The store displays lighting of different price points in the same vignette in order to offer something for everyone.
TUPELO, Miss. – As one of Home Accents Today’s Retail Stars for 2022, J. Britt Lighting in Tupelo, Miss., is working hard to illuminate the homes of its customers.
The 10,000 square-foot store is organized by types of lighting paired with coordinating interior items and accessories. The lighting sections include crystal, modern, fan and outdoor. The store is family owned and operated, which gives it a hometown feel.
“I made my first lamp when I was in third grade,” said store owner Britt Caldwell. “Dad had an antiques store and would make lamps out of all sorts of things. I have a background in antiques. But the world decided that antiques were not as important. So we transitioned 17 years ago from J.Britt Antiques to J.Britt Lighting in 2005. It turned out to be a phenomenal move.”
Caldwell said he believes trends in lighting are regional. For example, he said customers in the South prefer traditional or transitional over modern.
“We have two college towns from Ole Miss and Mississippi State located within an hour of our store and they tend to be more progressive in their design esthetic than Tupelo,” he said. “We try really hard to be all things to all people. For example, if they say they love modern but they really mean transitional, we can offer them pieces with cleaner lines and mixed metals.”
Local architects work to blend the modern into the existing southern architectural design. One place that you can really make a safe leap, according to Caldwell, is with lighting. He said adding modern lighting to the laundry room and master closets can really freshen up a home.
“When it comes to demand, it’s slowed down a hair, but we still have a very robust real estate market,” Caldwell added. “We have great real estate values along with low inventory and high demand. Locally, builders are putting up homes as fast as they can get the windows. We’re hoping the south lags behind the rest of the country and that strong demand continues for a while.”
The ongoing supply chain issues haven’t affected the lighting industry as much as others in home furnishings. “For example, if a customer wants a black ceiling fan, we can usually get them one.”
But Caldwell said the issues come when the customers want a specific black ceiling fan that needs to be special ordered, which can take longer.
When it comes to merchandising, Caldwell said they are not a typical lighting showroom that displays lighting in families. Instead, it may place a Visual Comfort piece that’s expensive alongside a less expensive version of that piece in the same vignette.
“One of the cool things we do is custom lighting which takes me back to my antique days,” he said. “We take reclaimed items and turn them into light fixtures. We also participate in art shows and display those as mixed media art.”
Caldwell said when it comes to the showroom, less is more. They tend to move out the non-selling pieces pretty quickly, adding that it’s a fine line since the showroom can get cluttered in a hurry.
Lighting has been somewhat insulated from internet sales, according to Caldwell. It offers updated pricing for customers and will meet or beat the price of a similar product on the internet.
“The warranty is with us, not with some mail order company, and we offer warranties on LED light bulbs. We are grateful to the industry for protecting us as store owners,” he said. “We think our store is right-sized, not too big or too small.”
Caldwell said his store also offers free in-home consultation. The consultants know the client’s room size and can accurately which size fixtures the room needs.
“It pays to be able to offer that type of expertise,” Caldwell said. “We often provide answers to the questions that customers didn’t know to ask.”