Susan Dickenson -- Home Accents Today, January 30, 2014
Circa Lighting is a retail lighting operation with five locations, originally conceived by founder Gale Singer as a "well-edited lighting showroom where clients could shop in a boutique-like atmosphere."
Gale is the sister of Andy Singer, founder of decorative lighting manufacturer Visual Comfort. In the late 1990s, after 10 years of working for Visual Comfort, she moved to Savannah, Ga. Her industry experience, combined with a desire to simplify and streamline the lighting selection and purchasing process, led to the launch of Circa Lighting's first store, in 1998, in a 375-sq.-ft. space in Savannah's historic district.
Today, in addition to the Savannah location, Circa Lighting operates showrooms in Atlanta, Charleston, Chicago and Houston, with "plans for continued growth in key markets," according to Singer. Circa's boutique personality carries through to its website and social media platforms, where a perfect blending of commentary, color and product attracts and holds the interest of several thousand followers on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and a company blog.
The company's mission - to help customers find the perfect balance of form and function in their lighting décor - is accomplished through a curated offering of quality and designer lighting, lamps and accessories along with individual, specialized attention. Circa also extends that streamlined experience, along with "well-procured offerings," to interior designers, architects and builders.
Shipping within the continental U.S. is free, regardless of box size or weight, with no minimum purchase requirements. The company offers its "best price" 365 days a year, will match any lower retail quote, and has a 30-day return policy.
Elements of Style blogger Erin Gates recently described Circa Lighting as a vendor "we use over and over again in our daily work at EGD (Erin Gates Design) ... Their massive and gorgeous collection of lighting is astounding and a designer favorite the world over."
Circa Lighting offers a curated selection of quality and designer lighting, lamps and accessories. Founder Gale Singer’s concept is to “simplify and streamline” the lighting selection process for the retail customers, interior designers, architects and builders who frequent the company’s locations and website.
Describe how you merchandise: We have featured display areas as well as easy access to product through custom shelving, movable display walls, work tables etc., so clients can really examine the items - without being too overwhelmed - and take things on approval. We offer concierge service, in-store and offsite appointments, and have custom, contract and hospitality capabilities.
|Circa Lighting’s Atlanta showroom, shown here, uses movable walls, custom shelving, work tables
and designer vignettes to maximize space and enhance the buying experience.|
Our website includes bios and in some cases a style overview of our featured designers, which include names like Aerin Lauder, Barbara Barry, Clodagh, David Easton, Alexa Hampton, Thomas O'Brien and Suzanne Kasler. The FAQ section on our site offers tips and advice on such things as selection, sizing and installation of chandeliers, lamps, exterior lighting, sconces and picture lights.
How similar or different are the showrooms? They are in different buildings, in different cities and sizes, but the concept is consistent throughout all of the showrooms.
What is the biggest challenge when it comes to selling lighting? It can be an overwhelming process, so we just try to simplify this by the way we present and edit our showrooms. Circa Lighting remains committed to beautiful design and, above all, a brilliant customer experience. We're always trying to evolve and give our customers great design at a reasonable price.
How do you reach your customer? We advertise nationally in major shelter publications, locally in appropriate publications and have a very active web presence across our social media platforms. Each week, we share a weekly "Top 10 Most Pinned" page based on our Pinterest activity.
Most recently, the Savannah showroom participated in the Design District's Holiday Walk and raffle, and the Chicago showroom hosted a book signing, followed by dinner at a local restaurant, with Thomas O'Brien.
We also participate in and and/or sponsor several show houses nationwide, including the Southern Living Idea House, Traditional Home's Napa Valley Showhouse, the Coastal Living Ultimate Beach House, and House Beautiful Kitchen of the Year. We were also a sponsor of Project Design 2013, in which 26 of America's leading Interior designers teamed up to make over the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island.
Founded: Savannah, Ga., 1998
Locations: Savannah, Atlanta, Charleston, Chicago and Houston
Average square footage per store (approximate): 2,800
Number of employees: 50+
Key vendors: Circa Lighting continues to be the premiere distributer of Visual Comfort products as well as a small collection of other hand-picked manufacturers.
What's hot right now? We're seeing a lot of gilded iron.
How has business been this year compared to last? It's been great.
What are your prospects /outlook for the next 12 months? We will continue to do more of the same - be the ultimate resource for decorative lighting and penetrate our market.