Shades of Success

The same people who buy lamps are likely to need rugs and curtains as well. At least that’s what the folks at Shades of Light believe. Having added rugs to its core product line of upscale, style-conscious lighting in 2002, the Richmond, VA-based mailer began selling window treatments this past spring.

The 94-page May edition of the Shades of Light catalog included two pages of curtains in addition to 30 pages of rugs. A Website, Curtains on Call, selling a small selection of valences and panels, had launched two months prior.

Paige Ward, president of Shades of Light’s rug and curtain division, says that sales of window treatments have exceeded expectations by 20%. “We now realize we need more curtains available to customers,” Ward says, “so slowly but surely we’ll add more curtains.”

The company took an equally deliberate approach to rolling out its Rugs Under Foot brand. After introducing some rugs on its Website in January 2002, Shades of Light featured six pages of rugs in its 72-page March 2002 edition. “Our lighting product mix had reached a plateau at 64 pages,” Ward recalls. Sales were growing 3%-5% a year, “which was pretty flat for us,” so the cataloger added a new line.

The company’s rug sales continue to grow. For the first half of 2004, sales were up 172% from the first half of 2003. Lighting sales, in comparison, rose 3%-5%. The spring catalog offered 104 rug SKUs; the Website features more than 800 rugs.

Ward thinks that the Curtains on Call business could grow even more quickly than Rugs Under Foot. “Curtains are a little more like lighting in that you need several in every room,” she says, “but they don’t cost as much as that $500 rug does. A room can have six windows in it but only one floor.”

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