Displaying stone for top sales
I am flattered by the kind write up, and grateful for the conversation I had with Tanja of Floorcovering Weekly . You can read her full article here.
Mary Elizabeth (Hulsey) Oropeza may call Mission Stone & Tile, a “small company,” but the Nashville showroom is big on style. From hiring team members and building displays to helping customers with the selection process, each detail is designed to help her clients create beautiful spaces while helping her maximize sales.After graduating with degrees in interior design and business, Oropeza’s career began with Architectural Granite and Marble in Austin, Texas, where she learned the ins and outs of the stone import business.“It ended up being the best thing I ever did,” Oropeza said. “They gave me such freedom to travel and to meet people in the industry on a worldwide level. I was in Italy, Spain and Peru. They gave me the freedom to expand my horizons.”
In 2006, Oropeza’s background in interior design, her eye for sourcing new and unique products, and her stone import experience, prepared her to open her own store. She plans to open a second location in Chattanooga on June 3rd at 55 East Main Street.
She built a niche by keeping items in stock that people were used to special ordering. “I purchased things in bulk so that they were available and also a little more affordable due to the volume we were purchasing,” Oropeza said.
She hires only interior designers as sales people, who help to provide a high level of customer service, including drawings, when needed. “Many of our clients work with interior designers, so it’s easier for a designer to talk with a designer,” Oropeza explained.
Her store merchandising also helps her business shine. “The most important thing we are doing is creating an experience when you come to the store,” she explained. “When people are shopping for tile and stone and they are unfamiliar with how the process works, it can be really overwhelming. One of our interior designers will come in and introduce themselves and find out what they are looking for,” Oropeza explained. “Sometimes people want to browse, but we found that if they have some attention right at the beginning, they can be directed to the areas of the showroom, if they are looking for floors, walls or showers, for example, and instruct them on what they will see in each area.”
She created distinction between product styles and types by using partitions and sheer drapes between spaces. The strategy helps the customer absorb color, style and materials in one area before moving on to another.
“Here in Tennessee, I like to consider our showroom more cutting edge and a little more contemporary, but we have clientele that are also more traditional and timeless,” she said.
For her new Chattanooga showroom, Oropeza said she plans to use more flexible displays and moveable walls in increase versatility. “All of our partition walls will be on wheels so that they can be moved and spread out on angles so that every three to six months people can come in and have a different experience.”
Mission Stone & Tile uses slat walls to display samples.