Volume 47, Issue 1 - January 2012

feature

Showers That Shine
These Showroom Displays Help Customers Sort through Myriad of Options
by Megan Headley

As shower door manufacturers continue to produce innovative new options, retailers are tasked with creating showroom displays that help customers see what is possible, while narrowing down the many choices. Here five USGlass readers share how they use outstanding showroom displays to bring in customers.

Carmel Glass & Mirror in Indianapolis aims to highlight the many different features of building a shower enclosure with this Agalite brand enclosure. This heavy glass unit features Porta oil-rubbed bronze hardware, shows an in-panel steam vent and the various types of support bars available. “This display is prominently positioned in our showroom near the front counter and customers are drawn to the S-curve door shape and the textured bubble glass,” explains Jessica Bricking, controller. “Customers can come in our showroom to touch and operate various enclosures and expand their thoughts of just a single operating glass door. Our displays allow us a much more effective sales tool and help us to prove our motto: ‘If you can dream it … We can do it.’”

Providing potential shower door customers with a hands-on experience is all part of making the sale for South Country Glass Ltd. in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. The company’s display, pictured here, features C.R. Laurence products: a Hydroslide sliding door, a single hinged door with tilting transom and a hinged door with two sidelites and 90-degree glass corners. “The display shows off a few types of handles a towel bar header material and a few different finishes,” says the company’s Tim Leis. “The display also demonstrates how the all-glass shower doors are installed using U-channel on tile. The display is effective because it has a relatively small footprint, is portable and allows customers to have a hands-on experience.”

Justin Eimers of Glass Doctor of Sioux Falls, S.D., allows customers the full experience of having the dream shower enclosure installed in their homes. “My customers seem to really appreciate that our showroom features life-size custom showers instead of mock showers on a wall,” Eimers finds. “Customers can touch the displays, stand in them, see how the door swings and see the different colors and kinds of hardware. After hearing what the customer is looking for, I can pretty much always use one of the showers in the showroom as an example. With actual showers, customers can see the quality of our work and know what to expect when they hire Glass Doctor.”

A distinct shower door display in a glass shop can catch the eyes of customers who don’t yet know they want a glass shower enclosure. “I have found that my customers are drawn to this display even when they are not here for a shower enclosure,” says Mark Weinholtz of Twin City Glass Corp. in North Tonawanda, N.Y. “The top roller system seems to fascinate people. All of our salespeople also feel that the unique style of this door, installed on the black marble and glass tile accents, is the first thing people notice as they enter our showroom.” Weinholtz adds, “We feel that by showing a full-size operating enclosure on real tile helps our customers envision what it will look like in their house.”

With its recent move to a new facility, Quality Glass & Mirror Inc. in Omaha, Neb., designed its showroom to display a variety of shower enclosures, accentuating the endless glass choices, hardware styles and finishes. “When a customer is referred to us by a local designer, builder, contractor or architect we want to be able to minimize the time it takes them to make their selections without sacrificing showing them all their options,” says Kevin Kuta, president. “We maximized our showroom space by allocating specific areas for our different products. Since we provide many products to the marketplace, we wanted to put them all on display and allow the customer to feel that they had an opportunity to see all that is available to them, thus leaving with the confidence that what they selected will enhance their project.”

 

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Shower Suppliers Prepare for the Trends of 2012

As retailers prepare 2012 inventory, shower door suppliers are offering insight into the year’s big trends.

Glass Gets Heavy
“Clear glass is seeing a large trend. People want to show off their tile and their faucets,” says Jim Jankauskis, business unit manager of the Foremost Group’s Shower Door division in Hobart, Ind. He notes that with that option, heavy glass use is increasing. “Especially in the heavy to 3/8- and ½-inch we’re seeing a big jump,” Jankauskis says.

For consumers with more conservative budgets, Tuscaloosa, Ala.-based Coral Industries’ representatives are finding that traditional enclosures are mimicking the features of heavy glass doors, with ¼-inch frameless units taking on more of a heavy glass look.

“3/8-inch-thick frameless luxury glass continues to grow as the option consumers most desire, especially for master baths where homeowners can find relief and relaxation from their busy lives,” says Linda Garman, director of marketing communications for Basco Shower Enclosures in Mason, Ohio.

Custom Becomes More Fun
“We’re seeing a lot of standardization of size,” says Ray Adams, president of Coastal Industries in Jacksonville, Fla. “Where in years past everything was custom, that seems to be changing now. I think builders are building smaller bathrooms.”

The Coral Industries sales team is seeing remodelers focus on more spacious, more elaborate and more customized bathrooms. A result of that, they say, is the trend for more elaborate enclosures. This includes enclosures that offer unique features, including decorative glass (whether it be one of the many varieties of patterned or specialty glass), imaged glass or cast glass are all being seen as enhancements with appealing aesthetics. Glass with unusual shapes such as curved tops or edges offer other means for customizing enclosures.

“There are a lot of interesting patterns out there—the problem becomes they become so cost-prohibitive,” says Adams.

For those who can go custom, color is playing more into their plans.

Sales reps for Seattle-based Agalite are finding that colored glass of all types is in high demand. They are finding that ceramic frits have taken a giant leap forward with a new generation of inks and application techniques that were previously unavailable or cost prohibitive. Incorporating images and photographs is also becoming more and more prevalent as a value-added, almost limitless way to customize a shower or bath enclosure, whether it is laser-etched, high-resolution interlayers or direct printed ceramic frit, company representatives report.

If You Have to Have Hardware…
“We’re seeing real high demand for anything frameless or semi-frameless,” Jankauskis says. But if you have to have a frame, he says those finishes are “still predominantly silver and brushed nickel.” Jankauskis says Foremost is also seeing steady demand on the bronze finishes the company offers. He adds, “Polished brass or gold is completely dead.”

“We’re probably seeing more use of oil rubbed bronze materials than in year’s past,” Adams says. “That seems to be overtaking the brushed nickel sales for us.”

The sales team at Agalite agrees that frameless is still the standard, but notes that the mantra “less is more” has a new twist this year. In the current economic environment, consumers that want the frameless look but are looking to save money are turning to light-duty hardware, the company’s sales representatives are finding. Not only is the hardware more affordable, the reduced glass and fabrication costs are also very appealing to a growing market.

The Coral Industries Inc. sales team reports that hardware designs are trending toward the utilization of the mechanical components as part of the external design, such as external rollers which, rather than being hidden inside a track, are brought to the outside surface and featured as a design element. Where budgets allow, these options are being incorporated into heavy glass enclosures, making them more customized and distinctive in both appearance and function.

Too Many Options!
With all of the great options that exist in shower enclosures today, some customers may feel the choices will send them running back to their local big box store’s shower curtain aisle. “One thing we uncovered in consumer focus groups is that consumers are intimidated by the selection process and overwhelmed with options but at the same time concerned with making sure they consider all the options,” Garman says. Basco deals with that by offering an online quiz to gather style preference in a fun and interactive way.

Of course, helping customers choose through the myriad of options is just what a great shower door showroom is designed to do.


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