didn’t see the point! You could turn the canister paddles manually once a day, which I guess struck him as easier than running an extension cord. There were no color computers to plug in and no employees saying “Billy, where can I charge in my iPhone?”

In the back room of my Bill Lipton’s Tremont Paint, there was no POS terminal. If you were back there and needed some information: walk up front and ask him.

Because HE was the POS system!

Here Comes the Son

As the sun set on my father’s tenure at Tremont Paint and rose on mine, an explosion of technology transformed our stores. Automatic dispensers replaced manual machines and a POS system replaced Billy. Color computers replaced our eyeballs and cellphones filled the empty front pocket of my jeans.

A business transformed.

The American rapper Quavo says that, “History repeats itself, so you better pay attention!”

And that’s good advice, because another transformation is coming.

The consumer’s march towards e-commerce did not begin with the Covid-19 outbreak. That fuse was lit long before the virus wreaked its havoc! But independent paint dealers had largely been spared the effects of the consumer’s desire to shop online. “Paint is too heavy” was the thinking. Anyway, people “won’t want to select color from a phone or computer.”

Until they do!

Irrespective of your political thinking on the Covid outbreak, the pandemic HAS changed consumer behavior and so as a retailer, you must adapt! Dealers who don’t adapt risk missing the opportunity to grow their market share or worse, they risk losing large segments of their customer base to those who represent themselves online: the national chains, regional players, the big boxes as well as other independents.

For dealers (and corporate executives) who still say that consumers will not be willing to select a color online, you’re kidding yourself!