Great salespeople are made, not born. Still, some start earlier than others. Take Thomas Lavin, the founder of the Los Angeles showroom that bears his name. “When I was a kid, my parents used to have epic cocktail parties, and my mother put me on coaster patrol,” he tells Dennis Scully on the latest episode of The Business of Home Podcast. “I got to know my parents’ friends and got into making drinks for them and serving them, and that level of service stayed with me. Now I have a desk on the sales floor of our PDC showroom and I get up and help people find the right gray velvet—I love it.”
A knack for sales is probably the very first requirement to building a great showroom business, but these days there’s a lot more to it than that. In this episode of the show, Lavin gives an inside look at how, over the course of two decades, he built up a small independent shop on Beverly Boulevard into the thriving Southern California institution it is today. That includes everything from teaching the next generation of designers how to sell trade product (Lavin drops some great tips) to staying on top of the shifting cultural winds around pricing and transparency (he’s all for displaying more pricing information).
“As humans, we have this drive to create. [That] keeps the business going, keeps it interesting, keeps it fresh,” he says. “It’s not without its challenges, whether that’s the advent of [high-end] retail, the rise of digital platforms, the constant education of the consumer—we have things we have to adapt and change to, and we’re not the fastest industry at it. But I think that creativity and moving forward is always at the core.”