The owners of Hacienda Lighting turned this struggling retail store around from bankruptcy to superstar status.
David Pritchett, Sr., and his wife Donna, got their start in the industry several decades ago, working for a small lighting showroom in Scottsdale, Arizona. They enjoyed the industry immensely, and began advancing in their careers. While David was managing The Lighting Company showroom in Mesa, an opportunity came up for the couple to buy a lighting store of their own. Although they heard opportunity knocking, their budget was tight. Borrowing the initial down payment from family members, David and Donna Pritchett rescued the existing business, Hacienda Lighting, from bankruptcy in 1978 and began to right the ship.
Hacienda had achieved a decent reputation in the area before it fell on hard times, but getting back that good name would be a challenge. Still, the Pritchetts were confident. “We’d been in the business a long time and had a lot of experience,” David Sr. states. “We called all of Hacienda’s vendors and told them that we had bought the business. There were many factories that already knew us and had a good relationships with us over the years.” Soon, the business was back on track.
With the Pritchetts at the helm, the company outgrew each of the increasingly larger retail spaces it took on. In 1999, the family was able to procure an anchor space at a building in the Scottsdale design district. Now the Pritchetts could create how their store would look from scratch.
The first step was to imagine the most effective manner for consumers, interior designers, and builders to shop the 9,600 square foot showroom. Parmount was to provide full-scale demonstration areas that would allow people to see the lighting products they are interested in and how they will function.
“We discovered over the years that customers like to see the lights on the fixtures they are interested in to be illuminated individually,” David Sr. notes. When walking up to an assortment of fixtures that are all lit, it can be more difficult for a customer to zero in on one style at a time. The Pritchetts discovered that the Optiwatt system of lighting controls – which is specifically designed for lighting showrooms – is the ideal solution. Each fixture is marked by a number that matches a button on the Optiwatt pedestal in front of the display. The customer just presses the corresponding number and, voila, that fixture is instantly illuminated. Having the self-explanatory pedestals throughout the showroom allows customers to browse on their own. The system also helps the store keep energy costs low.
Starting from Scratch
When moving to the current location, the Pritchetts had time to prepare and plan every detail out. Input came from all of the family members, as the Pritchetts’ daughter, Deanna, and son, Dave Jr., have also been involved in the business from a young age.
“My design philosophy is ‘less is more,” says Dave Jr., who is the showroom manager. As if the spacious showroom isn’t testament enough, he points out the vanity lighting section which is in the midst of a display overhaul. “I eliminated 20 percent of what you see here,” he says. While once the vanity lights were mounted on slatted walls with barely space between each fixture, now there are freshly drywalled sections that are hardwired so that the fixtures can be mounted without any visible slats to distract the eye. “I felt that previously those displays looked cluttered. Now they look clean,” he remarks.
Indeed an uncluttered look is pervasive throughout. There are a lot of fixtures on display, however, the presentation has been edited down to not appear overwhelming while offering plenty of choices.
A separate back room, which was originally devoted to showcasing residential a/v equipment, now houses a working lighting lab for recessed, track, and LED systems. “Our lighting lab is unique in the Valley area,” David Sr. says. “The products aren’t all crammed in there. Instead, we show them in practical situations. This is especially important when showing LED fixtures.”
Like everywhere else in the country – if not more so – Arizona was hit hard when the housing bubble burst. “At that time, new construction was 80 percent of our business,” David Sr. recounts. “What kept us going was having very loyal builders who stayed with us even though we were getting beat up pretty bad in pricing. Cultivating relationships is what helped us hang on.”
Surviving the tough times has pulled this close family even tighter. Both children worked at the store while growing up. “I started sweeping the floors when I was eight years old,” Dave Jr. reports. “I worked my way up the business, doing every job imaginable. I really enjoy the lighting business and I’ve found that I’m good at it.” Dave Sr. has also served as a good role model. “I learned from my father to never sacrifice your integrity to make an extra dollar,” Dave Jr. says. “He taught me to be honest and fair with employees as well as with customers and builders. Our employees are what make this company succeed.”
Deanna has also worked in every department from childhood through her college years. “I’ve done everything at the store but install lights,” she quips. Deanna and her mom, Donna, have found purchasing to be their forte – especially when it comes to lamps and decorative accessories, wall art, and mirrors. David Sr. and Dave Jr. handle the purchasing for the lighting fixtures and ceiling fans.
Having grown up in the industry, the Pritchetts have worked hard to make Hacienda Lighting a destination. That feat has not gone unnoticed by their peers. The company has won the prestigious ARTS Award twice – in 2000 and 2001 – which were the first two years that they moved into their present location. In 2011, the showroom was named as a Finalist in the competition.
The company has created awareness of its strengths by holding Open House events, participating in builder showrooms, holding educational seminars for local community college students every few months, plus organizing a student competition. Hacienda Lighting is also involved in events that benefit the Susan G. Komen foundation as well as local food banks.
“Our space is truly state-of-the-art,” explains Deanna. “It’s very welcoming and people love to come in and look. I think our customer service, and the [tenure] of our employees has shown our customers that we really care. There’s a reason why builders, designers, and homeowners come back to us again and again. We have a lot of long-time relationships in the design community; they’re like family to us.” Clearly the residents and design professionals in the surrounding Scottsdale area feel the same way.