*Editor’s Note: Since this interview took place, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced most retailers to close their doors, making a tough industry even more difficult. When we emerge from this crisis, local retailers will face all of the same challenges… and then some. Now more than ever, we must support them by shopping local.
Since 1949, Lippmann’s has sold only the most stylish, long-lasting home furnishings. Their design experts help customers create interior spaces from top to bottom, with quality furniture, custom window treatments, unique accessories and beautiful flooring.
What is your biggest challenge as a retailer in 2020?
Letting the good people of central Illinois understand that we are here to support, educate and steer them in the right direction—and that we are not as expensive as they might think. We are not just a furniture store; we’re an interior design store and a concierge for customers. If you need something done in your home, we know how to get it done.
How has the internet impacted your business?
The internet has made it easier to shop, but the horror stories that come after are why we’re in business. Let’s say you purchase some furniture online, it gets delivered, and it’s not what you thought it was. How are you going to get it back, and how long will it take? I just had a customer who bought something from Wayfair. The day it was supposed to be delivered, they charged their credit card and sent an email that said, “Oh, by the way, your piece is back-ordered and won’t be here until July.” We hear this kind of stuff all day long.
Have you seen a sustained impact from recent Shop Local campaigns?
I cannot quantitatively give you an answer. I don’t know if we just don’t ask the question, or people don’t bring it up. I hope it makes an impact. I think a lot of people don’t understand how much sales tax leaves the City of Peoria when they buy on the internet. Everybody wants to complain about our roads and our pensions… but every time they buy online, three percent goes to bail out Chicago, and Peoria gets three quarters of a percent. And that is wrong.
Anything else to add?
It’s tough for retailers. We try to stay ahead of the curve, but sometimes I think we’re in the middle of a forest and we can’t see the trees. Where can you buy a quality piece of furniture these days? Look at the stores that have closed in the last 10 years, versus those that have opened. A lot of that stuff is going to last maybe two years, and you’re going to spend the same amount of money buying it again—when you could buy something that will last 10 or 15 years for less money. Stores like us, Ethan Allen and Steger’s… we’re all trying to offer a decent price and a good value. PM