Stone Column

Luxury stone retailing

November 1, 2007
/ Print / Reprints /
/ Text Size+

Last month, I drove to Richmond, VA, to check out the new Charles Luck Stone Center. And while I anticipated seeing a new, top-of-the-line stone showroom, I ended up seeing a lot more than that. Taking their cue from high-end retailers such as Gucci, Prada and Armani as well as hospitality experts such as Ritz-Carlton, the people at Charles Luck Stone Center have truly created a stone sourcing “experience.”

Rather than overwhelm customers with lavish vignettes and an ocean of color samples, the design studio (they prefer not to call it a “showroom”) has a more subtle appeal - and this is reflected in the building’s stonework. “We wanted to have judicious use of stone, rather than commoditize it,” explained Peter Frasier of Frasier Design Associates of Richmond, the architect for the project. Frasier said that rather than use a “blend” of stone, they wanted to make the facility distinctive using monolithic forms where they could “express craft” without using so much material.

Soft lighting, high ceilings and relaxing music add to the “spa-like” feel of the studio, and the layout of the space was carefully arranged so that visitors could engage with the products before interacting with the staff, allowing them to move about the facility at their own pace. “They’re not getting jumped on the second they walk in,” said Mark Fernandes, President of Charles Luck Stone Center explained. “That’s one of the concepts we picked up by looking at high-end retailers. They let customers come in and look around.”

In other words, customers are given the opportunity to look at the materials with as little or as much assistance as they like. Stone products are neatly positioned on aluminum panels that the customers can easily browse through on their own, and a series of worktables allow homeowners to interact with their own designer as well as Charles Luck Stone Center staff members. The company employs in-house designers as well as stone experts to assist in the process from a technical perspective.

Over the years, I have seen some very impressive showroom concepts in our industry, and I can honestly say that the experience of walking through the Charles Luck Stone Center was unlike any I have ever visited. Through the sights, sounds and feel of the studio, they have succeeded in creating an environment where customers are compelled to create spaces using natural stone. It is sort of like shopping along Rodeo Drive; if you don’t come home with some of those bags in hand, then it wasn’t a successful trip. (Not that I’ve ever shopped along Rodeo Drive on a journalist’s salary, but you get the idea.)

Of course, the studio is merely a vehicle for the Charles Luck Stone Center - or any company that has invested in its showroom facilities. The “driver” is - and will always be - the people who work there. All of the strategy and planning in the world will go for naught if the customer runs into a staff member who is having an off day. Now that we’re seeing some belt-tightening in our industry, the companies that remain successful will be the ones who remember to put the customer first. Stone is no longer selling itself, so we need to make sure the people doing the selling are always on the top of their game, and that they uphold the concept of stone as a premier building material.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Stone World 

Recent Articles by Michael Reis

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

November 2013 Stone Products Gallery

Take a look at some of the latest stone industry products.


Stone World Magazine

April 2014 stone world cover

2014 April

In this month's issue of Stone World, check out an extensive preview of Coverings 2014, which will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in April. Also learn more about various types of limestone that were used to build private residences.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Contemporary Stone & Tile Design Magazine


2014 Spring

This issue of Contemporary Stone & Tile Design includes our annual focus on Kitchen and Bath design

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Training Program

How formal is your training program for new employees?
View Results Poll Archive

The Stone World Store

How to Polish & Restore Marble Flooring

This video will show you step-by-step how to resurface and polish marble flooring from grinding and removing lippage and scratches to achieving a highly reflective polish.

More Products

Italian Trade Commission Coverings exhibitor preview

Italian Trade Commission logo 2

The Italian Trade Commission is presenting a large group of the most innovative and internationally renowned Italian suppliers of dimensional natural stones. We hope your busy schedule will allow you to join us for a “genuine” espresso in booth N. 4045 and explore the exciting Italian natural stone resources offered by our exhibitors. Check out Italian stone producers exhibiting at Coverings 2014 here!


Stone Industry Education

stone industry educationStone Industry Education is sponsored by Stone World Magazine and Marble Institute of America. The SIE events will help you: strengthen your skills, build your business, and  increase profit in your shop.  Check out to register for upcoming fabricator and installer seminars.


facebook logo Twitter  YouTube